The Slatest

Fox News Had to Interrupt Its Border Scaremongering to Report the El Paso Shooting

A split screen showing Garrett Tenney at a port of entry in El Paso and Gillian Turner at the Fox News desk.
Garrett Tenney and Gillian Turner, reporting on the same story from slightly different angles.
Fox News

Until news of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, broke on Saturday afternoon, it was a normal day at Fox News, which meant the network’s reporters, anchors, and guests were taking every opportunity to stir up anti-immigrant sentiment. They got started bright and early on Fox & Friends Saturday, with an early morning segment featuring former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan. On YouTube, the clip is headlined “1.1 million migrants expected to cross US border illegally in 2019,” although no one takes the time to discuss that figure during the segment or, indeed, mentions it at all. But they did have time to play sped-up security footage of smugglers dismantling an anti-vehicle barrier near El Centro, California. In fact, they found time to loop it over and over again:

The show reused clips from Homan’s interview all morning, interspersed with live reporting from El Paso, Texas, with correspondent Garrett Tenney. Tenney was ostensibly in El Paso to report on a congressional delegation’s visit to the border internment camps, but in his first appearance that morning, he was mostly there to stand in front of a deserted port of entry and lament the fact that a federal judge had blocked Trump’s latest plan to deny asylum to refugees. Then the anchors discussed Tenney’s reporting over a full-screen loop of the same Customs and Border Protection* footage they used during the Homan segment, which, again, depicted smugglers in California, not asylum-seekers in Texas. At 10, Fox & Friends mercifully went off the air, but Tenney didn’t: Neil Cavuto had him on for more of the same during Cavuto Live. When America’s News HQ cut to Tenney in El Paso for the third time, he really got a head of steam up during his closing:

This crisis on the border likely not going to be over any time soon, at least from a congressional standpoint. Several Democratic lawmakers told me that there is almost no chance of Congress tackling the loopholes in our immigration system before the next election, meaning this crisis—more than 100,000 people crossing the border each of the last four months now—is going to continue for at least another year and a half, if not more. 

Unfortunately, at that very moment, Fox was forced to cut away from the reporter they’d sent to El Paso, Texas, to make the case that the United States was facing an unsustainable influx of immigrants to report the breaking story that a young man had concluded that the United States was facing an unsustainable influx of immigrants and traveled to El Paso, Texas, to take matters into his own hands. Here’s one of the most awkward, shameful transitions in television history:

Since the news broke, Tenney has been making the most of his proximity to the story, interviewing eyewitnesses and reporting on the aftermath of the United States’ latest white supremacist terrorist attack. He and the rest of his colleagues should be well-suited to the task: No one did a better job of covering the prologue.

Correction, Aug. 4, 2019: This post originally misidentified the source of the security footage. It was from CBP, not CPB.