Preparing to go live Thursday, just steps from the US-Mexico border, Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones released a seemingly innocuous tweet announcing his upcoming news report — only to be met with a massive establishment media dogpile.
— Lawrence Jones III (@LawrenceBJones3) April 4, 2019
It was the presence of a government-issue, plate-carrier bullet proof vest on Jones’ person which brought on an immediate, vitriolic response from numerous media personalities — and even a few policymakers.
Critics took to Twitter all day Thursday, tweeting directly at Jones to poke fun and accuse him, and the Fox News producers, of attempting to drum up fear of Mexican immigrants in the viewing audience.
Jones hit back hard Thursday evening in an appearance on Hannity, however, explaining to his growing number of critics that the vest had not been his choice, but a request from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer with whom he was doing his ride along in Laredo, Texas.
“The Border Patrol agents standing here to keep us safe told me to put it on to keep us safe here,” Jones told Sean Hannity, “They didn’t just tell me there was a crisis here at the border, they actually showed me.”
“What people don’t understand is that we control this side of the border, but the cartel controls the other side of the border. There’s been gunfights. I’m going in danger with these Border Patrol agents to report on this story. The public doesn’t know that over the last two and a half years, there has been an uptick, over 200 percent, of violence against these agents,” Jones said.
In the hours leading up to his Hannity appearance, Jones’ critics had been relentless, taking to Twitter with photoshopped versions of his original tweet and countless jokes being made at his expense.
Some mocked the size of the vest, claiming it looked childish on him. Meanwhile, other reporters claimed that Jones was in no real danger as they had covered nearby border locations without similar equipment in the past.
— Dusty Giebel (@DustinGiebel) April 4, 2019
— Dafne Peña (@DafneHDSM) April 4, 2019
Dude. Why are you wearing a bulletproof vest. YOU ARE NOT IN A WAR ZONE. Here I am reporting from the border recently WITHOUT a bulletproof vest, but WITH a coat of fabulous hairspray! pic.twitter.com/ftmBzjTBVT
— Lisa Guerrero ?? (@4lisaguerrero) April 4, 2019
One mocking response even came from freshman Rep. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez of New York.
Ocasio-Cortez joked that Jones’ vest looked like it came from Party City, accusing Fox News of “doing the most on a budget to make the border look more dangerous than it is.”
Does “live from the border” mean Party City?
Fox is really out here doing the most on a budget to make the border look more dangerous than it is ?
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 5, 2019
The onslaught was not, however, specific to Twitter.
“Wearing a tactical green plate carrier and a stern look, Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones looked more ready for eastern Syria than the southern U.S. border.” This quote was the opening line of an “Analysis” article written by Alex Horton of The Washington Post, published early Friday morning.
Other outlets followed suit, reporting on Jones’ time at the border as a stunt and claiming that the section of the border he had visited was not truly dangerous.
Jones expressed frustration in regard to the media circus surrounding his tweet as he finished up with Hannity on Thursday night, displeased with the fact that the event would undoubtedly detract from the point his initial report would have served to make — that Border Patrol officers currently face numerous administrative roadblocks and physical threats in their defense of the southern border.
“If they get in a gunfight or anything, they’re by themselves,” Jones said. “They could lose their life as a result of that. This is why we need the border wall system. Not only the wall, but funding for the technology as well as more boots on the ground to help these guys.”
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