The crisis at the southern border is bad enough that even mainstream media outlets like CNN have been forced to cover it. The spin is vastly different than what you’ll see at conservative outlets, particularly with a lack of any suggestion that Joe Biden’s policies and open border rhetoric could be to blame, but at least it’s being discussed. But there are a couple of things notably missing from the coverage. For one thing, you rarely see any pictures or video from the detention centers, unlike the blaring coverage such issues received when Donald Trump was in office. You’re also not getting much in the way of interviews with border enforcement officials. Even NBC News was forced to admit this week that the Biden administration has effectively issued a gag order for the Border Patrol to avoid poor coverage of the chaotic scenes on the border.
The Biden administration is restricting the information Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs can share with the media as a surge of migrants tests the agency’s capacity at the southern border, according to two current and two former Customs and Border Protection officials.
The officials say the restrictions are seen as an unofficial “gag order” and are often referred to that way among colleagues. The officials requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media about the topic.
Border Patrol officials have been told to deny all media requests for “ride-alongs” with agents along the southern border; local press officers are instructed to send all information queries, even from local media, to the press office in Washington for approval; and those responsible for cultivating data about the number of migrants in custody have been reminded not to share the information with anyone to prevent leaks, the officials said.
So much for the new era of White House transparency, I suppose. Why are we not seeing more outrage from the Washington Post, the New York Times or CNN? Where are the complaints about the authoritarian muzzling of the media? Even as the major press outlets do manage to mention the situation, shouldn’t they be rebelling against this blackout? Or is criticism of a Democratic administration still verboten to the point where most of them will quietly sit on their hands?
Over at the Washington Examiner, Byron York reminds us that a picture is almost always worth a thousand words if not more. And while politicians generally try to avoid bad political optics in a figurative sense, the Biden administration is seeking to crush the availability of literal optics when it comes to the border crisis. This is “the Biden blackout.”
The descriptions sound bad — and they are bad. But in the world of media and politics, what stirs popular outrage in a story like this is pictures. It’s one thing for Americans to read descriptions of young people in jail cells. It’s another thing for Americans to see photos and videos of young people in jail cells. Remember the uproar over the Trump administration’s so-called “kids in cages” policy? It was stoked by media organizations showing pictures of what was happening.
So now, the Biden White House appears to be determined not to let Americans see what is going on. The administration has not given the press access to the detention facilities. Nor has it given access to the nonprofit lawyers mentioned above, even though the administration is legally required to do so. On the migrant issue, there is a Biden Blackout.
Amazingly, during Monday’s press briefing, one report summoned the courage to ask Jen Psaki when cameras would be allowed in either the Border Patrol or the HHS facilities because they had been asking “for weeks.” Psaki responded by saying that Joe Biden still supports transparency, but she then went on to put the responsibility for allowing reporters in on the shoulders of DHS and HHS, saying there were concerns over COVID protocols and “the privacy of people who are staying in those facilities.”
You know, it’s funny, but I don’t recall Joe Biden complaining about the privacy rights of migrant children during all of the “kids in cages” coverage of immigrant detention centers during the previous administration. And the reporters down on the border are all wearing masks. Isn’t it up to them if they want to risk going into the detention centers? Seriously, folks… the hypocrisy of this administration is reaching stunning levels, and the muted response to these gag orders from the world of mainstream journalism is quite telling.