Things That Matter

Fox News Reported On CBP Using Tear Gas On “Combative” Migrants This Weekend But Officials Had No Information On This Incident

A Fox News headline published on Saturday, July 20th, read “Border agents use tear gas to stop nearly 50 undocumented migrants who stormed Rio Grande bridge.” But the last time a report was published about tear gas used on migrants at the border was January 3, 2019, and it made international news. Here’s Fox’s story:

According to Fox, 47 migrants “rushed” the Pharr International Bridge, and assaulted officers.

Fox and Friends

“A CBP official told Fox News the group attempted to rush across the bridge in three waves,” the article states. FOX quotes the alleged CBP official, “Ignoring commands to stop, the group suddenly rushed the temporary barricades, bent metal poles and disabled the concertina wire affixed to the barrier.”

Fox reports the group strategically rushed the bridge in three waves around 4 a.m. Allegedly, the bridge’s reopening, typically at 6 a.m., was delayed by two hours because CBP had to construct temporary barriers in the middle of the night.

Fox says the violence and destruction were so bad, Pharr Police were called to the scene.

@PharrTx / Twitter

This “official” tells Fox that “CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, Pharr police and members of the Texas Department of Public Safety were called upon to prevent the group’s entry.”

CBP and Pharr police have not mentioned this at all, though, by the time the bridge reopened, the Twitter account linked to Pharr PD’s website shared about their morning golf course clean up.

Fox links alleged migrants to the drug cartel.

Fox and Friends

In a Fox and Friends news clip, the hosts attempt to draw a connection between the migrants and the drug cartel, saying, “The cartel controls that area, so if those people are trying to [cross there], they’re not doing it without at least the knowledge of the cartel which means that something is going on.”

They also want to make the point that it’s incidents like these that Democrats use to “vilify” Border Patrol but what else were they supposed to do?

We called Pharr International Bridge’s offices and they were “not aware” of use of force or of the bridge’s closing.

Fox and Friends

The person who answered said that we should call back tomorrow to speak with his manager for an official statement. We asked if he was aware of Border Patrol using tear gas on migrants, resulting in the bridge temporarily closing, and he said, “I’m not aware of anything like that.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection had no published statement regarding use of force by its agents by the time of this publication.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Typically, there would at least be traffic reports of the bridge closure, as it would affect an innumerable amount of businesses who rely on the bridge for commerce. At least one outlet, CBS Valley Central references “a [media] release from Customs and Border Protection” that seemingly does not exist.

The single image used by Fox was published days earlier by other outlets.

@frank69oo7 / Twitter

There was no footage of the alleged July 20th incident and a reverse image search found that the single image used by Fox was published on other outlets beginning as early as July 17, 2019.

The “official” specifically told Fox that the alleged victims of tear gas were “several males in the group [who] disregarded commands to stop and physically pushed through the barriers.” Sixteen individuals were either federally charged or pending charges for “interference.”

The misinformation has since spread to the likes of New York Post, The Blaze, and more, all referencing Fox News.

Fox News / New York Post

Biz Pac Review even used this headline, “Horde of violent migrants storm Texas bridge punching, kicking and rushing border patrol officers.” More and more alt-right outlets are picking up the piece as it’s gone viral for the conservative online community.

Fox’s article has inspired calls for more violence against migrants.

@frank69oo7 / Twitter

It’s nearly impossible to find a public comment on Fox News’ initial reporting of the tear gas attack without finding threats of more violence. This user enthusiastically, in all caps, says, “GOOD, STOP THEM. MAY HAVE TO USE BASE BALL BATS, BUT STOP THEM.”

Tear gas is so abrasive that, in 1993, the U.S. outlawed the use of tear gas in war.

@RetiredNYCPD / Twitter

It’s something that nations across the world have definitely outlawed as a weapon they wouldn’t inflict on their own worst enemies. The inhalation of tear gas causes victims’ eyes to swell, throats to tighten, uncontrollable gagging and often vomiting for a full hour before the agent leaves the system.

Tear gas is legal for U.S. federal and local law enforcement to use as a method of riot control.

Still, some think tear gas isn’t enough.

@onurb1952 / Twitter

Twitter user @RogerMcEntyre shared Fox’s news report with the caption, “Finally! Machine guns with rubber bullets work too.”

Extreme right conservatives are using the gap in reporting from credible outlets as fuel for the fire.

@AndrewPollackFL / Twitter

Andrew Pollack’s tweet has been liked and retweeted over 11,000 times in less than 24 hours.

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