Accuracy in Media

In appearances on CNN’s Sunday show Reliable Sources, show host Brian Stelter advanced a new theory of why there is a crisis of historic proportions on the U.S.-Mexico border barely two months into a Biden presidency. 

It’s simply a vast right-wing conspiracy, they said. 

“[T]he Republicans are setting the agenda on immigration,” Greg Sargent of the Washington Post wrote. “The [Biden] press conference was a perfect example of that.”

“I think one of the biggest problems is what Greg said, which is that the right sets the agenda,” Salon’s Amanda Marcotte said. “They decide that there is a border crisis and they don’t want to look into the reasons for it.”

This coming just a few days before Stelter’s own CNN reported that on the same day that the show was aired, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported the “number of unaccompanied migrant children in border facilities reached its highest point on Sunday since the federal government began releasing data last week.” 

CNN notes that the Biden government’s own estimates say that continuing on the current course “could result in at least 158,000 unaccompanied children arriving from April through September” this year.

“At least”?  

The CBP’s own data shows that would more than double the high-water mark of unaccompanied minor encounters of 73,235 set in 2019. 

If that’s not a crisis, what is? 

Former ABC White House correspondent Jon Karl pushed back on Stelter during a segment on the show saying the border crisis wasn’t “right-wing talking points.”

Republicans have accused the Democrats of encouraging undocumented immigrants to come to the border, which, they say, combined with the administration’s unpreparedness, drove the crisis. 

During the only press conference Biden has given since becoming president, ABC’s Cecilia Vega told Biden that during interviews she did at the border that some illegal immigrants said they came to the border believing that a Biden administration, unlike Trump’s, would allow them to immigrate to the US.  

It was that type of questioning by the White House press corps that has so outraged Stelter, Sargent and Marcotte. The trio has accused fellow members of the press of “setting the agenda on immigration” to favor the GOP. 

Karl disagreed with their outrage, calling the line of questioning “legitimate.” 

“Cecilia had just been at the border,” Karl told Stelter. “She just talked to migrants who had come over, including some that said, point blank, that they had come because they thought they would have better treatment now that Joe Biden was president. That’s a legitimate question to put to the president, and I thought that his answer was one of the more interesting moments in that press conference.” 




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