August 15, 2022

Trump’s Border Patrol just harassed a reporter for reporting on Trump’s Russia connections

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The consequences of President Trump’s assault on the credibility of the media became painfully apparent to David Mack — the deputy breaking news director for BuzzFeed News — when the Australian-born reporter arrived at passport control at JFK Airport in New York City on Sunday.


Seemingly inspired by the president’s constant histrionic and unwarranted tweets that accuse the media of publishing “fake news” simply because the truthful stories they write do not reflect well on Trump, an immigration agent began aggressively questioning Mack after discovering that he was employed by BuzzFeed.

The BuzzFeed News reporter was returning to the US after a trip outside the country to renew his work visa and was at the mercy of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent to gain re-entry and get back to work.

After being called from the line of non-citizens at passport control to have his papers checked, Mack found himself subject to an intense series of questions from the agent controlling his fate about BuzzFeed News’ coverage of the Trump-Russia investigation, including its controversial report that Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen had testified that he was directed by the president to lie to Congress.

The Buzzfeed reporter recounted the incident after the fact in a series of posts to his Twitter feed.

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After Mack posted his story on social media where it garnered sufficient attention to be seen by top CBP officials in Washington who immediately apologized for the overtly political questioning by the agent.

“On behalf of the agency, I would like to extend our apologies to Mr. David Mack for the inappropriate remarks made to him during his CBP processing upon his arrival to the United States,” CBP Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Andrew Meehan said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The officer’s comments do not reflect CBP’s commitment to integrity and professionalism of its workforce. In response to this incident, CBP immediately reviewed the event and has initiated the appropriate personnel inquiry and action.”

Mack accepted the apology from the CBP in a reply to his original Twitter thread.

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BuzzFeed management weighed in on the incident as well, issuing this statement through a spokesperson:

“We appreciate the government’s prompt response and apology for this unfortunate incident,” BuzzFeed News spokesperson Matt Mittenthal said. “Customs agents do not get to weaponize their political opinions against residents legally entering the United States.”

If something like this can happen at passport control to a white English-speaking male journalist with a valid work visa, one can only imagine how dark-skinned foreigners of any gender with limited English language skills would fare.

While the apology from the CBP shows that there is still a veneer of professionalism and public service with at least some employees at the immigration agency, the fact that the incident took place at all is a testament to how far social and legal norms have devolved during the Trump presidency. With all the attention the NRA has brought to the supposed threats facing Americans’ Second Amendment rights, it seems that our First Amendment rights are actually under a much greater threat from our own president.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter

Original reporting by Ellie Hall at BuzzFeed News.

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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