Kids in Cages: A Media Analysis of Fox News Coverage on Family Separation at the Border




Mendoza, Samantha Ali

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In the Spring of 2018, the Trump Administration enforced a zero-tolerance immigration policy which included a provision sanctioning the separation of minors crossing into the U.S. from their parents or guardians accompanying them. Stories and images from inside the detention centers housing the migrant children caused a national outrage and dominated the news cycle. Fox News is a cable news network that has been openly supportive of President Trump and his policies; it is unclear how they discussed the crisis on the border, if at all. This study seeks to understand how Fox News hosts and pundits frame the issue of family separation on the border by utilizing framing theory and a generative rhetorical criticism analysis of transcripts from primetime programming. The findings demonstrated that Fox News hosts contradicted themselves in three ways; by vilifying the opposition for their lack of civility, ignoring inconsistencies in their argument for respectful rhetoric, and their attempts to separate themselves from mainstream media. The findings further demonstrated Fox News hosts present offhand xenophobic comments when discussing family separation and claim that immigrants are more privileged than U.S. citizens.


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Border, Family separation, Fox News, Framing theory, Immigration