In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, President Donald Trump, his Republican allies, and Fox News teamed up to fearmonger about a caravan of people traveling from Central America toward America’s southern border — not stopping even after a gunman motivated by an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about it opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, killing 11 people.
The caravan received heavy coverage on Fox & Friends, where it was portrayed as “an invasion” that Democrats weren’t doing enough to stop. According to transcripts, the caravan was mentioned 19 times on Friday’s edition of the show, 10 times on Monday, and nine times on Tuesday. Fox News has even embedded a reporter with the caravan to provide updates about its progress.
Yet on Wednesday’s edition of Fox & Friends, it was mentioned just once in passing.
“Many in the media laughed as well when the president framed [the midterms] as about [Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh, the caravan,” host Ed Henry said at one point — the only time the caravan was mentioned on the entire show.
The White House didn’t try to conceal the cynical political motivations at work. For instance, days before the Pittsburgh shooting, an unnamed senior Trump administration official told the Daily Beast that “it doesn’t matter” if the fear-mongering campaign surrounding the caravan is “100 percent accurate” — the important thing is that “this is the play” to motivate Republicans to vote.
Trump urged people to blame Democrats for the caravan.
Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
If the caravan really was the national security threat that Trump and Fox News portrayed it to be, there would no reason to deprioritize coverage even after midterm elections.
Still, though Fox laid off caravan coverage on Wednesday, it may return in the days to come. On Tuesday, Vox’s Dara Lind reported that “[a]s soon as this week, the Trump administration is expected to issue a new asylum policy — ostensibly in response to the migrant ‘caravan’ — that could have the effect of barring people who enter the US between ports of entry from asylum.”
But for now, with the caravan still more than 1,700 miles from the US border, the story has receded from Fox News just as fast as the midterm elections came and went.