CBS Worries Border Crisis ‘Distracting’ From Biden Victory Lap

On Wednesday’s CBS This Morning, immediately following a sobering report about the massive illegal immigration border crisis, correspondent Ed O’Keefe fretted that the badly mishandled situation was “distracting” from President Biden’s attempted victory lap over the newly-passed COVID relief boondoggle.  

“The U.S. is holding some 13,000 unaccompanied minors after a surge in arrivals that began in January, when President Biden took office,” co-host Anthony Mason informed viewers. He then pointed to the new administration being woefully unprepared to deal with the massive influx: “The rush to open new holding facilities suggests the new administration was not ready for this migration, and critics say, it should have been.”

 

 

Reporting from the U.S. southern border, correspondent Mireaya Villarreal revealed the difficultly press outlets were having in even covering the story:

Within minutes of filming a processing center on the border, agents ask us to leave….The media’s access to federal-run sites has been restricted, making it harder to understand how the process is working. But under a bridge that connects Mexico to the United States, we were able to see dozens of children and adults waiting for processing….The unaccompanied minors are first held in short-term centers like this. The only pictures provided are from the government. But lawyers tell us children are going hungry, some showering once in seven days, and in conditions “so overcrowded that they had to take turns sleeping on the floor.”        

In fact, NBC News reported early Wednesday morning: “The Biden administration is restricting the information Border Patrol agents and sector chiefs can share with the media….officials say the restrictions are seen as an unofficial ‘gag order’ and are often referred to that way among colleagues.” Conveniently, while NBC’s Today show did report Biden being “on defense” over his immigration policies, the broadcast managed to ignore its own network scoop about the media “gag order.”

On This Morning, moments after Villarreal described the poor conditions at Border Patrol facilities, co-host Tony Dokoupil touted: “President Biden is promoting the benefits of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in trips all around the country.”  Traveling with the President for the campaign-style tour, correspondent Ed O’Keefe lamented: “That situation at the border is becoming a big political problem for the Biden administration and is, in some ways, distracting from the focus that they’re trying to keep this week and next week on the American Rescue Plan.”

The reporter then launched a full sales pitch on behalf of the pork-laden package of left-wing agenda items:

The President out selling and explaining what exactly is in the legislation, hoping to take full advantage of what, for now, is very popular legislation. But for some people we spoke with, the help can’t come soon enough….Help is coming for many in the form $1,400 stimulus payments, hitting tens of millions of bank accounts as early as today….a government survey shows Americans who’ve received previous stimulus payments are primarily spending the money on food, household supplies, bills, and rent. By spending that money instead of saving it, the larger economy also gets a boost.

In addition to the immigration coverage on CBS and NBC, on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos gently asked about the topic during a largely softball exclusive interview with President Biden aired Wednesday morning.

CBS’s concern over the humanitarian crisis at the border “distracting” from Biden’s tour of political photo-ops was brought to viewers by Amazon and Progressive. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content. 

Here is a transcript of the March 17 coverage on CBS This Morning:

7:06 AM ET

ANTHONY MASON: Some unaccompanied migrant children stopped at the U.S. Border are due to arrive today at a new temporary detention center in Dallas. The U.S. is holding some 13,000 unaccompanied minors after a surge in arrivals that began in January, when President Biden took office. The rush to open new holding facilities suggests the new administration was not ready for this migration, and critics say, it should have been. Mireya Villarreal is in McCallen, Texas. Mireya, what’s the President saying about this?

MIREYA VILLARREAL: Well, good morning, Anthony. The President had his interview last night and his message was clear to migrants – don’t come. And his reasoning was, quote, “We’re in the process of getting things set up.” But still, people are coming by the thousands, many of them children, that will end up in temporary facilities like this one. But as the government continues to get things set up, crossing the border is just the beginning of a journey that could be very long and confusing.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: 13,000+ Migrant Children In U.S. Custody; Biden Tells Migrants “Don’t Come” Amid Border Crisis Surge]

Within minutes of filming a processing center on the border, agents ask us to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [BORDER PATROL AGENT]: You can’t come out here unescorted. please stop filming.

VILLARREAL: The media’s access to federal-run sites has been restricted, making it harder to understand how the process is working. But under a bridge that connects Mexico to the United States, we were able to see dozens of children and adults waiting for processing. Families are given water, snacks, and foil blankets, while they wait to officially enter the system. The unaccompanied minors are first held in short-term centers like this. The only pictures provided are from the government. But lawyers tell us children are going hungry, some showering once in seven days, and in conditions “so overcrowded that they had to take turns sleeping on the floor.”

(…)

7:10 AM ET

TONY DOKOUPIL: President Biden is promoting the benefits of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in trips all around the country. The first of those trips was to Pennsylvania yesterday. And our Ed O’Keefe is traveling with the President in Wilmington, Delaware, this morning. Ed, good morning to you.

ED O’KEEFE: Good morning, Tony. That situation at the border is becoming a big political problem for the Biden administration and is, in some ways, distracting from the focus that they’re trying to keep this week and next week on the American Rescue Plan. The President out selling and explaining what exactly is in the legislation, hoping to take full advantage of what, for now, is very popular legislation. But for some people we spoke with, the help can’t come soon enough.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Relief Plan Promotion; Pres. Biden Leads “Help is Here” Campaign as Stimulus Checks Arrive]  

SARAH PROCTER: This will at least give them an opportunity to catch up on their bills, buy food for their family.

O’KEEFE: Sarah Procter runs a food bank at St. Paul CME Church in Chester, Pennsylvania, and says they’ve seen a 30% jump in customers since the pandemic began. Help is coming for many in the form $1,400 stimulus payments, hitting tens of millions of bank accounts as early as today. Do you have any sense of how that money might help or what you would do with it?

DEBORAH COOPER [CHESTER, PA RESIDENT]: A lot of people are behind in their bills, exactly. Electric bill, phone bills, everything.

O’KEEFE: Sure enough, a government survey shows Americans who’ve received previous stimulus payments are primarily spending the money on food, household supplies, bills, and rent. By spending that money instead of saving it, the larger economy also gets a boost. In Chester, President Biden visited a flooring company to launch a national tour promoting the relief bill and to encourage Americans to get vaccinated.

JOE BIDEN: We’re going to get 100 million shots in people’s arms within the first 60 days of my administration.

(…)

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