Network News Erects Wall of Disinformation at the Border, Study Says
Evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC are sugarcoating the Southwest border surge, failing to make the connection between Biden administration policies and Mexican cartel profits, and all but ignoring massive drug trafficking operations.
A minute-by-minute survey by the conservative Media Research Center (MRC) conducted from Oct. 1, 2022, through July 20, 2023, found that 48.8 percent of the networks’ border coverage was narrowly related to Title 42.
“Nearly every full-length report included sound bites from migrants desperate to enter the United States. It was never a question of how many should be let in, or whom. Rather, the answer was already assumed to be ‘everyone,’ and the only question was how best to achieve that goal while making the process as comfortable as possible for the illegal entrants,” the report stated.
Post-Title 42 coverage repeatedly recited the administration’s spurious claim that illegal border crossings fell “70 percent” since the health-protocols were lifted on May 11. (For the real story, see FAIR’s analysis here.)
The nearly 10-month MRC study found that 254 minutes, 43 seconds of network newscasts were spent on the border crisis, and nearly half the coverage was related to Title 42. Less than five minutes related to drug trafficking.
“Almost every discussion of Title 42 emphasized how difficult [Title 42] restrictions were making life for migrants. Title 42 was also the driving force behind immigration stories dealing with other topics,” MRC stated.
Notably, the broadcast networks never once used the term “illegal immigration,” “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien.”
Political coverage on ABC’s “World News Tonight,” CBS’ “Evening News” and “NBC Nightly News” reserved critical tones for Republicans, according to the study. “Almost without exception, Republicans [were portrayed] as ruthless border hawks with no capacity for empathy,” said study author Bill D’Agostino.
The prevailing partisan bias was even called out last week by Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who broadly accused the media of “lying” to the public about the deteriorating situation at the border.
Against the slanted network news menu, the House Homeland Security Committee on July 19 heard testimony that connected the Biden administration’s border policies and cartel operations.
“The biggest winners are the criminal cartels and other transnational criminal organizations who are reaping profits on a nearly unimaginable scale,” Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies testified.
Noting “an alarming spike” in the trans-border shipment of dangerous drugs like fentanyl, Vaughan reported that “cartels are now making more money from human smuggling and trafficking than from drugs.”
“The Biden administration has arranged it so that the majority of those who do business with the smuggling organizations, which necessarily work under arrangements with the cartels who control the border area, will succeed in gaining entry to the United States.”
Vaughan’s newsworthy research didn’t make the networks’ evening news shows. Nothing to see there.