The New York Times corrected an article from last week which asserted that horseback Border Patrol agents used their reins to “strike at running migrants. The Times‘ correction states the original version of the article “overstated what is known about the behavior of some Border Patrol agents on horseback.”
The Times White House Correspondent Michael D. Shear wrote an article on September 24 where he reported President Joe Biden’s call for “consequences” for Border Patrol agents’ actions against migrants crossing the border near Del Rio, Texas.
In the original article, Shear wrote:
President Biden vowed Friday that Border Patrol agents who mistreated Haitian migrants crossing the Rio Grande “will pay” after an investigation, calling the scene at the border “horrible to see” in his first comments on actions by his administration that have drawn severe condemnation from many of his own supporters.
“It’s outrageous,” he said. “I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation, underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
The images of agents on horseback chasing, and in some cases using the reins of their horses to strike at running migrants, came as Mr. Biden’s administration moved to forcefully round up and deport more than 2,000 of the 15,000 migrants who gathered in a makeshift camp in Del Rio, Texas. Thousands more have been moved to other parts of the country or have been released with orders to appear in court later.
Since that time, a photographer who shot many of the images now at the center of the controversy told KTSM NBC9 in El Paso he “didn’t ever see them (the agents) whip anybody,” Breitbart Texas reported.
Photographer Paul Ratje said his photos have “really been misconstrued.”
Among those who apparently misconstrued the images is the President of the United States. “To see people treated like they did, horses running them over and people getting strapped, it’s outrageous I promise you those people will pay,” the president said during a press conference on Friday.
AP journalist Sarah Blake Morgan tweeted a video taken from the middle of the Rio Grand showing three horse-mounted Border Patrol agents attempting to block a group of Haitian migrants from entering the U.S. The agents in this video do not appear to have struck any of the migrants with reins.
As the lack of evidence that agents struck, whipped, or strapped migrants with their horses’ reins, the Times published a correction that reads:
An earlier version of this article overstated what is known about the behavior of some Border Patrol agents on horseback. While the agents waved their reins while pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande, The Times has not seen conclusive evidence that migrants were struck with the reins.
Shear’s corrected article, now dual bylined by Katie Rogers, states:
“It’s outrageous,” Mr. Biden said. “I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation, underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.”
Later, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, added that the president was not “prejudging” the outcome of the investigation.
Images of Border Patrol agents on horseback waving their reins while pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande have prompted a torrent of criticism from Democrats and civil rights groups who have accused Mr. Biden of continuing some of the most aggressive approaches to immigration put in place by President Donald J. Trump.
The Times article went from claiming Border Patrol agents were “using the reins of their horses to strike at running migrants” to its current version that says the agents were “waving their reins while pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande.”
The original article also does not appear to provide any of the numerous photographs taken at the scene to provide context for their now debunked claims.