The pro-Trump Sinclair Broadcast Group launched a new “must-run” segment for the hundreds of local news stations it owns across the country, in which it defends the use of tear gas on child migrants attempting to cross the border on Sunday.
“The migrant crisis on our southern border has greatly escalated,” Sinclair’s chief political analyst and former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn says in the segment. “This past weekend…. Dozens of migrants attacked U.S. border enforcement by throwing rocks and bottles. Ultimately, American authorities had to use tear gas to stop the attacks.”
— Pam Vogel (@pamela_vogel) November 27, 2018
“The fact of the matter is that this is an attempted invasion of our country. Period,” Epshteyn continued. “Our border must remain intact and secure.”
While the scenes at the border were chaotic, none of the migrants were armed and there was no organized attack on the border or Border Patrol agents. Multiple children were in the crowd, however, and photos of them fleeing the tear gas have gone viral on social media. According to medical professionals, the tear gas could lead to long-term respiratory problems for the children.
BREAKING A girl from Honduras, part of the migrant caravan in Tijuana, Mexico, cries after US agents in California deployed tear gas across the San Ysidro border.
📷 @Reuters/@topixkim pic.twitter.com/sGs4rjG4Oz
— James Cook (@BBCJamesCook) November 25, 2018
Prior to joining Sinclair, Epshteyn was a senior adviser to the Trump campaign and also briefly served as a special assistant in the Trump White House, where he oversaw administration officials who appeared on TV. Epshteyn also pleaded guilty to an assault charge in 2014 and was questioned by the House Intelligence Committee in relation to his business ties to Russia.
Sinclair media has become infamous for airing its “must-run” segments through its network of 173 local TV stations — equivalent to a station in four out of 10 of every U.S. homes. The “must-run” segments are nothing more than pro-Trump propaganda. During the child separation crisis, for instance, Sinclair ran a segment by Epshteyn in which he dismissed the concern as “politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media” and said the policy showed that the Trump administration was “working to show that it is possible to balance humanity with security.”
When Sinclair faced controversy after people started noting that its “must-run” segments featured dozens of anchors parroting the same talking points, the company dismissed the concerns as “liberal bias” and added that “we hope you won’t buy into the hysteria and hype.”
Of course, Sinclair isn’t the only pro-Trump media outlet to dismiss concerns about the U.S. tear-gassing children. On Monday, Fox & Friends devoted three hours to talking about the migrant caravan and defending the use of tear gas against mothers and their young children.
“The caravan has a core of violence in it which basically communicates a sense of entitlement,” former U.S. Border Patrol deputy chief Ron Colburn told Fox & Friends. “[The tear gas was] absolutely [warranted]. To clarify the type of deterrent being used is OC pepper spray, it’s literally water, pepper with a small amount of alcohol… you could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.”
Meanwhile, on the far-right, the familiar trope of crisis actors has begun to emerge, with conspiracy theorists claiming that the photos of mothers and children fleeing the scene were proof of a “hoax” because the photos of the scene were “TOO perfect.”