Kids in cages: The fake news that made child separation a big story

Let me say up front that there is obviously a real issue here. If we pursue a zero tolerance policy at the border that means children, some of them very young, will be separated from their parents since children can’t be kept in holding cells with adults. It’s a real issue. But it’s noteworthy at this point how many times the activists on the left have crawled toward the real issue using what can only be called fake news. You may have forgotten by now but this issue really kicked off last month when a group of progressive activists started tweeting out this photo:

In addition to Sarsour, this image was also shared by BLM activist Shaun King, Podcaster Jon Favreau, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, actresses Rosanna Arquette and Mia Farrow and thousands of others who aren’t as well known. The only problem: These photos were from 2014. The Associated Press published a fact check:

The photos, taken by The Associated Press, were from 2014, during the Obama administration, but were presented by liberal activists as if they showed the effects of Trump’s immigration policy now. Villaraigosa, Favreau and some others deleted their tweets when the mistake was pointed out.

By the way, the #WhereAreOurChildren hashtag used by Sarsour and others was also a bit of left-wing confusion/misdirection. As the AP pointed out, “The nearly 1,500 children in question arrived at the border without their parents and were not forced from them by U.S. authorities. Critics are conflating those children with others, who came to the border with their parents, only to be separated there.”

The photo above wasn’t the only mistake/misdirection activists on the left would offer. Earlier this month, undocumented reporter Jose Vargas shared this photo showing another child in a cage.

As you can see, this has been liked and retweeted tens of thousands of times. And Vargas was not the only person sharing this photo. But this was fake news too. The photo wasn’t from a detention center, but from a protest:

I’m going to quote Snopes because even they got this right:

As it turned out, the photograph was taken on 10 June 2018, but it did not show a child confined by immigration authorities to a cage. Rather, it was snapped during a protest staged in front of Dallas City Hall to call attention to the Trump administration’s practice of separating families and confining undocumented children. Different photographs of the event document that the same child was standing a mocked-up “cage” open at the top, and several commenters noted that the boy was crying not because he was confined, but because he saw his mother outside the pen and could not immediately figure out how to get to her.

Finally, we come to this photo:

This photo became the image of the crisis (well, the 3rd one anyway) and wound up on the cover of Time Magazine. Though it doesn’t show the little girl in a cage, the implication is that she’s crying because she’s about to be separated from her mother.

Only, as Ed pointed out this morning, this girl was never separated from her mother. Her mother did leave 3 other kids behind to try to enter the U.S. after having been previously deported, but she and her daughter were not separated.

Again, there is a real issue here with a couple thousand kids that really were separated from their parents. But the process by which this became the most emotional issue in the country has relied on a series of misleading photographs spread first by activists and finally by the major media. The media is still trying to get the story straight. As you can see above, after each dishonest photo, we eventually get a fact-check, but by that point the outrage whipped up by the fake image has already taken hold. This is the “hands up, don’t shoot” approach to journalism all over again.

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