Media purposefully distort remarks from Sarah Sanders to attack Trump

January 8, 2019

Media purposefully distort remarks from Sarah Sanders to attack Trump By Michael Candelori /

The mainstream media is busy bludgeoning to death a story suggesting that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied by telling Fox News host Chris Wallace that 4,000 suspected terrorists were apprehended crossing the U.S. southern border.

There’s just one problem: Sanders never said during the Wallace interview that 4,000 known or suspected terrorists were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, the press secretary said: “We know that, roughly, nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.”

See for yourself:

Putting words in her mouth

It was on Friday, during a “Fox and Friends” interview, that Sanders incorrectly stated, “Last year alone there were nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists that CBP picked up that came across our southern border.”

However, by Sunday’s interview with Wallace, Sanders had corrected her statement, saying that “a large number” were apprehended at airports, and that terrorist border crossings occur “by air,” “by land” and “by sea.”

But that wasn’t good enough for dozens of media outlets waiting to pounce on any statement from the Trump administration and run it through their liberal fact-checking machines. “White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday continued to push the Trump administration’s false claims that terrorists pour into the U.S. across the border with Mexico,” wrote HuffPost.

White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway even appeared on Fox News with Laura Ingraham on Monday, where she said that Sanders made “an unfortunate misstatement.”

Even here the media flubbed the White House correction. The establishment newspaper The Hill attributed Conway’s apology to the Wallace interview, when Sanders clearly admitted that the 4,000 suspected terrorists were apprehended primarily at airports.

NBC News also failed to make note of Sanders’ concession. The network news publication cited U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics indicating that just six suspected terrorists were encountered at ports of entry on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018, before challenging Sanders’ figures.

“The low number contradicts statements by Trump administration officials, including White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said Friday that CBP stopped nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists from crossing the southern border in fiscal year 2018,” NBC News contributor Julia Ainsley wrote.

Strawman argument

Conway later explained that Sanders’ misstatement of the facts “got conflated by a colleague.”

”That was an unfortunate misstatement and everybody makes mistakes, all of us,” Conway told Ingraham. “The fact is, it’s corrected here and anybody who turns a blind eye to the actual numbers of human trafficking, the increase in the drugs, we are concerned about your children here in the United States not being subject to all these drugs and we’re concerned about their children.”

The dishonest media could have just as easily challenged Wallace for suggesting that “there hasn’t been any terrorists coming across the southern border.” According to the statistics NBC used to smear Sanders, “41 people on the Terrorist Screening Database were encountered at the southern border from Oct. 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.”

The facts

There is also reason to suspect that border patrol agents would have detained far more special interest aliens in the second half of fiscal year 2018. The Trump administration’s border surge didn’t begin until May 2018, when the Secretary of the Interior flexed 22 additional law enforcement agents to “Interior-managed lands” along the southern border.

During the six months that followed, border patrol agents apprehended nearly 4,000 percent more illegal immigrants on federally controlled lands along the U.S.-Mexico border. It stands to reason, then, that a proportionate increase in suspected terrorist detainments would have occurred.

But don’t expect the anti-Trump media to consider these statistics; their one and only concern is to play “gotcha” with the administration, undermining the president’s national security agenda so that his most fundamental campaign pledge remains unfulfilled.

Correction: a previous version of this article failed to differentiate between Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Friday interview with “Fox and Friends,” when she said that “4,000 known or suspected terrorists … came across our southern border,” and a Sunday interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace when Sanders conceded that this number came “by air,” “by land” and “by sea.”


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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.