One of the more controversial views in the border separations saga was voiced by conservative pundit Ann Coulter, who argued on Fox News that kids seen crying on TV are "child actors." In response, the author of an article she cited to back up her theory says she's completely off base to draw that conclusion from it. Coulter, however, isn't backing down, suggesting Tuesday that even newly surfaced audiotapes of kids crying at detention facilities were orchestrated. The details:
- How it started: As Newsweek recounts, Coulter generated headlines with her theory during a Sunday appearance on The Next Revolution With Steve Hilton. "These child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now—do not fall for it, Mr. President," Coulter said. She cited a magazine article to buttress her claim, adding: "These kids are being coached. They're given scripts to read by liberals, according to the New Yorker. Don't fall for the actor children."
- The magazine article: Pressed later for details, Coulter tweeted a link to a 2011 story in the New Yorker by Suketu Mehta that tells the tale of an African woman seeking asylum in the US, reports BuzzFeed. In the article, the woman is encouraged to lie about being raped to help her case, and Mehta says he was trying to illustrate a "broken asylum system that demands a certain kind of narrative."
- Author fires back: Mehta tells BuzzFeed he is incredulous that Coulter would use his story to buttress her case. "She clearly hasn't read my New Yorker article," he said, noting that his piece "has no child actors, no liberals toting scripts to be read by child actors." He adds: "Either she lied or she's truly illiterate."
- 2 tweets: In a tweet, Coulter responded to a critic accusing her of venturing into "Alex Jones territory": "If you had 3 functioning brain cells ... you'd be able to find 1 article on how phony aslyum cases are," she wrote, linking to Mehta's story. Mehta took notice, tweeting: "If you had 3 functioning brain cells, you wouldn't be mentioning my New Yorker article about asylum to support your racist positions."
- Doubling down: In a quick interview with TMZ, Coulter reiterated that this is all a "political stunt," and she cast suspicion on the audiotapes of children crying for their parents. "They're weird," she says, asserting that the kids are speaking in English and saying "Mommy" and "Daddy." (The AP has them saying, "Mami" and "Papi.") "I think they need to improve their scripts," says Coulter, sarcastically suggesting they be in Spanish next time. As for the notion of children being separated from their parents, she quickly responded, "They're being separated from coyotes and drug mules."
- Hilton stays out: In a statement via a Fox spokesperson, Fox host Hilton says, "I do not endorse her comments or anything else said by anyone other than myself," per the Washington Post.
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