In the Era of Split-Screen Views of the Border, Each Side Has Its Story, and the Political Implications Are Enormous

By Jerry Kammer on June 4, 2019

In April, as the numbers of asylum-seeking Central Americans reaching the Texas border steadily grew, the New York Times reported that the influx had become so overwhelming that the U.S. government "is now unable to provide either the necessary humanitarian relief for desperate migrants or even basic controls on the number and nature of who is entering the United States."

Among the 1,343 readers' comments posted on the Times website, one cited the story's political implications so powerfully that it drew a remarkable 967 "recommends" from other readers. Its message was blunt: "My fellow Democrats need to confront an ugly fact of life: They need to get tougher on immigration or Trump will ride this crisis to another four years. We cannot take in 1 million desperately poor Central Americans a year. It is unsustainable and, if left unchecked, will produce a reactionary backlash dwarfing that of 2016." Another reader drew 256 "recommends" for his dismayed observation about the failure of congressional Democrats to push for action to constrain the influx: "They are fiddling while the country is burning."

Two months later, as the number of asylum-seekers has grown further and the desperation of the Border Patrol has mounted, the Democrats and their enablers at MSNBC continue their what-me-worry? indifference to the legal and procedural loopholes that have reduced our border security forces to the humiliating task of completing the final leg of a vast human smuggling operation. The traffic is bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the criminal cartels who promote and organize it. It is also draining and demoralizing the U.S. agencies whose mission is supposed to be homeland security. It is a farce of paralysis with enormous implications for our democracy and for next year's elections.

A few months ago, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" was repeatedly ridiculing the claims of a mounting crisis on the border. Host Joe Scarborough insisted that the numbers of Central Americans were trivial compared to the 1.6 million arrests that the Border Patrol made in 2000. MSNBC, which serves as the communications arm of the Democratic Party with as much fervor as Fox News brings to its advocacy for the GOP, confined its concern and outrage to the cruelty of the family-separation policies used by the Trump administration in a clumsily desperate attempt to check the influx. Meanwhile, Fox and Friends was aflame with the "CRISIS AT THE BORDER." It constantly showed footage of the bedraggled migrants clogging Mexican roads on their way northward to seek out Border Patrol agents, knowing that they would soon be set free.

Yesterday, the MSNBC/Fox split screen view of the border was once again glaringly in evidence.

MSNBC continue to be fixated on Trump's multiple offenses against long-standing political manners and mores. In the land of Mika and Maddow, the "Trump-is-the-crisis" story line is the overriding concern. Morning Joe Co-anchor Willie Geist asked actor Jeff Daniels, who is playing Atticus Finch in the Broadway adaptation of "To Kill a Mocking Bird", what the play has to say "about this moment we're living in now." Daniels, contrasting his character with President Trump, said, "Here's a guy, Atticus Finch, who is everything right about America. He is our national conscience...He believes in decency, respect for others, civility, truth.... I think it's a time when we need an Atticus Finch more than ever."

In a separate segment of the show, George Will appeared to bemoan the damage Trump is doing to "the aesthetics" of American politics. "You cannot get over the changes we've made in the way we talk to and about one another," he said.

Meanwhile, over at Fox and Friends, hosts Peter Doocy and Brian Kilmeade were tearing their hair out over what they see as the Democrats' feckless and inert mishandling of this moment at the Mexican border. They mocked those who are upset only about the crammed detention centers where asylum-seekers are processed before being released. They showed a tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who demanded a stop to the "dehumanization" inflicted on the migrants. They followed Sanders' fulminations with the rebuttal of Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the Texas Republican and former Navy Seal known for the eye patch he has worn since suffering an injury in combat. Taking a swipe at Trump's critics, he said, "They're virtue signaling because they actually want this crisis to keep going so they can keep campaigning about it. And they won't listen to actual solutions."

Doocy drew the moral of the story of dysfunction. "We're talking about Washington, D.C., and it's so poisonous down there right now. Nobody wants to help anybody get ahead. And they certainly don't want to give Donald Trump a win." Added Kilmeade: "They should all resign then, and put people in there that want to get something done."