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Little Migrant Girl Dies, Media Pounce

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

One of the reasons people decry the "fakeness" of the news is the selectivity of which heart-rending anecdotes are "news" and which are not -- unless they can be blamed on undesirable politicians.


On Dec. 13, the Washington Post published an online story headlined "7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion." The reader's immediate assumption: She died at the hands of the Border Patrol.

Reporters Nick Miroff and Robert Moore quickly declared, "The child's death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP" -- Customs and Border Protection -- "facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed by large numbers of families seeking asylum in the United States." The reader's assumption only increases. In this case, it was a group of 163 migrants, 50 of them unaccompanied minors.

The Post also jumped to quote the American Civil Liberties Union, which decried a "lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP." MSNBC then used "Culture of Cruelty" as a tag for its "news" programming.

Time magazine -- which earlier this year published a wildly misleading cover image of an immigrant child who the magazine implied was separated from her mother ("fake news") -- went back to the well with the headline "A 7-year-old immigrant girl died after she was detained by border patrol."

What reader won't wish damnation for the Border Patrol people at this point?

There's more. Rolling Stone's Jamil Smith tweeted: "She had been detained for about eight hours when she began having seizures. Revived from a cardiac arrest, then died about 24 hours later. Elections have consequences." Shaun King of The Intercept added, "Shame on our country and shame on Donald Trump."


"Comedian" Wanda Sykes spewed about race, tweeting: "Evil. I wonder how many 7-year-olds from Europe, Russia, UK ... have died while in Border Patrol custody."

Fake News Time.

There's all this ignored -- deliberately ignored -- context: The child, Jakelin Caal Maquin, was traveling with her father and reportedly had not had food or water for days. Her father didn't report her as ill when they were taken into custody. He signed a form saying she was well. He initially told officials in their native Guatemala he was grateful for the medical attention given by the Border Patrol.

The truth simply doesn't matter. Fakery is the shameless order of business in this industry today. Anything goes in the continuing assault against President Trump and his policies, most especially where the left's top-shelf issues, immigration and abortion, are concerned.

The government counted at least 281 people who have died in 2018 while attempting to cross the border, often under harsh desert conditions. The vast majority doesn't make the news, because there is a better anecdote when the victim is 7 and she was in federal custody. And it is that which must be discussed.

To our liberal media, every illegal immigrant is assumed to be a virtuous person and more virtuous than the Border Patrol. The media routinely ignore anecdotal stories of illegal immigrants who kill people, until they can't ignore them. In the summer of 2015, an illegal immigrant who'd been deported five times shot 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco. Then-candidate Donald Trump (and Fox News) made that death an issue, which everyone else resisted. The same Washington Post that put this 7-year-old migrant girl in the paper as Democrats made her an issue ignored Steinle in the print edition for months.


It's a safe bet that if Trump hadn't made an issue of Steinle, the issue would have died with her.

The networks covered the story for a few days, but when then-President Obama's press secretary Josh Earnest actually blamed Steinle's death on Republican obstruction, the networks ignored it.

All of this illustrates that "news" from the Old Media is very carefully massaged and managed to achieve maximum political effectiveness for the left.

"Don't Believe the Liberal Media" has long been the conservatives' tag line. This is yet another reason why.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog 

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