“So You Write Propaganda, Right?”: Journalist Files Complaint Against Customs and Border Protection

Customs and Border Protection Shoulder Patch

There has been a disturbing trend of complaints from journalists who allege that they were harassed entering the country by CBP officers about their coverage of President Donald Trump and related issues. The latest complaint is particularly egregious if true. Journalist Ben Wilson says that he was forced to admit that he “writes propaganda” to gain entry back into the country. The encounter, which is presumably on tape, is chilling in its lack of professionalism and abuse.

Watson was going through routine entry when the officer allegedly asked what he does and, when he said he was a journalist, he asked “So you write propaganda, right?”

Watson answered “no” but the officer would not approve entry and kept asking the same question over and over. Finally, Watson decided that he could not leave his wife waiting any longer and said “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.”

You can read about the encounter here.

Many of us have been highly critical of President Trump for his attacks on the media, including calling them the “enemy of the people.” In addition, CBP officers have voiced their frustration with coverage of the border, which often portrays them in a highly negative light.

This is an extremely serious matter and CBP needs to be transparent about the status of this investigation.

111 thoughts on ““So You Write Propaganda, Right?”: Journalist Files Complaint Against Customs and Border Protection”

  1. The real reason that the media and puke liberals hate Trump so much is that HE CAN’T BE BOUGHT OFF!
    Look at how many congressional members arrived poor then leave as multi-millionaires. Do you really think that financial gain is just off of their congressional pay? Oh, are you dumb! Or perhaps you think we all are dumb!


    Trump does not need to steal money from the US tax payer, he made his the hard way. He earned it!

  2. Dear Moderator: I actually think that I am tired with your editorial comments. Mr. JT’s blog site used to have a balanced approach, but, and I detect that you are a new moderator or editor, (or whatever you happen to call yourself), and I think that having to respond to your slanted approach is more than we who made this blog site one of the most popular around, care to deal with. So, either regain your balance or “*ss off.

    1. “we who made this blog site one of the most popular around”

      Do tell, Bob.

  3. “Many of us have been highly critical of President Trump for his attacks on the media, including calling them the “enemy of the people.” Actually, he said the “fake news” is the enemy of the people.

    Anyone recall Turley having anything to say about the MSM beating the collusion drum for over two years? And why should any CBP member be upset when Alexandria Ocrazio Cortez accuses them of running concentration camps and the MSM skips merrily along behind her?

    Then we have Democrat members of Congress berating them in front of the television cameras about the overcrowding in detention facilities when Congress is the reason for the overcrowding.

    Just a couple of reasons why Congress and much of the MSM have approval ratings somewhere between herpes and a heart attack.

  4. In line with what Dawn said below, I used to post this blurb about once a week or so. I thought it put things into perspective:

    “Expecting from, or trying to explain to, Democrats- “principles”,or “right vs. wrong”, or “rules”, or “logical consistency”, is like trying to explain to a bad, cheating, folding metal chair-using wrestler why he didn’t win the WWF Belt fairly. He is simply not able to comprehend what you are complaining about. All he knows is, that he won the match and the belt! The fact that his girl friend jumped into the ring when the referee wasn’t looking, and whomped the good wrestler over the head with a folding metal chair, knocking him unconscious- – -well, really what difference at this point does that make??? After all, he won! He has the championship belt! Isn’t that all that matters??? Frankly, he just doesn’t give a hoot about the morality of the whole thing. All he cares about, is getting what he wants. Period.

    BUT- if in the re-match, your girlfriend whomps him upside the head with a folding metal chair while the referee isn’t looking – well that is a whole different story! Because you did it to him. To a Democrat, everything is personal. There are no principles of right or wrong. An action is right if he or she benefits, and wrong in it doesn’t benefit them. It really is that simple.”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. The answer is found in how we address those relationships in our immediate proximity. First you have to have them.
      Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s observation of America in the 1980s holds true today more than ever. “America’s poverty is loneliness”

      In our own relationships, our own family, our own circle of friends and colleagues, we might try to lower the temperature and focus on the search for truth,”


      Catholics can offer calming voice in a time of fiery political debates

      WASHINGTON, D.C. – Catholics – clergy, religious and laypeople in the pews – can utilize the values of their faith to overcome the increasing fiery rhetoric emerging because of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions, several Catholic observers said.

      While watching the caustic animosity that has deepened since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, announced the opening of the inquiry Sept. 24, those contacted by Catholic News Service expressed concern that American society is rapidly losing its sense of unity and that it may take years to repair the fractures.

      The country is more than political wins and losses, said Arturo Chavez, president of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, which prepares people for various types of ministry.

      “I’ve been just saying (to students) repeatedly that being Catholic is a much bigger commitment and view of the world and of our neighbor than a political party,” Chavez said. “Especially here in the United States, we’re led to believe that there are only two options. As we continue to escalate the rhetoric, those two choices become more and more extreme.”

      “What I keep telling people is that we have to look at the bigger call that we have as followers of Christ,” he said.

      That call from the Church – not necessarily the institution as a whole or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, but individuals working in their circles of family and community – can play an important role in preserving civility, said Jesuit Father Joe Mueller, associate professor of theology and rector of the Jesuit community at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

      He stressed that the United States is a not a “winner-take-all” nation.

      “We need to recall things like we need to know the truth, we need to pursue justice if there’s been a wrong and to be prudent about it,” Mueller said. “We can say that no matter what state of information we have ourselves, we can recall that we are all citizens of this country and we don’t always agree. That doesn’t call into question someone else’s beliefs. We have a civic unity.”

      “We are all under the same style of representative government. This is something we can all get behind. If the Constitution doesn’t stand for truth and justice, we’ve got a real problem,” he added.

      Recognizing the important role individuals play in a democracy calls for the Church to “remind us that government should be about the common good and not just about political combat,” said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and Georgetown University.

      He lamented that the events of recent weeks are continuing the “dysfunction and demoralization of Washington” under which the search for truth becomes secondary to winning.

      Carr, onetime director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, told CNS that Catholics can begin to bridge the divides in their daily life.

      “In our own relationships, our own family, our own circle of friends and colleagues, we might try to lower the temperature and focus on the search for truth,” he said.

      “The Catholic community is one of the few major institutions in American life that brings people together across partisan, ideology, racial and ethical lines and in times of great division. That in itself is a good thing,” he said.

      Such sentiments were echoed by Jim Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

      Ennis noted how farmers are particularly independent, but also realize they rely on interdependence for their livelihood. That interdependence has helped the Catholic Church convene rural communities from California’s Central Valley to the Midwest to address various concerns and, Ennis said, such examples can serve the rest of the country to calm the “anger and angst.”

      With the Church’s efforts rooted in Catholic social teaching and its seven principles that promote human dignity, the foundation for civil conversation that leads to understanding can be built, he said.

      Those principles are: life and dignity of the human person; call to family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities; option for the poor and vulnerable; dignity of work and the rights of workers; solidarity; and care for God’s creation.

      “A lot of people, especially in Washington, D.C., where it’s needed, come in with their fists up,” Ennis told CNS. “People come in to defend themselves and attack. We can come in there to defuse this situation.”

      One observer, however, was more pessimistic about the Church’s role and said it may be individual Catholics who can soothe hateful feelings in politics.

      Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, called for Catholics to “each in our own little world work toward a greater understanding and a greater tolerance.”

      She expressed concern that Catholics, like others, are more widely influenced by national developments rather than the Gospel or the words of clergy. That has led to polarization in the Church that parallels the political chasms in U.S. society, Cummings explained.

      What’s her best advice for these times? “Prayer,” she said.

      Indeed, prayer has helped people find the truth in their lives, Carr said, adding that he thought more people are praying more intensely at Mass and privately for a solution to the nation’s cavernous political divides.

      It would be important for all of us to hope that we find the truth, whether that benefits our preferred political party or not,” Carr said. “Maybe our church and our faith can remind us there are some important principles at stake here beyond who wins and loses.”

      “The search for both truth and peace are not in contradiction, at least in our world,” he added.

      Chavez at the school in Texas said he found it interesting that the inquiry started as the Church approached its celebration of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi Oct. 4. The saint, who focused on increasing the presence of Jesus in his life and treating all life with dignity, offers an example for Catholics to follow, he said.

      “He strove for the third way. That’s what Catholics, as individuals and institutionally, should be striving for.”

  5. People regularly have difficulty with TSA, as well.

    This incident should be investigated. The claim raises many questions. For instance, since he identified himself as a journalist, the incident would obviously be publicized. So why would a CBP officer refuse to allow entry to a journalist, in public, with witnesses, when he knew it would be widely publicized? It is possible that someone can just lose their self preservation instincts, or let their temper get the better of them.

    If an officer acts egregiously, the journalist would have known how to contact his commanding officer. In fact, if he was in a hurry, he could have done so while walking to meet his wife. Or he could have asked his wife to go park. Justice clearly mattered, if he filed a complaint. So why not do something easy, like a phone call, in the moment?

    I also took issue with the statement that he knew it was not a joke from his eye contact or tone. That bit would be difficult to prove. But, in a public airport, there would be witnesses, who can prove they were there based on video evidence. If this occurred, then others saw it, and can testify if, and how many times, the question was asked.

    This is a troubling incident, for sure. On the one hand, journalists have lost their reputation for integrity, so I no longer take this story at face value. It must be verified. For another, journalist have behaved like Democrat Propaganda sources, attacking and vilifying those from Trump, his administration, voters, to law enforcement, ICE, and BP. ICE and BP has been compared with Nazis, child abusers, racists, etc. Law enforcement have been called racists, police state, and murderers. The harassment has been so bad, that we have seen videos of officers getting buckets of water and bottles thrown on them while making an arrest.

    So it is entirely possible that someone working re-entry took great issue with all the slander. We will have to wait for an investigation to see what unfolds.

  6. Horse dung! Call it horse dung! What kind of people call it horse dung?
    I do. You do. We all know its poop.
    Journalist, communist, even kids with chicken pox like horse dung.
    They like horse dung.
    The dung, kids… like…. to… BITE!

  7. His wife had already circled the airport for 20 minutes. He figured he could get stuck for hours if he tried to call in the officer’s supervisor. So he gave in.

    Oh no, what a tortuous decision for this effing coward! 1st amendment…wife; wife…1st amendment. He was so concerned about how this alleged abuse was trampling his 1st amendment right and how the future of press freedom is allegedly in jeopardy under the President Trump, that he allegedly abandoned his rights knowing he would follow the growing journalism practice of writing opinion as truth, facts be damned.

    I can believe the CBP officer made the comment once, likely as a joke, and the journalist proceeded on his way. I can believe the journalist complained about the slowness of the custom’s process, insulting this officer and others. I can believe this journalist made his credentials known to expedite this process because he was going to get an earful from his wife for making her wait. I cannot however believe a real journalist would so easily abandon an actual news story, his press freedom and his 1st amendment right, merely on the basis of his wife doing laps out front of the terminal. And I believe that way because the damage to their industry’s reputation is nearly all self-inflicted and they are doing nothing to improve their own malpractice.

    1. Olly, you are missing a point. People, not just journalists, are detained at the border and have their phones and laptops taken. If you say no to this, you are going to be stuck in customs a very long time and your stuff is still going to be taken and downloaded. it’s pretty much a law-free zone.

      Many people choose to hand over their devices instead of getting locked up, especially since it’s very difficult to fight that situation as it happens.

      It is authoritarian to call the person who decides they would like to get home a coward. Patriots, real ones, say-no you may not break the law and they stand up for the rights of others.

      I know you are right wing so perhaps you could listen to Jesse Ventura on this? He doesn’t agree with you that it’s o.k. to abuse our rights because we are at the border.

      1. Jill, what BS.
        I cross the southern border at least 2 dozen times per year (for over 11 years now) and NOT ONCE have I had anything taken from me. What BS are you spreading around anyway?
        I speak from personal experience which is more than probably anyone else on this blog. I get hassled more going into Mexico than ever going back to the US. And I believe in Truth over Fact, LOL – stupid Biden.

        1. Actually I was detained once at the US Mexican Border, Tijuana. It was interesting and I cooperated. After 45 mins I was allowed reentry. Im Latino and my last name is very common in my ethnicity. They had me confused with someone else on their computer lists.

          I was also profiled once in Milan, Italy airport before boarding a plane to return to USA. Im dark and at the time they were screening for possible plane terrorists since it was en vogue. I cooperated and made it fine

          So yes it happens but the wise thing to do is cooperate.

          Life is unfair. We all are instruments of injustice and hypocrisy. When it happens to you, think about the times you were the one causing the damage, vow to do better and move on

  8. “The Media” is a very insular society. They go to very good schools and have entered a profession that no longer pays that well. Often they come from fairly privileged backgrounds. I’m never surprised to see an Ivy or minor Ivy on their profile. As such they often write one sided articles that paint people like the CBP in a very bad, almost inhuman, light. To get into the US you first have to pass those gatekeepers, I’ve seen them do the same with human rights attorneys. This comes as a surprise to my fellow liberals but it often is to one’s advantage to be polite and nice to law enforcement, especially when all the power is in their hands.

  9. I am a journalist, mind you, a Trump supporting journalist and also a Canadian so I have not dealt with this problem when coming into the United States. Regardless of that, I suspect this is a one off and not a systemic problem with the organization. Of course, the media will make as big deal out of this as possible, seeking revenge against the president they hate anyway.
    The problem is, the media has been derelict in doing it’s job. As someone else here said, it can be a little embarrassing to admit you’re a journalist these days.

  10. There should be a Not All Journalist movement. Actually, no, there shouldn’t. That would be pathetic. But I’m a journalist and now, after 25 years in the business, I’m not so proud to admit it. I cover crime, mostly, and write columns about everything BUT politics. I’m as disgusted as anyone about what has become of the profession.

    1. Maineuh,
      Actually, there should be a journalist movement as around the world, those journalists who expose corruption of the powerful are being spied on in many cases, taken out. I linked to this video below but I will put it here. I truly think people do not understand there is an attempt to end investigative reporting through all means possible up to an including ending the lives of journalists.



      CBP has been shown to be one of the worst violators of our Constitution and human rights of any US agency. There are some agencies that are worse, but not that many.

      What happens to you is not the same thing as looking at actual analysis of what is happening to the vast majority of people. Everyone likes a personal anecdote but those don’t translate into substitutes for actual analysis. This was wrong and it should be investigated as should all violations of citizen/human rights.

  11. Darren’s article gives readers hope that some affiliated with this blog are somewhat connected to Earth. Turley doesn’t appear to have any contact with real life and real people. Like Bill Kristol acting like a slot machine junkie in Reno on Twitter, per Carlson Tucker, Turley’s inane articles confirm so much of what we think about academia – detached from real people and real problems. Turley regurgitates mindless “news” articles, e.g. hunters and their trophies, Trump passing gas, the toxicity of Congress, the apoplexy of “journalists”, etc without any regard in how he reflects perfectly the entropy we see in America. Pot. Kettle.

    You give Maria Callas a run for her diva persona

  12. Dawn is correct. “law” enforcement has become LAWfare/police state actions against the people.

    If you ask me as a private citizen does the NYTimes or CNN or Fox write/televise propaganda, I am going to say, yes, without a doubt they do. The MSM and many in the so called alternative media are state arms of propaganda. However, in this case, while a citizen is trying to enter the country, this is irrelevant. CBP should not be telling a citizen to say that as a condition of entering the US. It is unequal treatment before the law.

    Trump supporters should not defend this police state action. We need to stand true to the rights of our fellow citizens, regardless if we know for certain they are bloodsucking propagandists of the IC! We have to stand up for our rights and we cannot do this by sacrificing the rights of people we hate. Either we have integrity and protect everyone’s rights or we are all going down, (and so far it looks like we are all going down).

    I ran across a very interesting video on the use of electronic spying against all our citizens, spying which is engage in by this and other state actors. I’m linking it here because I truly believe people don’t understand what is really going on in the US and how badly our rights are being shredded. It really is time for: united we stand:


  13. Uh . . . where have you been, Jon? This particular person may not fall under that umbrella, but were I them I would more appropriately direct my ire at my ‘colleagues’ who are very rightly criticized for exactly what was said. I understand your defense of the rights of the press; I do not understand your blindness to their behavior.

  14. This attempt to cast this incident as Trump’s fault is typical of the current hysteria.

    CBP is an unpleasant outfit with few curbs on their boorish behavior. Just Google for stories on CBP and you will see that they are equal opportunity offenders.

    The fault lies with Congress who made the border a Bill of Rights free zone.

    And with the judiciary who reinforce the power of CBP.

  15. Liberals are always astonished to find there are consequences to their actions.
    The Goebbelist in the media run 24/7 attacks and lies on Trump and his supporters with the intention of ginning up violence against them and causing them harm. The media has demanded they be stripped of their Constitutional Rights, Kristallnachted, banned from society and even murdered. The media incite and educate how to brownshirt the American Citizen whose only “crime” is exercising their Constitutional and Civil Rights.
    They recite litany after litany of reasons to justify targeting them and making every effort to destroy their lives. They glorify the actions of people who terrorize them and their families, they demand that they lose their means of support, and have labeled them as a danger to this country that must be eradicated by any means possible. They have created an atmosphere where going into a fast food restaurant with a hat on, ordering a drink and sitting down to drink it can get the hat wearer threatened, assaulted and robbed or even killed. The media constantly broadcasts known lies, falsehoods, slander, promote hatred, calls for violence and constantly fill airtime with the message The United States must be destroyed and replaced with a death cult political system that is responsible for the murder of more than 100 million lives and the ones who objects must be eliminated from society. Journalists have abdicated their duty as the Fourth Estate. By their actions they gave self identified as malicious propagandizing essayists out to get anyone who does not follow orders and surrender to the cause of facist tyrrany. The 2% who don’t, are deafeningly silent.
    They have enjoyed their unfettered abuse of their power for so long that not only are they shocked to find pushback is starting to appear, they go into full hysterical meltdown when challenged, paint themselves as absolutely innocent victims of unimaginable horrors and blame the ones they have spent years trying to villify and socially exterminate for not accepting their attempts to harm them anymore.
    Whether he is a propagandist or not, now this reporter has insight into what it is like to be a Trump supporter every single day in the United States of America. Maybe he can do a piece on what that feels like.

      1. You still don’t get it.
        None of this is about stopping Trump.
        It’s about stopping American Citizens from feeling free to exercise their Constitutional Rights and Protections by terrorizing them and instilling fear of what happens when they do.

    1. Dawn, I agree with much of what you say. However, I think you still firmly believe in the two party system. Trump and the Republicans need to be called out as much as Clinton/Obama supporters. They are all creatures of the IC. They are playing divide and conquer. They way to see this is to see how they all vote exactly the same when it comes to issues which help the oligarchy.

      The Congress and the President passed a law, FASBI56 (see Catherine Austin Fitz) which allows your govt. to lie to you about its budget. Now that doesn’t benefit you as a citizen but it does benefit the powerful. If something helps a bank or a war contractor, check the votes. That legislation is as bi-partisan as it gets! Neither Trump nor Democrats care about the people of the US and we need to see through them all, fast.

      So I’m just saying, call out the “liberals”, they have it coming but don’t forget the “conservative” because they have it coming as well.

      1. “They way to see this is to see how they all vote exactly the same when it comes to issues which help the oligarchy”

        Like the hogwash on China entering the WTO.

        “”The House of Representatives has taken an historic step toward continued prosperity in America, reform in China and peace in the world,” Mr. Clinton said in a Rose Garden ceremony.”

        “A coalition of labor unions, religious groups, environmentalists and veterans waged a furious campaign to deny Beijing this trade plum, arguing that it wrongly rewarded a Communist government that threatens its neighbors, represses its citizens and thumbs its nose at the rule of law. Unions have also voiced fears that passage would encourage American companies to move high-paying industrial jobs to China.”

        Gee, who was right on this issue? Clinton or those voices of warning and dissent?

        A highlight of Clinton’s legacy (with plenty of Republican support). This article is a blast from the past, having been written in 2000.


  16. Trump may be getting ideas from Xi Jinping

    ‘We’re Almost Extinct’: China’s Investigative Journalists Are Silenced Under Xi

    BEIJING — She was once one of China’s most feared journalists, roaming the country uncovering stories about police brutality, wrongful convictions and environmental disasters. But these days, Zhang Wenmin struggles to be heard.

    Chinese officials are especially aggressive when foreign journalists uncover sensitive issues. For example, China blocked new visas for reporters from The New York Times and Bloomberg News, after both organizations ran stories on the wealth of family members of Chinese leaders.

    China also rejected a visa request earlier this year for an American journalist who has investigated the Chinese government’s political influence operations overseas.

  17. This is an extremely serious matter and CBP needs to be transparent about the status of this investigation.

    It’s actually a twee matter regarding a member an occupational segment which excels any other in the combination of pretension and dishonesty. It irks you because you’re a lawyer and an academic, two occupations which place and show in the realm of combining pretension and dishonesty. If you did something more respectable like sell used cars, this would bother you less.

  18. If this is true and I suspect that is is, it’s not really a surprise. The tone, if not the orders, coming from the very top is that any one who criticizes our dear leader must be intimidated and punished.

    1. Oh puhleeze! Yes, our media are censored and no stories adverse to Trump can be published or aired! What a load of horsedung!

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