Sarah Huckabee Sanders has once again been tasked with the impossible: defending Trump's
temper tantrum absurd border wall while millions of people are affected by the government shutdown caused by his temper tantrum insistence on the border wall. And once again, she has outdone herself.
But on Sunday, while interviewing Sanders, Fox' Chris Wallace didn't let her get away with lying and claiming that terrorists pour into the US over the Mexican border in droves. And when Fox News fact-checks you and calls you out on a lie...you know you're in trouble.
"We know that roughly, nearly, 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our Southern border," she told Wallace. It was the perfect example of pulling the wool over Fox News' watchers' eyes, hoping they won't notice that your facts don't exactly check out.
Wallace pointed out that the 4,000 people she was referring to had been captured mainly in airports, and that the State Department has said there is "no credible evidence" of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico in recent years. The data Sanders cited comes from a Department of Homeland Security report detailing how 3,775 known or suspected terrorists were prevented from "traveling to or entering the United States" in 2017 because their names matched those on a terrorist watchlist. Most of them were apprehended in airports. That's not the same as pouring over the Southern border.
Department of Justice records and counterterrorism officials confirmed that in recent years, no person — that's zero — has been arrested on terrorism charges at the US-Mexico border. In the first half of 2018, only six immigrants whose names were on a federal list of known or suspected terrorists were stopped at the border. And, apprehensions at the border have plummeted from over 1.6 million in 2000 to around 300,000 in 2017.
But the White House has been using the fear-mongering strategy of equating immigrants with terrorists to scare people into supporting the wall, which has at least partially worked.
To Wallace's challenge, Sanders responded, "Not always, but certainly a large number [of potential terrorists are stopped at airports]. ... It's by air, it's by land, and it's by sea. It's all of the above." Then she repeated the "most vulnerable point" statement. Definitely sounds like someone who's done her homework.
Of course Sanders tried to talk herself out of her lie — she does that on behalf of her boss on a regular basis. But it's how she did it this time that was really interesting, according to Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma.
"What is startling to me, as I have been reading her nonverbal behaviour for quite a long time now, is that after she says 'not always' and knows she is truly caught lying around second 37 [of the video], she looks like a sad little girl," Wood told Refinery29. "Truly surprising. First she purses her lips to Chris Wallace, I believe because she can’t believe he did this and she is trying to hold in that surprise. Then her face collapses with a downward turn of the lips and asymmetrical, turned-down eyebrows. You can see she wanted in that moment to cry. But she recovers very quickly, repeating the statement that was just shot down as if it didn’t happen."
Sanders just handed the president's opponents yet another argument against his cruel, dragged-out shutdown: If the goal were truly to make the country safer, start with airports. And considering that TSA agents are being forced to go without pay, so as a result many of them are calling in sick rather than working for free (can't blame them), it doesn't sound like that's a priority.