You know it’s gotten really bad at the southern border, when even the broadcast news networks take notice. On Friday, ABC’s Good Morning America led off with the “New Crisis at the Border,” while Thursday’s NBC Nightly News featured a report about the “record migrant surge,” letting viewers know there were “more than 200,000 migrants” encountered in August, and a new swell of thousands of additional Haitians hoping for access.
Only CBS has yet to provide a full report in the past 24 hours, as Thursday’s Evening News included nothing about the border crisis, and Friday’s CBS Mornings offered a short, 43-second update read by co-host Gayle King.
NBC’s Today show on Friday, however, failed to provide much of a follow-up after Thursday night’s report by correspondent Julia Ainsley — just a quick 29-second headline read by co-host Savannah Guthrie at 7:30am ET.
But while ABC’s World News Tonight on Thursday didn’t include any news about the border, Friday’s GMA featured two full reports by correspondent Marcus Moore, plus a quick headline at 7:30am ET, totalling a decent four minutes, 23 seconds of coverage.
Moore pulled no punches on the severity of the situation: “This morning, an urgent crisis at the border. More than 10,000 men, women and children seeking asylum in Texas....Conditions here worsening by the hour, with limited access to food and water. U.S. Border officials are overwhelmed...”
Moore’s piece also included a soundbite from a Republican Congressman from Texas, Tony Gonzales — “This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it. There is no southern border. It’s pure chaos. There are literally thousands of migrants that have come, and there’s tens of thousands on the way.” — and a tweet from ex-DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf: “This is absolutely insane.”
Thursday night’s story by NBC’s Ainsley centered around a two-year-old girl and three-month-old baby boy who were found by border agents after being abandoned. A border agent told Ainsley: “It is very taxing on us as agents to constantly see stuff like this happening.”
Ainsley also included a soundbite from her August interview with U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Paul Ortiz, when they both visited the same bridge now being overwhelmed by thousands of Haitians. Ortiz told Ainsley back then: “I do think that what we’re dealing with is much different than what we’ve dealt with in the past.”
Despite how this crisis has been building over months, NewsBusters reported on Thursday that despite the massive number of border encounters in August (208,887), the three broadcast evening newscasts had provided a meager six minutes, 28 seconds of coverage. In July, when border agents encountered 213,534 people at the border, those newscasts had provided even less coverage — a scant four minutes, 20 seconds.
Here are partial transcripts of Thursday night’s coverage of the border disaster on NBC Nightly News and Friday morning’s coverage on Good Morning America (click expand to read the whole thing):
# NBC Nightly News, September 16:
LESTER HOLT: Now to the record migrant surge, and another baby and toddler found abandoned at the border, just as the Texas governor tonight is demanding President Biden shut down border crossings....
JULIA AINSLEY: The incident comes as border patrol reveals in August for a second straight month they encountered more than 200,000 migrants trying to cross the southern border. That’s a 21-year high, though the total has dipped slightly from last month. Earlier this summer, we saw agents trying to keep up with the massive numbers just at this one bridge along the Rio Grande.
PAUL ORTIZ (U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief): I do think that what we’re dealing with is much different than what we’ve dealt with in the past.
AINSLEY: It was in the hundreds when we were there. Tonight officials say the number of migrants under that bridge is now in the thousands, and the Texas governor is demanding the Biden administration shut down six border crossings.
# ABC’s Good Morning America, September 17:
MARCUS MOORE: This morning, an urgent crisis at the border. More than 10,000 men, women and children seeking asylum in Texas....Conditions here worsening by the hour, with limited access to food and water. U.S. Border officials are overwhelmed....
Rep. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it. There is no southern border. It’s pure chaos. There are literally thousands of migrants that have come, and there’s tens of thousands on the way.
MOORE: The crowd doubling in a 24-hour period, growing from just a few hundred people earlier this week. Governor Greg Abbott ordering state police and National Guard to assist border agents. The former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf tweeting, ‘This is absolutely insane.’...