How the AP Slanted Border Coverage to Hide the Crisis


Typically, news organizations rush to cover crises, real or perceived. The Associated Press has taken a different tack, using its influential style guide to play down the human drama unfolding at the southern border.

While internal Customs and Border Protection documents repeatedly refer to an immigration “surge” at the border, according to records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon, the AP recommends journalists no longer use such descriptions to avoid offense and maintain supposed “neutrality.” Other documents, circulated internally throughout Customs and Border Protection in May, instruct officials on processing “the surge of undocumented individuals as efficiently as possible.”

The move by AP, a response to left-wing activists who demanded gentler language from reporters when covering immigration, fundamentally changed how newsrooms across the country covered the Biden administration’s response to a historical influx of migrants in the president’s first 100 days in office. A range of outlets, from local newspapers to national publications like the Washington Post, look to the AP for language guidance.

The AP pressed news outlets in March to “avoid imagery conjuring war or natural disaster, which could portray migrants as a negative, harmful influence. Avoid emotive words like onslaught, tidal wave, flood, inundation, surge, invasion, army, march, sneak, and stealth.” But Customs and Border Protection officials told the Free Beacon that they hold weekly meetings they call “surge meetings” to discuss ways to process the thousands of migrants flooding into the country.

The use of the word “surge” in immigration-related stories was commonplace across a multitude of publications, including the AP itself, in the early days of the border crisis but drew criticism from activists as the Biden administration sought to dispel the idea that it is grappling with a full-blown crisis. America’s largest wire service—and the standard-bearer for journalistic style through the AP Stylebook—bowed to the pressure campaign.  – READ MORE

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