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PBS Fails to Specify 'Illegal' Immigrant Families Were Separated

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog.

In the past couple of weeks, as New York Times reporters Michael Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis have made appearances to promote their book about the Donald Trump administration's immigration reform policies, anchors on CNN and MSNBC have freaked out over reports that President Donald Trump suggested that U.S. troops shoot illegal immigrants who throw rocks at them, and, as usual, have also failed to even use the word "illegal" to specify that they were discussing illegal immigrants.

But it has been ignored that the Border Patrol Agents Association has argued in favor of allowing agents to shoot at rock throwers since rocks can cause serious injury or death, so such suggestions from President Trump are not as outrageous as liberal journalists make it out to be.

The book they wrote -- titled Border Wars: Inside Trump's Assault on Immigration -- surprisingly actually does use the term "illegal immigration" a number of times, in contrast with national television news shows that have all but banned the term from use. As much of the book is devoted to recounting debates that allegedly took place amongst White House officials regarding what reforms should be pushed to restrict both illegal and legal immigration, there are a couple of noteworthy places where the book misleads readers in much the same as has been commonly seen on liberal cable news.

As the book early on suggests that Trump was motivated by "bigotry" to promote restrictions on immigration, the book on page 20 repeats the discredited claims that Trump lobbied for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, and that they were proven innocent, neither of which is true. Additionally, on pages 104 and 110, the book also cites one of the studies journalists and other liberals sometimes cite to claim illegal immigrants commit less crime than other groups even though this and other studies typically do not make a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, as NewsBusters has previously documented.

Returning to the recent book promotions, on Monday's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski began the segment:

A recent New York Times report based off a new book revealed exclusive details about President Trump's obsession with immigration, including the desire for an alligator-filled moat to deter migrants. While the President pushed back on that detail, Trump did not mention the reporting that he suggested soldiers shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down.

After Brzezinski failed to clarify that the alleged suggestion to shoot illegal immigrants would have been in response to rock-throwing, her guest, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, eventually brought up the President's public suggestion of shooting rock throwers: "We all heard him publicly say last summer that he wanted people at the border to shoot at migrants who might be throwing rocks.

The previous week, her MSNBC colleague Chris Hayes on his October 2 show similarly brought up the suggestion of shooting "migrants" without initially noting the rock throwing, although he did ask his guest for elaboration. Here's Hayes:

Multiple of outlets have now confirmed reporting in the New York Times yesterday -- and it was part of a new, forthcoming book about the President and immigration. The key parts of the story are the President's discussion of an insane wall system with, quote, a 'water-filled trench stocked with snakes or alligators,' the President urging Border Patrol agents to commit atrocities such as shooting migrants in the legs.

After bringing aboard Shear as a guest, Hayes began by posing: "I want to talk about the context of 'shoot them in the legs' because that's the thing that has stuck with me the most. It's such a violent, grim, and lawless instruction. What was the context?"

Shear explained:

So the context actually started out in the public. If you'll remember, this is when the President is very concerned about caravans coming up from Central America coming to the border. The caravans were -- some people in the caravans were caught throwing rocks at members of the military, and the public mused aloud publicly whether or not the military could just shoot them in response and said, 'If they throw rocks, we'll use rifles."

The officials in his administration raced to get to him and say, 'Mr. President, you can't do that. The use of force guidelines don't allow you to respond -- don't allow the military to respond lethally with rifles in order to repel some folks that are throwing rocks.

Shear soon added that Trump a few day later suggesting shooting migrants in the leg, leading staffers to inform him that that was also not allowed. The Times reporter did not clarify whether the Border Patrol could be allowed to take such actions, which they apparently are allowed to do under some circumstances, which makes it sound like the entire idea of shooting at rock throwers sound like an outrageous overreaction.

And over on CNN's New Day show also on October 2, CNN co-host John Berman was taken aback as he declared: "And I just want to note, the shooting migrants in the legs, that's just an outrageous suggestion to begin with."

Also last week, as Shear appeared on the October 3 PBS NewsHour, the segment focused on the issue of children being separated from illegal immigrant parents during the zero tolerance policy, but it was never specified that it was immigrants who crossed the border illegally who were targeted. Host Judy Woodruff set up the segment:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of parents and children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration's controversial zero-tolerance policy. In Border Wars, a new book out next week, we get a glimpse into how the administration put that controversial policy in place and look for other ways to keep migrants out.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, October 7, Morning Joe, and the Thursday, October 2, All In with Chris Hayes:

#Morning Joe:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: A recent New York Times report based off a new book revealed exclusive details about President Trump's obsession with immigration, including the desire for an alligator-filled moat to deter migrants. While the President pushed back on that detail, Trump did not mention the reporting that he suggested soldiers shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down.

#All In:

CHRIS HAYES: Multiple outlets have now confirmed reporting in the New York Times yesterday -- and it was part of a new, forthcoming book about the President and immigration. The key parts of the story are the President's discussion of an insane wall system with, quote, a 'water-filled trench stocked with snakes or alligators,' the President urging Border Patrol agents to commit atrocities such as shooting migrants in the legs.

(...)

I want to talk about the context of 'shoot them in the legs' because that's the thing that has stuck with me the most. It's such a violent, grim, and lawless instruction. What was the context?

MICHAEL SHEAR, NEW YORK TIMES: So the context actually started out in the public. If you'll remember, this is when the President is very concerned about caravans coming up from Central America coming to the border. The caravans were -- some people in the caravans were caught throwing rocks at members of the military, and the public mused aloud publicly whether or not the military could just shoot them in response and said, 'If they throw rocks, we'll use rifles."

The officials in his administration raced to get to him and say, 'Mr. President, you can't do that. The use of force guidelines don't allow you to respond -- don't allow the military to respond lethally with rifles in order to repel some folks that are throwing rocks.

In a meeting a few days later, after he finally sort of relented and said, "Okay, I understand that -- you can't do that," he said, "But, you know, I have an idea. What if we just shoot them in the legs to slow them down?" And our reporting for the book suggested that the aide sat sort of stunned for a moment silently and finally and said "No, Mr. President, that's not allowed either. You can't do that either.".

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