MSNBC host Willie Geist criticized President Joe Biden’s media blackout at the border during the Wednesday broadcast of “Morning Joe.”
Geist was joined by contributor Yamiche Alcindor and reporter Julia Ainsley in discussing the blackout amid the ongoing migrant crisis. He questioned the Biden administration’s approach to border media coverage and compared it to former President Donald Trump’s, saying, “if it had been the Trump administration we would be rightly outraged.” (RELATED: ‘It Is A Humanitarian Crisis’: CNN’s John Avlon Says Biden ‘Can’t Afford To Ignore’ Border Problem)
Geist began by noting to Alcindor that the administration says “they inherited a terrible situation from Donald Trump,” but that “doesn’t get at the problem today.” He then asked her what the White House is doing about the crisis.
Alcindor said the White House says it is “scrambling to get this under control” and are looking for new facilities to house migrant children. She noted that, even though they say the Trump administration “handed to them” the crisis, it’s “an issue that is now happening on their watch.” She then described reports of bad conditions for children in the facilities and said the media has still not “been allowed in a lot of these facilities,” to do ride alongs with border patrol or to “interact” with the migrant children.
“And Julia, your reporting on that point exactly about access to the media to what exactly is going on right there. What is the Biden administration doing and how are they gagging, according to some sources, border patrol?” Geist asked Ainsley.
“There’s a lot of frustration about access during this critical time. And I started digging around and talking to some border patrol officials who say that they now have to run everything, even local requests, through Washington,” Ainsley answered. “It’s part of a more centralized media strategy … but they’re really frustrated with it now, especially coming from a previous administration where they were emboldened to talk about the really tough law enforcement stance all the time.”
She said the Trump administration “at least” allowed ride alongs with border patrol agents. She then added “there’s been no access” to facilities that are holding the migrant children, and that people who keep track of migrant numbers have been given orders “not to leak” because the administration doesn’t want information getting out before they can “control the message on it.”
“How unusual is that? I mean, if it had been the Trump administration, we’d be rightly outraged that they were blacking out information on a very important story. So does this suggest that they have something to hide at the border?” Geist asked.
Ainsley noted that Biden seems to be going back to “an Obama-era approach where everything is run through Washington.” She added there’s an ongoing “culture war” because “a lot of border agents” are “pro-Trump” and are “starting to just leak out videos anonymously.”
“Right now, yes, it’s very frustrating from a journalist’s perspective. We want access no matter who is in charge, especially when it comes to this vulnerable population of children. We need to know their conditions here. We need to be able to see it first hand. I have toured facilities in the past where children are being held and now we are unable to get any of that access,” she concluded.