SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Newsrooms face conundrum with caravan coverage

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. ...

Posted: Oct 24, 2018 10:02 AM
Updated: Oct 24, 2018 10:02 AM

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

This is Oliver Darcy in for Brian Stelter.

21st Century Fox

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Companies

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Fox News

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Journalism and news media

Media industry

North America

Political Figures - US

The Americas

United States

US federal government

White House

Too much caravan coverage?

It's a provocative question, but step back and ask yourself: Why is a caravan of migrants 1,000 miles away from the US border saturating American news coverage? I'm not diminishing the humanitarian element to the story, which does warrant attention, but the truth is that it's unlikely the story would be covered so thoroughly on the airwaves, in the newspapers and on various websites if President Trump were not talking about it. It's news because Trump has made it news. This is an issue that, with just two weeks to go until the midterm election, Trump wants to discuss. And it's working.

"What started out as one of Fox News' pet issues has become a major media narrative thanks to the feedback loop between the network and President Donald Trump," writes Lis Power, the director of media intelligence for the liberal watchdog group Media Matters. Power notes that CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have devoted hours of coverage in the last several days to the caravan.

>> Media Matters president Angelo Carusone asks in a tweet: "For perspective: It'll take this group what..another 20-30 days to get to the border. Other than a prez election, what impending issue gets this much coverage this far out?"

The conundrum for newsrooms

Now, to be fair, much of the coverage news organizations are dedicating to the caravan situation has been good. Network correspondents like CNN's Bill Weir, ABC's Matt Gutman, CBS' Adriana Diaz and others have been telling the stories of the people in the caravan, putting a face on this humanitarian crisis.

In addition, a significant chunk of the coverage is focused on debunking conspiracy theories floated by the president and his allies in right-wing media. But that still raises a question newsrooms have repeatedly had to face in the Trump era: Do you ignore the issue and let Trump and his media allies peddle falsehoods, or do you spend time fact-checking the disinformation, potentially at the cost of giving the issue oxygen and legitimizing it as a news story?

Speaking of fact-checking

Fox News' chief news anchor Shepard Smith spent a portion of his program fact-checking some of the fear-mongering that has been peddled by his own colleagues on his own network. In a segment, Smith stressed that the caravan is near 1,000 miles away from the southern US border. "It's nowhere near the US border. The group today is at the southern tip of Mexico. ... Google says that is a 1,082-mile walk to McAllen, Texas, on the US border. A 353-hour walk, says Google. At 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, they are at least 44 days away at minimum."

Meanwhile, also on Fox...

Fox News has been down in Texas at the border all week as the network covers the caravan — and on Tuesday the channel aired a report from correspondent Griff Jenkins. In the report, Jenkins is seen hiding in the bushes -- he says in the package that he "laid in the bushes in wait" — waiting for a family to cross the border illegally. As a handful of immigrants attempted to cross, Jenkins emerges and the group heads back across the river. "GRIFF FOILS ILLEGALS' ATTEMPT TO CROSS BORDER," the chyron read.

Eventually, Jenkins finds the group that attempted to cross and peppers them with questions. When Jenkins asks a woman in the group if she was attempting to knowingly cross illegally, the woman answers that she was fleeing Honduras for lack of economic opportunity. The chyron on Fox? "ILLEGAL ADMITS TO KNOWINGLY BREAKING THE LAW." I checked in with a Fox News spokesperson to see if the network had any comment on the segment, but didn't receive a reply...

"An unethical excuse for journalism"

Someone who did want to discuss the Fox News segment was Columbia Journalism School professor Todd Gitlin who told me by email he found the segment to be "an unethical excuse for journalism, presented sensationally in order to stir up hostility to immigrants and to rally Trump's base." Gitlin, who said the segment amounted to a "propaganda exercise masquerading as journalism," told me that Jenkins "violates one of the canons of serious journalism — that the reporter does not intervene in the action described in the news report."

>> Gitlin also noted: "What the relation is between the 'caravan' and these river-crossers is by no means clear."

FOR THE RECORD

-- Matthew Yglesias examines what he calls the "hack gap" and how it allows conservatives to place a "huge constant thumb on the scale" in terms of news coverage... (Vox)

-- Refinery29 lays off more than 40 full time employees (about 10% of its staff) as the publisher misses its revenue target for the year... (WSJ)

-- Media law professor Jonathan Peters writes about how "libel law is having a moment..." (CJR)

Read more of Tuesday's Reliable Sources newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

-- Fox News host Jeanine Pirro was scolded on Tuesday by a sitting judge during proceedings involving a lawsuit filed by DeRay McKesson. The sitting judge said of Pirro, "She's a judge, a former DA. You'd think she'd understand what we are dealing with. ... You'd think she could be clear and accurate. You think she would know better..." (THR)

-- Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has laid off all 12 journalists from his new media website... (The Verge)

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 454989

Reported Deaths: 6163
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin943781502
Ramsey40624748
Dakota33540354
Anoka31357368
Washington20533237
Stearns18091190
St. Louis13970250
Scott1217799
Wright11791107
Olmsted1078075
Sherburne829669
Carver704439
Clay658884
Rice624274
Kandiyohi558072
Blue Earth548033
Crow Wing490478
Otter Tail464268
Chisago459538
Benton423688
Winona394548
Douglas379366
Nobles374647
Mower373729
Goodhue356863
Polk330760
McLeod328147
Beltrami315748
Morrison314545
Lyon305539
Becker288939
Itasca287343
Isanti285643
Carlton284043
Steele278910
Pine270315
Freeborn254123
Todd233730
Nicollet229438
Brown218034
Mille Lacs215645
Le Sueur214216
Cass210724
Meeker201333
Waseca193216
Wabasha17463
Martin171926
Roseau166417
Hubbard150738
Redwood141127
Houston140014
Dodge13934
Renville138440
Chippewa133032
Cottonwood129018
Fillmore12698
Wadena120818
Rock112012
Aitkin111433
Sibley10997
Faribault109416
Watonwan10688
Pennington101016
Kanabec99618
Pipestone96823
Yellow Medicine94916
Murray9117
Jackson87310
Swift84518
Pope7475
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68814
Lake66315
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin6339
Koochiching60610
Lincoln4912
Unassigned47369
Big Stone4693
Grant4388
Norman4258
Mahnomen4167
Kittson37420
Red Lake3204
Traverse2613
Lake of the Woods1961
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 311430

Reported Deaths: 4433
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46841465
Linn18065279
Scott15872172
Black Hawk14090243
Woodbury13129181
Johnson1230052
Dubuque11625159
Pottawattamie9166115
Dallas908972
Story881038
Cerro Gordo473572
Webster472477
Sioux459757
Warren459339
Clinton458168
Marshall431162
Buena Vista396330
Muscatine396178
Des Moines395143
Plymouth353270
Wapello350798
Jasper332859
Lee324632
Marion309353
Jones274950
Henry267131
Carroll258434
Bremer250148
Crawford234724
Boone222917
Washington222933
Benton213650
Mahaska197937
Jackson195032
Tama190259
Dickinson188829
Kossuth180644
Delaware176236
Clay172521
Wright167124
Fayette166024
Hamilton162330
Buchanan162224
Winneshiek160820
Harrison158562
Hardin157931
Cedar155619
Clayton153849
Butler151724
Page147115
Floyd141636
Cherokee140127
Mills138517
Lyon137533
Poweshiek135224
Hancock131924
Allamakee130930
Iowa127722
Madison123910
Calhoun12349
Grundy122628
Winnebago122229
Jefferson122125
Mitchell116837
Louisa116230
Cass115243
Chickasaw113712
Appanoose112640
Sac112215
Union111623
Emmet111332
Humboldt106819
Shelby105527
Guthrie104424
Franklin103618
Unassigned10160
Palo Alto92411
Montgomery89124
Keokuk86326
Howard85919
Monroe82220
Clarke8129
Pocahontas78211
Ida76030
Davis70321
Greene6977
Adair69620
Monona68518
Lucas66710
Osceola64711
Worth6194
Taylor5999
Fremont5246
Van Buren50215
Decatur4974
Ringgold45111
Audubon4228
Wayne42021
Adams3003
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
20° wxIcon
Hi: 20° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 10°
Mason City
Cloudy
17° wxIcon
Hi: 20° Lo: 6°
Feels Like: 2°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
18° wxIcon
Hi: 18° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: 5°
Austin
Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 20° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: 9°
Charles City
Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 21° Lo: 8°
Feels Like: 6°
Snowstorm to our south
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events