Maddow breaks down on-air over plight of immigrant babies

June 21, 2018

MSNBC’s star moderator Rachel Maddow dissolved in tears at the end of her show on June 19 when trying to read breaking news from the Associated Press about the whereabouts of babies separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border under President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. She handed the program off to Lawrence O’Donnell, host of The Last Word, who was on-site at a Border Patrol Processing Center for children in McAllen, Texas, Mediaite reports.

The AP story read, in part:

Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned.

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley [Texas] shelters described playrooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.

Since the White House announced its zero tolerance policy in early May, more than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in a new influx of young children requiring government care. The government has faced withering critiques over images of some of the children in cages inside U.S. Border Patrol processing stations.

When Maddow could not read the script, she asked for a graphic to be shown on the screen instead. When that was unavailable, she said, tears flowing, “I think I’m going to have to hand this off. I’m sorry.”

O’Donnell did succeed in reading the full story on-air.

Later, Maddow apologized on Twitter:  “Ugh, I’m sorry. If nothing else, it is my job to actually be able to speak while I’m on TV,” she wrote. Then, after concluding what she was trying to say, she added: “Again, I apologize for losing it there for a moment. Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile.”

Since the White House announced its zero tolerance policy in early May, AP notes, more than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in an influx of young children requiring government care.

Research contact: @garanceburke

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