Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” became the subject of ridicule and criticism on Sunday, after the show aired a lower third graphic referring to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as “3 Mexican countries.”
The blunder occurred during a segment about the Trump administration’s decision to cut aid to the Central American nations; while co-host Pete Hegseth correctly named the three affected countries, the on-screen chyron had other plans. “TRUMP CUTS U.S. AID TO 3 MEXICAN COUNTRIES,” the graphic boldly declared, leaving one to wonder: How many Mexican countries are there in total? Was this, perhaps, a missive from an alternate dimension where Mexico is a continent unto itself? And are there taco trucks on every corner there, as promised?
I was today years old when I found out Mexico was 3 countries pic.twitter.com/gVQx9cppzS
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) March 31, 2019
Eventually, co-host Ed Henry issued an on-air correction. “We had an inaccurate graphic onscreen while talking about this very story,” he explained. “We just want to be clear, the funding is being cut off to the three Central American countries. We apologize for the error—it never should’ve happened.”
But as many critics have pointed out, Fox’s frequent support of President Trump’s anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant rhetoric makes this error feel less like an innocent mistake, and more like a Freudian slip. In the eyes of the far right, it suggests, all Latinos are the same: we are all criminals, we are all Mexican, and we are all flooding into this country illegally.
This is less an error than an expression of Fox News' underlying sentiment towards most Latinos https://t.co/jixywxLtNl
— Adam Serwer (@AdamSerwer) March 31, 2019
Advocates agree that cutting aid to Central America will only exacerbate the conditions of poverty and violence that drive people to flee in search of a better life. Slowing the tide of immigration would require addressing its root causes, and grappling with the specific and nuanced problems each country faces. But the Trump administration’s cruel and ham-fisted policies are the opposite of nuanced: his solutions are to build a wall, separate families, cut off aid. In this respect, the “Fox & Friends” mistake unwittingly captures the underlying truth of the Trump administration’s views: all immigrants are the same, and they are all a threat.
As The Atlantic’s executive editor Adrienne LaFrance writes, “sometimes, a chyron can get the nature of a policy right by getting the details wrong.”