CNN’s Poppy Harlow got her talking points confused on Monday morning and accidentally ended up making an argument that supported President Trump's case for closing the southern border.
The gaffe occurred during an exchange with Republican Strategist Alice Stewart in the 10:00 a.m. hour of CNN Newsroom. Harlow was pressing her guest about the potential economic ramifications of closing the U.S.-Mexico border when Stewart brought up the topic of drug trafficking: “This is not just about illegal immigration. This is about stemming the tide of drugs into this country and addressing the sex trafficking and the human trafficking issues.”
Upon hearing Stewart mention drug trafficking, Harlow went into autopilot regurgitated what she thought was the relevant talking point to address her guest’s argument:
But as you know, I mean, you know the stats. In terms of just drug flow, one thing you noted, that 90% of illegal drugs like heroin and – you know, with the opioid crisis – are coming through the legal ports of entry.
Unfortunately for Harlow, using that statistic in this situation was akin to forcing a square peg into a round hole. If, as the talking point went, 90% of drugs pouring into the country actually were coming through legal ports of entry, then presumably shutting down the border (and thus, those ports of entry) would adequately address that issue.
Harlow was dredging up an old canned response that the media frequently used back in January, when the airwaves were dominated with arguments over the border wall. Back then, that statistic was intended to suggest that a border wall would do little to stop drug trafficking, since the majority of the drugs coming into the country were coming in through areas that already had considerable border security.
The Newsroom host, likely realizing that her argument was not applicable to the current discussion, quickly pivoted back to talking about the potential economic fallout from closing the border.
To read a transcript of the exchange, click "expand":
10:14 — 10:16 a.m. EDT
ALICE STEWART: He is sending a clear and direct message to Mexico and Mexican officials that they need to work hard to enforce their immigration laws and address the issue on their end before it comes up to America. And this is not just about illegal immigration. This is about stemming the tide of drugs into this country and addressing the sex trafficking and the human trafficking issues. So there is a broad impact of taking a look at this.
POPPY HARLOW: But as you know, I mean, you know the stats. In terms of just drug flow, one thing you noted, that 90% of illegal drugs like heroin and – you know, with the opoid crisis – are coming through the legal ports of entry. And, I guess the question is, do you really think it would be worth the economic cost to this country, just the economic cost to this country, to shut down the border, let alone all the other ramifications?
STEWART: In my view, I don not think that the economic costs would be worth this, but then again, this is an idea and an opportunity that the President is presenting to Mexico to incentivize them and encourage them to enforce their existing laws that they have on the book. This has been the President’s priority since he began running for president, and this is high on his list, and what he plans to do is clear. He tweets about this virtually every day. He did so just yesterday, again urging Mexico to take action on his signature campaign promise and something that really needs to get done.