“Dude. Why are you wearing a bulletproof vest?”
After being widely mocked Thursday for wearing a protective vest at the border by New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Fox News correspondent Lawrence Jones III returned fire on Friday.
Jones responded to criticism from the freshman congresswoman by taking a jab at her appearance earlier in the day at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network event.
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“Hey, @AOC I wore the vest because CBP told me to but, what’s your excuse for talking like this?! #WedontTalkLikeThat,” Jones said, referencing Ocasio-Cortez’s accent, which multiple conservative outlets criticized as an attempt to pander to a black audience.
— Lawrence Jones III (@LawrenceBJones3) April 5, 2019
Jones’ report at the border came amid a debate over the severity of the immigration situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. President Donald Trump famously declared a national emergency in February to address what numerous officials from his administration have characterized as a “border crisis.”
An avalanche of mockery ensued after Jones tweeted out a photo of himself prior to a live report from the U.S.-Mexico border early Thursday morning. Much of the ridicule sent Jones’ way accused him of exaggerating the danger of his circumstances.
“Lawrence thinks he’s headed to a war zone,” tweeted former CNN contributor Roland S. Martin. “Dude. Why are you wearing a bulletproof vest?” queried journalist Lisa Guerrero.
Others, including celebrity chef Jose Andres, responded with visuals that mocked the apparent flimsiness of Jones’ vest.
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) April 4, 2019
Eventually, freshman congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez joined the pile-on. “Does ‘live from the border’ mean Party City?” she tweeted. “Fox is really out here doing the most on a budget to make the border look more dangerous than it is.”
Does “live from the border” mean Party City?
Fox is really out here doing the most on a budget to make the border look more dangerous than it is 😂
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 5, 2019
One America News host Jack Posobiec slammed Ocasio-Cortez in response. “Will we get stories about politicians attacking journalists when Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez does it? And keep in mind she’s specifically attacking someone’s safety here Really bad take here,” he tweeted.
Jones later revealed that wearing the vest wasn’t his idea.
Border patrol made me wear it. Now, who's the fool? https://t.co/8ytTDLATth
— Lawrence Jones III (@LawrenceBJones3) April 4, 2019
In a tweeted reply to podcast host Exavier Pope, who asked whether the Fox News correspondent had donned the vest “for optics,” Jones said border patrol required him to put on the tactical gear. “Nuh bruh it’s required by CBP. Anything can happen on a ride along and they would be potentially liable,” he said.
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In another response to critics, Jones once again reiterated that he had been asked to put on the vest. “Did I say it was a war zone or did you ignorantly assume that because I was wearing a vest?” he said. “Bottom line: CBP instructed me to put on one of their vests during my ride along. Period.”
One commenter claimed to have dug into Jones’ vest and said he didn’t think the reporter was “wearing a CBP-issued plate carrier meeting federal guidelines for body armor.”
MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff, meanwhile, was skeptical. “This is totally ridiculous,” he said. “I have never once worn a bulletproof vest at the border, nor has CBP ever asked me to — even while on a chase with Border Patrol to apprehend migrants in remote Arizona desert in the middle of the night.”
“Because. The. Border. Is. Not. A. War. Zone,” Soboroff added.
Last month, a top immigration expert criticized Democrat lawmakers seeking to downplay the severity of the U.S.-Mexico border crisis in a report published by The Washington Post.
Theresa Brown, a former Customs and Border Patrol policy adviser who now works at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said the situation at the border has “completely overwhelmed” the immigration system.
“Yes, we are in a crisis situation at the border — a humanitarian crisis, a refugee crisis,” Brown said. “It’s absolutely, 100 percent true that every part of our border management system is beyond capacity and completely overwhelmed right now.”
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