Fake News? Progressive publication thinks CNN migrant crossing video was staged
Is CNN back in the business of fake news? Is fake news the addiction it just can't quit?
It is, if a progressive magazine, American Prospect, has it right about a staged border crossing, and based on their report, they made a very good argument.
American Prospect's Marcia Brown begins:
The scene starts out serenely, as CNN national correspondent Ed Lavandera and crew motor by boat down the Rio Grande near the city of Hidalgo, Texas, as the sun sets. But soon, the idyllic setting gives way.
"That's when we stumble across a group of migrants loading into a raft," Lavandera says in the clip. He's heard speaking with the migrants in Spanish to ease the tension. In the video, shot on March 11 and aired the next day, a group of migrants, including children, board a tiny raft and are led across by a man in a black ski mask and camouflage clothing. The migrants wear clean-looking surgical masks and life vests.
"The Rio Grande Valley has been ground zero for the latest surge in migration and here you see the operation unfolding right in front of us," said Lavandera. "After the first raft crosses, the magnitude of this moment reveals itself. Dozens of migrants emerge and walk down to the river's edge. You can see that this is a serious operation."
He narrates what he describes as a "highly organized system," with the raft taking at least six trips across the river. "Scenes like this are escalating in the Rio Grande Valley," Lavandera says.
But the scene may not be all that it appears to be. Immigrant rights advocates and others claim that the footage was staged, potentially with the cooperation of the Border Patrol. CNN was warned that the clip appeared to be a fabrication before it aired, but the network decided to run it anyway. A similar clip that appears to show the same or a similar trafficking incident from another angle was shared across right-wing media and even linked to on the social media accounts of members of Congress. This clip went viral among immigration opponents, and is helping to fuel the story of an out-of-control border.
Among its arguments, citing knowledgeable open borders advocates, the area filmed was off limits to anyone except federal authorities, meaning that someone let them in. Another problem was the human-smugglers doing the ferrying — they were wearing ski masks and combat fatigues, knowing they would be filmed. Normal human-smugglers try to blend in with their human cargo just in case they get caught so they can claim to apprehending agents that they, too, are merely poor, humble migrants and not cartel denizens making a lot of money. Another issue was the multiple crossings, which would be an open invitation for the Border Patrol to scoop them up. Seems problematic. Also, the open borders advocate cited in the piece is a local in the area, and said she never saw such activity otherwise; it wasn't usual. Still another issue was the orderliness of the migrants, who stood in single file, awaiting their turn. Not even open borders advocates claimed that that was normal migrant behavior; illegal migrants don't wait their turn in line. There was also the nature of migrant-smugglers — would they really stand by as a camera crew filmed them instead of pull out their guns, as criminals do? Seems implausible. Human-smugglers are an arm of Mexico's cartels.
Fakest of all would be CNN's claim that it just "happened" upon this smuggling operation by chance. Who the heck believes that? Everyone knows that sending a news crew to a remote location such as Hidalgo, Texas is a costly operation, with tons of crew of all sorts, and lots of technical requirements. Unless they'd been there for years and knew the place, they would hardly know where to go to get the footage and script out the report and execute it in time for the nightly report. Would they take a chance on losing money and wasting time unless they were sure they'd come back with the pictures they wanted? Finding such an operation would take a lot of intelligence, a lot of sourcing, and they don't have a longtime operation or possibly even an affiliate in those parts to guide them. Much easier to go with someone who has set the whole thing up and packaged it for network distribution, and slap it out to create the "narrative."
This seems to be what might be happening.
The motives? Still unknown. Obviously, the Border Patrol would want to get word out about the kind of dangerous smuggling it's encountering, so maybe it was involved. The open borders advocates cited in the report, obviously, want to and do claim there is no crisis, except for the children in cages detail, brought on, they speculate, by migrant parents sending their children across the border alone, which, according to this Politico report, is completely true.
The American Prospect report speculates that the staged set-up was an apparent bid to make the Biden administration look chaotic and bad, which it is. CNN taking the bait, though, is what's interesting. Does CNN, which is in the tank for Biden and blames everything out there not on Biden, but on former president Trump, now have it in for Joe Biden? It's hard to understand. Their normal course of action is to booster Joe Biden. This migrant landing, staged or not, makes Biden look bad. And yes, there is a border surge, though they didn't seem to really get the pictures.
Perhaps it is a quest for ratings at any cost. It's well known that ratings have tanked for the nets in President Trump's absence. So now there's even more fake news? And less public trust? This is getting pathetic. Why don't they try some reporting?
Image: Screen shot, CNN via shareable YouTube.