On Thursday morning, CNN's New Day show displayed the latest classic example of why journalists should generally not be considered reliable sources of accurate information as the Cable News Network continued to conflate legal asylum seekers who go through the proper procedure with those who cross the border illegally and seek asylum when they are apprehended.
The three-hour show ran two segments to mark the court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunite illegal immigrant families who are eligible for reunification, and, in the first segment, Alisyn Camerota interviewed former Obama administration ICE acting director John Sandweg. The CNN host seemed flummoxed that crossing the border into the U.S. without permission is considered illegal even when asylum seekers do it. Camerota:
The administration's position with this zero-tolerance policy has been that by dint of just coming here -- just coming to the U.S., these people are criminals -- they have committed a criminal act. However, it's legal to come to the U.S. and seek asylum, so since when are they, from the get-go, classified as criminals?
Camerota and her show's producers have been covering this issue for six weeks, and have had plenty of time to learn the difference between asylum seekers who enter the U.S. legally at a port of entry and those who break the law in entering the country. And her liberal guest did nothing to inform viewers of the distinction, and instead complained about the Trump administration policy.
The CNN host also neglected to ask her guest about the issue of whether the Obama administration treated illegal immigrants similarly to the Trump administration, given that some, like NPR's Maria Hinojosa, have argued that there have long been complaints about the treatment of detained immigrants.
A later segment ran a pre-recorded report by Ryan Nobles in which the CNN correspondent spoke with two illegal immigrant families who were separated after they crossed the border but have since been reunited. Without noting that they could have applied for asylum in Mexico, Nobles recalled that one family "fled from El Salvador seeking asylum from a situation they aren't comfortable talking about. They crossed into Texas, hoping for relief. Instead, they were separated as part of President Trump's zero-tolerance policy."
It was as if El Salvador borders the United States instead of there being all of that Mexico in between them.
Nobles soon recalled complaints of "inhumane" conditions: "Both families describe a painful month, filled with a desperation to reunite, coupled with uncomfortable conditions they say were inhumane."
The CNN correspondent then translated for one underage boy who complained, "They wouldn't let me go to the bathroom sometimes. And when I wanted to eat, they wouldn't let me eat until they wanted."
Nobles seemed oblivious to the fact that anyone who has attended grade school in the U.S. could recall a similar structure to the day in which children only get to eat when it is lunch time, or get to go to the bathroom when the rest of the class goes. It hardly proves "inhumane" treatment.
He then went to their attorney, Sophia Gregg, as the CNN correspondent recalled that "she argues this crisis was avoidable." She was then seen stating in a soundbite: "There is a system. People can seek asylum. Just because someone seeks asylum in this country doesn't mean that they need to be held in a high-security prison while they attempt to seek asylum."
It was not clarified that going to a legal port of entry in Mexico would have been a better alternative than sneaking through the desert or across a river to illegally enter the U.S. without permission.
The report concluded with one of the immigrants in question complaining that he has experienced a "nightmare" in crossing into the U.S.
Co-host John Berman then lamented: "Again, even if these reunifications take place, the damage that was done may be irreparable in some cases."
Notably, when HHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently traveled to Central America and warned potential asylum seekers to either apply in Mexico or enter the U.S. through a port of entry to avoid family separation, CNN gave no attention to her trip. So CNN appears to have no interest in actually giving its viewers enough accurate information to understand the issue.