How Journalists and Democrats Whipped Up Border Patrol Disinformation

Border Protection chief found 'no evidence' of agent misconduct

A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. / Getty Images
July 8, 2022

U.S. Customs and Border Protection closed an investigation into alleged misconduct at the southern border Friday, officially concluding there was "no evidence any agent struck—intentionally or otherwise—any migrant with their reins."

The announcement brings to an end a yearlong media frenzy, which began in September 2021 when news outlets devoted wall-to-wall coverage to a single photograph they claimed showed Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping Haitian migrants:



Even as the narrative started to unravel, outlets kept pushing. NBC News referred to an "apparent whip," while Axios described agents "reportedly whipping" migrants.

Reporters amplified the claims on Twitter:







Democrats from Congress to the White House repeated the story, too:









Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus addressed the media frenzy in Friday's memo.

"A thorough investigation was done despite comments or criticisms made by anyone in the media," Magnus wrote. "Not everyone will agree with the findings, but the investigation was comprehensive and fair."