Would you like to be a national security expert? Well guess what. You already are. By virtue of having a pulse, you are apparently qualified to render opinions about it on major media outlets. This is the only sensible conclusion to draw when guys like Dick Cheney and Bill Kristol are continuously invited on television to push yet more disastrous neoconservative policies, and when former 9/11 truther and football player Donte Stallworth is hired by the Huffington Post as a National Security Fellow.
On Monday, Fox & Friends continued this trend of know-nothing expertise by giving a platform to Sheriff Gary Painter of Midland County, Texas, to allege that ISIS militants are crossing into the United States from Mexico. Citing anecdotes from nobody in particular, Painter dialed up the fear-mongering to 11 in this exchange with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. (The clip omits a portion of the exchange, which is transcribed below.)
Painter: Well, I was [unintelligible] intelligence report that said that there was ISIS cells that were active in the Juarez area, which is the northern part of Chihuahua state, and that they were moving around over there and that they had--just that there was some activity--and for sheriffs along the border to be on the alert, and for all law enforcement to be on the alert, and to be on the lookout for these people maybe trying to come across.
Hasselbeck: Are you saying that ISIS is ready to come across poised to perhaps execute what they have threatened to do, attacks on the United States, drown us in our own blood? Is that what you’re saying?
Painter: Well, I'm saying the border is wide open.
We have found copies, or people along the border where the trails where these people come across, have found Muslim clothing, they have found Quran books [LOLZ!] that are laying on the side of the road or side of the trail. So we know that there are Muslims have come across and being smuggled in the United States.
What "intelligence report" is Painter referring to? Who knows. Whoever may have issued it -- if it even exists -- clearly didn't read Fox News' own report declaring that there is actually no evidence at all for this claim.
Hasselbeck's follow up question could not have been any more dramatic or fundamentally vapid, for that matter. And despite inviting Painter to reaffirm what he had just said, the sheriff dodged and went from saying ISIS is operating in Mexico to merely saying "the border is wide open" in a span of a few seconds.
By the way, if you're planning a trip to the border, please do watch out for those holy Qurans on the side of the road, which Muslims -- who are renowned for their respect of the book -- revere so much that they're willing to leave them behind to collect dust and rainwater on the ground.
As tempting as it is to single out Fox News for being uniquely awful for giving this man airtime, here's Painter on CNN earlier this month spouting the same bullshit.
There is of course, an element of trollery in all this. Painter is a nobody and has no national security expertise or even facts to back up his assertions. But Fox News and CNN are happy to have him on because his opinion is noteworthy. Not because it's correct, but because it's absolutely frightening.
Even if it's also absolutely false.
Image credit: Fox & Friends screengrab