MSNBC, CNN Spread False Impression that Trump Called Immigrants 'Animals'

April 9, 2019

A CNN news anchor and three MSNBC guests spread the false impression on the air that President Donald Trump referred to immigrants as "animals" last week.

The confusion stemmed from an unverified Twitter user identified as Mark Elliott, who tweeted out a short clip of Trump Friday and accused him of referring to asylum seekers by the insulting moniker.

However, the clip was from May 2018, and Trump was responding to a question about the transnational street gang MS-13. Nevertheless, multiple news outlets and politicians ran with the idea he had referred to all immigrants as "animals" last year as well.

Despite the clip being old and well-known in political circles due to its litigation last year, dozens of politicians—including presidential candidates–journalists, and celebrities shared the tweet and expressed outrage over it.

It spilled over onto television, too, with CNN anchor Jim Sciutto asking a Republican guest Monday morning if Trump was helpful on border policy when "referring to immigrants as animals."

Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden said on MSNBC Friday night that "this afternoon" Trump had referred to people coming across the border as "animals." Former Democratic National Committee CEO Jess O'Connell told MSNBC on Saturday, "You saw just this week, he compared immigrants to animals."

Also on Saturday, liberal Daily Beast writer Jonathan Alter referred to Trump's comments "yesterday" as "truly shameful."

"He compared people going to the border to animals," Alter said. "Now anybody who has studied any history knows that when you start calling people animals, when you dehumanize them that way, that's when the killing begins."

Sciutto and MSNBC spokespersons did not respond to Free Beacon requests for comment on whether they would correct the record.

Elliott deleted the viral tweet on Monday and apologized for not being "more accurate."