Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump visited the U.S. southern border on Thursday to discuss the border crisis and immigration, after a surge of border encounters with unauthorized migrants over the past few months.

To see how left and right media outlets covered the story differently, AllSides looked at a sample of 12 news stories spanning the political spectrum to see how the news media is covering the story differently.


Border Security Bill: Bipartisan, Controversial, or Both?

Both presidents gave speeches in separate cities on the border, with Trump’s being more of an attack on the Biden Administration’s policies at record-high illegal crossings, while Biden argued that he’s ready to take action on a bipartisan border bill deal – if Congress is willing to act on it.

CBS News (Lean Left bias) reported that the bill “was ‘derailed by rank-and-file politics,’ the president said, after Republicans were told, ‘Don't do that because it'll benefit the incumbent.’”

The Associated Press (Lean Left bias) said that “The talks looked promising for a while. But Trump, who didn’t want to give Biden a political win on one of his signature campaign issues, convinced Republicans to kill the deal.” NBC News (Lean Left bias) reported that “Congress [was] failing to act” on the issue.

However, the right had different opinions on the bill. Fox News (Right bias) described the bill as “a controversial, but bipartisan, Senate border agreement.”

The Epoch Times (Lean Right bias) explained that the proposed deal “ties $20 billion in funds for U.S. immigration enforcement to $60.1 billion in aid for Ukraine… The Senate’s border bill has been heavily criticized by Republicans for prioritizing the security of another country—Ukraine—over that of the United States.”

“Mr. Biden, after studiously ignoring the border for most of the past three years, is engaging on familiar ground. He cast himself as the Washington deal-maker seeking bipartisanship,” reported The Washington Times (Lean Right bias).


Trump and Biden Give Starkly Different Speeches at the Border

“Biden sought to spotlight the necessity of a bipartisan border security bill that was tanked by Republicans on Trump’s orders,” according to The Associated Press, “and flat-out asked the Republican front-runner to join him in supporting a congressional push for more funding and tighter restrictions.”

The Epoch Times argued against the sentiment provided by The Associated Press, saying that “[Biden has] held that the United States’ immigration system is ‘broken’ and can be fixed only by new legislation from Congress. Republicans, including the Texas governor, have said that the president has the power to fix the problem himself, he just doesn’t want to.”

The left focused more on Biden’s speech, in which the president said it’s “long past time to act” on the border bill – The Associated Press said that “Trump simply blamed Biden” about the issue.

The right gave more time to Trump’s speech, in which the former president described the border crisis as a “Biden invasion” and a “vicious violation to our country.”

“‘This is like a war,’ Trump said before calling out a wave of high-profile crimes by migrants across America,” reports The New York Post (Lean Right bias).

The Associated Press compared Trump’s comments to “rhetoric once used by Adolf Hitler to argue migrants are poisoning the blood of America.”

RELATED: How Coverage of Immigration Reveals Media Bias


Do Unauthorized Migrants Commit More Crime than U.S. Citizens?

22-year-old Augusta University student Laken Riley was allegedly murdered by an unauthorized Venezuelan migrant on February 22, prompting criticism directed at Biden from the right.

According to The Daily Caller (Right bias), “Trump addressed Riley’s death during his border trip, taking a swipe at Biden for failing to discuss the situation publicly.” Trump continued in speech, saying that “The United States is being overrun by the Biden migrant crime.”

“[President Biden] was questioned about Riley after the conclusion of his remarks, but did not respond as he walked off stage,” reports The New York Post.

On the left, The Washington Post (Lean Left bias) argued that “Experts say most of the evidence suggests that undocumented immigrants do not cause more crime.”

A recent AllSides review of data found that there are conflicting studies on links between illegal immigration and violent crime rates.

CNN (Lean Left bias) contended that Trump used “visceral language” to describe the killing of Riley: “…It was an example of Trump’s crystal-clear – if bellicose and fear-mongering – messaging on the issue that has been a hallmark of his political career.”


Right Emphasizes Border Patrol; Left Highlights Stories of Migrants

AllSides found in our sample of articles that the right more likely quoted border patrol agents in their coverage.

One such person was the Border Patrol Union’s president, Brandon Judd, who joined former President Trump on the trip.

“Border Patrol agents are upset that we cannot get the proper policy that is necessary to protect human life, to protect American citizens, to protect the people that are crossing the border illegally. We want to protect them as well, and we can’t do that because President Biden’s policies continue to invite people across here,” Judd said in a speech reported by The Epoch Times.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press interviewed a Nicaraguan migrant in Mexico – who is hoping to cross the border into the U.S. – employing emotionalism in quoting the migrant, saying, “I come completely alone on this journey, I have been on this journey for about six months and the only important thing I have in my life are my mom, my little sister and nobody else.”


Right Accuses Biden of Visiting City With Little Number of Illegal Crossings

While Trump visited Eagle Pass, Texas, a hotspot for illegal crossings into the United States, Biden visited Brownsville, Texas, which “for nine years was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. The numbers have dropped in recent months, which officials credited in part to Mexico for stepping up its own border security,” according to The Associated Press.

However, outlets on the right accused Biden of taking the easy route. “Brownsville is one of the calmest spots on the border. Agents regularly tally days with single-digit arrests of border jumpers,” said The Washington Times. “Eagle Pass, meanwhile, is one of the epicenters of the chaos, with agents recording hundreds of illegal immigrants a day. It’s also where Texas is most strenuously battling the Biden administration, with miles of razor wire placed along the Rio Grande, a floating border wall in one stretch of the river and National Guard troops occupying a park that the Border Patrol had been using to facilitate catch-and-release.”

With criticism surrounding Biden’s visit, The New York Post reported that “White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to say why the administration chose to go to Brownsville specifically, only saying Biden ‘wanted to show that it was important for him to go down there to hear from Border Patrol agents, to hear from first responders on what’s going on on the ground.’”


Read AllSides to Get the Full Story on Immigration

As can be seen from this sample of stories, outlets on the left and right describe the situation at the U.S. southern border very differently. Reading The Associated Press, you may be more likely to think Trump’s rhetoric at the border was uncalled for. Reading The Epoch Times, you may be left thinking how the bipartisan border deal could have been bipartisan in the first place.

Outlets employ types of media bias such as omission, word choice, and slant to persuade you into agreeing with their stance. When you read AllSides, you get the full story. Visit AllSides’ Balanced News to read stories from across the political spectrum.


How AllSides Did This

AllSides selected 13 outlets across the political spectrum – 7 on the left and 6 on the right – to review, and selected the top-most story on each outlet’s respective homepage about Biden and/or Trump’s visit to the U.S. southern border at 7:30pm ET on Thursday, February 29, 2024.

The word cloud encapsulates the most-used words on each side of the analysis. The word cloud is not meant to describe how all biased media described the story, but only those 13 outlets used in this review.

The outlets reviewed on the left were The Washington Post, Politico, NBC News, ABC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, and CNN. On the right, outlets reviewed were The Epoch Times, New York Post, Washington Examiner, Washington Times, Fox News, and The Daily Caller.


Andrew Weinzierl is AllSides’ Bias Research Manager & Data Journalist. He has a Lean Left bias.
Reviewed by Johnathon Held, AllSides Bias Analyst (Lean Right bias).