The progression of Fox's wildly misleading reporting about the closure of a small strip of land in an Arizona wildlife refuge has been quite impressive. First, "straight news" anchor Shannon Bream reported on June 15 that a "massive stretch of Arizona [is] now off limits to Americans. Critics say the administration is, in effect, giving a major strip of the Southwest back to Mexico." On June 16, Fox Nation followed by promoting her report with the laughable headline "Obama Gives Back Major Strip of AZ to Mexico." (As we noted, the closed area is about five miles square, it's been closed since 2006, and it's, uh, still U.S. territory.) A FoxNews.com article from the same day at least managed to correctly report the fact that the land has been closed since 2006.
On the evening of June 16, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put out a statement attempting to clear up confusion surrounding the closure, which is in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Part of the statement said that while the closure had been implemented "due to human safety concerns," "since 2006 the Refuge has experienced a significant decline in violent activity in the area thanks to ongoing cooperation between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Customs and Border Protection." Sounds like good news.
So, how did Fox do on June 17?
FoxNews.com posted an article that incorporates quotes from the Fish and Wildlife statement. Headline?
The article opens with a hair-raising lead that still hints at sovereignty over the closed land having somehow been given back to Mexico:
Four years after federal officials quietly surrendered thousands of acres of America's border to Mexican drug gangs and illegals, there still are "no plans to reopen" the taxpayer-owned national park lands.
"Surrendered" to "Mexican drug gangs and illegals." Yikes!
In the fifth paragraph, the article does get around to mentioning the line from the Fish and Wildlife statement about violence in the closed area having declined significantly since 2006, which makes it all the more puzzling that the headline refers to "violence escalat[ing]." (As we've documented, reporting on violence in the border region has borne little resemblance to reality.)
It's worth noting that USA Today's On Deadline blog picked up the June 16 report from FoxNews.com. Based on the post's URL, USA Today's headline originally said something like "Report: Land near Mexico border closed off due to violence."
The post has since been updated, and the headline is now "Feds say media report of land closed near Mexico border due to violence is erroneous." The top of the post reads:
Update and correction: Yesterday, we posted an item from Fox News website that said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reporting that 3,500 acres in southern Arizona have been closed off to U.S. citizens because of increased violence along the U.S.-Mexican border. The service says today that that report is based on inaccurate information.
That paragraph is followed by an excerpt from the Fish and Wildlife statement, and the original posting is included below it. On Deadline even put up a new post on June 17 that acknowledges the error and also includes the excerpt from the Fish and Wildlife statement.
You see, that's how a news outlet with some degree of integrity reacts in this situation. Fox, on the other hand, reacted by doubling down with another misleading article.
Meanwhile, in that alternate universe called Fox Nation, President Obama was still giving "Back Major Strip of AZ to Mexico":