Fox News wants you to be very afraid of what's happening at the border

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Fox News has escalated efforts to stoke fears about a caravan of Central American migrants amid clashes at the United States-Mexico border.

Scenes of US Border Patrol agents firing tear gas at migrants were shown across multiple news outlets over the weekend after US authorities closed off a major border crossing when members of a Central American migrant caravan rushed the area. They’re on Fox News, too, where anchors are hard at work inciting panic over the situation at the border. Applying for asylum at a port of entry or within the US, which many of these migrants are trying to do, is legal.

Media Matters for America senior fellow Matt Gertz on Monday morning posted screengrabs from the conservative network’s morning programming, including chyrons reading, “Crisis erupts as migrants storm the US border,” and “Caravan crisis escalates at the US border.” Fox News showed footage of migrants reportedly hitting border agents with rocks and bottles.

In an interview on Fox News, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke of a “war” on the border.

“What people are trying to do is a psychological war, very often guided, by the way, by American leftists who are activists and American left-wing organizations who are helping finance it,” he said, referencing a conspiracy theory that some progressives and Democrats are financing the migrant caravan.

Conservative commentator and NRATV host Dan Bongino echoed the panic.

“I don’t mean to be hyperbolic about it, but clearly what happened yesterday were people trying to invade our border,” he said. “What do you believe?”

Guests also defended using pepper spray on migrants.

“It’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes,” Border Patrol Foundation president Rob Colburn said in an interview with Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy. “It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.”

Fox News’s Monday coverage included a story about an undocumented immigrant involved in a deadly hit-and-run, also stoking fears about immigrants.

Ahead of the 2018 midterms, President Donald Trump began sounding the alarm about the migrant caravan from Central America, even though it was, at the time, hundreds of miles away. Fox News, of which Trump is an avid viewer and which often propagates his message, followed suit.

Vox’s Dara Lind explained what was going on:

The caravan is a perfect obsession for Trump for the same reason it’s a perfect obsession for Fox: powerful images that appear to validate conservative base fears of “invasion” by “lawless” foreigners and the countries that “send” them. Trump himself has been using imagery like this since he started his presidential campaign in 2015 and talked about Mexico “sending” rapists and murderers over the US-Mexico border.

Immediately after the midterms, Fox News stopped much of its chatter over the caravan — including suggestions that migrants carry disease and are terrorists, and that the caravan was funded by liberal billionaire George Soros. Trump stopped talking about it so much, too, after it was no longer useful for him as a way to scare voters to the polls.

But in light of the weekend’s clashes, Fox has brought the caravan frenzy back again. So has Trump, who on Saturday tweeted that migrants seeking asylum will not be allowed into the US until their claims are approved in court. “If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border,” Trump wrote.

Fox News is trying to give him the cover — and, since he’s a viewer, the encouragement — to do it.

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