Steve Doocy was about 30 seconds into Monday’s episode of “Fox & Friends” when he announced a Fox News alert.
“The migrant caravan in Central America is growing,” Doocy said when the alert graphic stopped obscuring his face.
“Seven thousand strong!” said his co-host Ainsley Earhardt.
They cut to live footage of a Texas border city — approximately a 400-hour walk from the caravan’s position in southern Mexico — where a Fox News correspondent was stationed on the ground.
“Is he going to be seeing 5,000 people storm the border soon?” asked Brian Kilmeade, the other co-host.
You might think so, to take a spin through the big conservative news sites.
The caravan was front and center on Breitbart and the Drudge Report on Monday, as it has been often since several hundred people formed it in Honduras around Oct. 12 and started walking north.
Meanwhile, President Trump — “Fox & Friends” watcher-in-chief — just called the caravan a “National Emergy” on Twitter. Trump said the caravan has “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners mixed in,” and the Mexican military can’t stop it, and also that it was organized by Democrats to hurt Republicans in the U.S. midterm elections.
Have not seen a single “Middle Easterner” in the caravan, @realDonaldTrump. Have seen hundreds of women and children and babies, though. https://t.co/skzF0IEGCi— Kate Linthicum (@katelinthicum) October 22, 2018
The Washington Post, CNN, the Associated Press and many other mainstream outlets have covered the migrants' journey with considerably less foreboding, just as they did a smaller caravan that petered out before it reached the U.S. border earlier this year.
Among the 5,000 or so people who crossed the Guatemalan border into southern Mexico this weekend, Kevin Sieff reported for The Post, are a call center worker who grew up in the United States and wants to return; a wood-flooring installer who was deported from Phoenix six months ago and still has a 6-year-old son there; and uncounted families fleeing poverty or organized violence in their home countries.
They travel together for safety as they cross regions controlled by gangs and drug cartels. Most of them hope to seek asylum at the border or — more likely — to try to cross into the United States illegally.
So despite the caravan’s size, it’s no different in purpose than smaller mass migrations that routinely cross Central America.
The last one passed through last spring, drawing its own entourage of reporters and outraged tweets from Trump. It grew to about 1,000 people, which, it turned out, was too large for purposes of logistics, and so the caravan disbanded in Mexico City long before it reached the U.S. border.
It’s unclear how a group at least five times larger — apparently reliant on food and water from passersby — hopes to make it any farther.
That context was not in Monday’s Fox News alert.
Some of it came across later in the episode — perhaps unintentionally — when Doocy brought out a panel of four people identified as independent voters and asked about the caravan.
“It’s north of apparently 7,000 people strong,” Doocy told the first independent voter, Michael Willner. “How big a problem is that, that the United States has uneven immigration laws?”
“I think uneven immigration laws are a problem for any country, and I think our immigration laws need to be modernized and updated,” Willner said.
“But this country is founded on immigration,” he continued. “And all of us come from immigrants.”
Doocy tried again.
“By the time it gets here, it could be 10,000. It could be 20,000,” he said. “What should the United States do?”
“This is the mightiest country on the planet,” Willner replied. “I think we can handle a caravan of people, unarmed, coming to this country.”
“Okay,” Doocy said, pointing to the second independent voter. “Cathy: real quick.”
“I think the immigration crisis we’re seeing is a result of the failure of the two democratic parties to actually engage the issue,” said Cathy Stewart, a vice president with Independent Voting.
“Mm-hmm,” said Doocy.
“Instead, they use it like a partisan football,” she continued.
“Sure,” said Doocy. And, moving on: “John, real quick.”
But John Opdyke continued the previous independent voters' line of thought.
“There’s a humanitarian crisis taking place in Central America, and yet this issue gets turned into a complete political football,” he said. “There’s very little honest discussion about what’s actually happening.”
“And Aaron?” Doocy said. His voice had fallen to something like a raspy whisper.
“Treating this as an ‘invasion’ is a bad idea, and it’s going to end horribly if it is treated such as that way,” said Aaron Commey, a libertarian and the final independent voter on the panel.
Doocy collected his notes and sat up on his stool.
“Sure, but the backdrop is the midterms, so it all becomes political,” he told the voters. “So let’s see what happens!”
And with that, Fox & Friends dispensed with Monday’s migrant news alert and moved on to the subject of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s DNA.
The next episode airs Tuesday morning. Perhaps another Fox News alert will pop up then, too.
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the independent voting organization Cathy Stewart belongs to.