June 22, 2018

CBS News Acknowledges ‘Misinformation’ on Crying 2-Year-Old Child at Border

While it doesn’t make up for the days of related media-generated fake news, it is noteworthy that Friday’s This Morning program on CBS followed up on the story associated with the “iconic” photo of two-year-old Yanela Denise Hernandez at the U.S.-Mexico border. CBS has confirmed that “at no point” were the mother, Sandra Sanchez, and her daughter “ever separated.” Though reporter David Begnaud failed to mention the husband and three children Sandra Sanchez left behind in Honduras, as disclosed in the husband’s Thursday UK Daily Mailinterview covered Friday morning at NewsBusters, he did reveal several additional inconvenient facts about the border encounter and about Sandra herself, including her 2013 deportation.

Even though David Begnaud’s “great reporting” was recognized at the end of the segment, host Norah O’Donnell’s reluctance to acknowledge the full extent and significance of the widespread journalistic failures and deceptions associated with the photo — though it’s now obvious that the photo-driven narratives have completely fallen apart, she only admitted that it “might be a little misleading” — is clear in her introduction. This reluctance was also echoed by Bernaud himself early in his otherwise strong report (related CBS text story is here):


NORAH O’DONNELL: For the first time, we’re hearing from the Border Patrol agent involved in the dramatic scene that’s come to symbolize U.S. immigration policy.

The picture of a Honduran girl crying as she and her mother are detained in Texas has grabbed people’s attention worldwide. Time Magazine put her on its cover, but the photo might be a little misleading.

In an interview you’ll see only on CBS This Morning, the border agent shows us what happened in the moments before it was taken. David Begnaud is with us again from McAllen. David, good morning.

DAVID BEGNAUD: Good morning. You may have seen the photo, even shared it on social media. A lot of people have. There is some misinformation surrounding what happened, and we wanted to try and clear it up.

All week we’ve been trying to get an interview with this Border Patrol agent to get his account. And so now you’re about to hear from the agent and the photographer who were together for nearly 10 hours on a ride-along.

A lot of you have asked us, “Where are the mother and child right now?” We can confirm that they are together. The federal government tells us they are being housed at a facility in Texas right now.

Here now is the Border Patrol agent who detained them.


BORDER PATROL AGENT CARLOS RUIZ: We were patrolling the border. It was after 10 o’clock at night.

BEGNAUD: That is Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz, who says he was the first to encounter Sandra Sanchez and her young daughter after they allegedly crossed the Rio Grande River into Texas illegally.

RUIZ: We asked her to set the kid down in front of her, not away from her, she was right in front of her, and — so we could properly search the mother. So the kid immediately started crying when she set her down. I personally went up to the mother and asked her, “Are you doing okay? Is the kid okay?” And she said, “Yes. She’s tired and thirsty. It’s 11 o’clock at night.”

JOHN MOORE: When I took this picture, I knew it would be important. I had no way of knowing that it would touch people quite on the level that it has.

BEGNAUD: That’s Getty photographer John Moore, who joined Ruby’s for a nearly nine-hour ride-along on the border. He was just feet from Sanchez and the little girl.

MOORE: I asked her how long she’d been traveling, and she gave me this very weary look, and she said she been on the road with her daughter for a month. Imagine doing that with the children. It’s almost impossible to imagine, actually.

BEGNAUD: Moore’s image is now on the cover of Time Magazine, next to a picture of the President.

RUIZ: They’re using it to symbolize a policy, and that was not the case in this picture. It took less than two minutes, and as soon as the search was finished, she immediately picked the girl up, and the girl immediately stopped crying.

The transcript is being paused here because readers need to understand that photographer John Moore, who has personally been careful in his own descriptions of the photo, is nevertheless “okay” (his word) and “happy” (Begnaud’s word) with how it has been used to dishonestly manipulate the public’s emotions:

BEGNAUD: Moore says Ruiz and other agents acted professionally that night. But he is happy with the (Time) cover, and the response to the image.

MOORE: Oftentimes, immigration is talked about in terms of statistics. And when you put a human face and you humanize an issue, you make people feel. And when you make people feel, they have compassion. And if I’ve done just a little bit of that, then that’s okay.

Even though he has children, it apparently hasn’t occurred to Moore that a parent embarking on a month-long, 1400-mile trip through harsh terrain, hot weather, and otherwise dangerous areas with a two-year-old can fairly be accused of child endangerment.

Moore’s indefensible contentment with how his photo has been misused to promote patently false narratives apparently extends to even more inconvenient facts Begnaud revealed, and which Moore himself has since surely learned, in the final minute of the segment:

RUIZ: We are also fathers. We’re also sons. We also have families. And we do care, and we do our jobs, and we treat these people as humanely and as best as we possibly can.

(returning to live broadcast)

BEGNAUD: So we have more information about where the mother and daughter are being kept right now. They are currently in the custody of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and they are being housed at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

Now ICE tells us in this statement that immigration proceedings are ongoing.

You should also know this: ICE says on June 3, 2013, the mother who you just saw in that story was encountered, detained, and arrested by immigration officials in Hebbronville, Texas. She was transferred to ICE custody in 2013 and deported to Honduras. And so they’re saying this is now her second time coming into the country illegally.

Again, she and the daughter are together, and the Border Patrol says (that) at no point were they ever separated — not in the custody of Border Patrol, and ICE is saying they haven’t been separated in our custody.

We have not been able to talk to the mother. We can only go by what the government officials are telling us.

IN-STUDIO HOSTS: Thank you very much. Great reporting.

It’s not surprising that Sandra Sanchez isn’t talking, given that, according to her husband in that Daily Mail interview, she hasn’t spoken with him or her other three children since she left without even saying goodbye a month ago.

Now we learn that Sandra Sanchez has been deported before, which likely answers the question as to why she didn’t try to claim asylum at an official port of entry. Given the surrounding facts and circumstances, it also seems very likely that Sanchez really hoped to get past Border Patrol agents completely, and failed.

The misuse of John Moore’s photo for baseless attacks on U.S. immigration policy is yet another example of media malfeasance which justifiably feeds the public’s mistrust of their work.

Cross-posted, with possible revisions, at NewsBusters.org.


1 Comment

  1. [...] (UPDATE: In what has to be considered a surprise move, CBS News has followed up on the story. The related follow-up post is here.) [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — June 22, 2018 @ 2:59 pm

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