As the news broke yesterday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on multiple counts while President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to multiple separate crimes—including campaign finance charges that appear to implicate the president—the digital right-wing media machine went into overdrive to amplify a different story: the killing of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts.
Yesterday morning, it was reported that authorities found a body identified to be Tibbetts and that the suspect charged with Tibbets’ murder is a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico who had been working on a local farm connected to a GOP official. The Washington Post confirmed that the suspect had passed the government’s E-Verify system.
While the news was breaking regarding Manafort and Cohen, right-wing activists and outlets were focused almost exclusively on using the Tibbets tragedy to promote the president’s anti-immigration agenda.
At Fox News, as The Washington Post’s Hamza Shaban pointed out, coverage of Tibbetts’ murder was Fox News’ top story at the same time that other news outlets carried the breaking news of Cohen’s and Manafort’s convictions.
What people are seeing on 4 homepages… pic.twitter.com/aD9HAIC9Rd
— Hamza Shaban (@hshaban) August 21, 2018
Homepages leading with Cohen/Manafort news:
The Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, MSNBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, NPR, BBC
Homepages not leading with Cohen/Manafort news:
(Looking for any others) pic.twitter.com/3jf1ccbKor
— Hamza Shaban (@hshaban) August 21, 2018
Coverage on other right-wing media outlets and among right-wing internet pundits also focused heavily on Tibbetts’ murder, even as the Manafort and Cohen trials dominated coverage elsewhere.
Candace Owens, communications director of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), jeered that although the left protested child separation policies, they didn’t protest the murders of Tibbetts and Kate Steinle, who was killed when an undocumented immigrant fired an illegally-possessed gun in her direction.
Leftists boycotted, screamed, and cried when illegal immigrants were temporarily separated from from their parents.
What will they do for Mollie Tibbetts?
What did they do for Kate Steinle?
They will NEVER see their parents again.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) August 21, 2018
Charlie Kirk, president of TPUSA, said that Tibbetts’ family should sue the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been representing Central American migrants who came to the U.S. seeking asylum:
Mollie Tibbett’s family should sue the @ACLU by preventing ICE from doing their jobs to find illegal aliens like Christian Rivera
The ACLU fights very hard every day to keep these criminals in America. And Mollie is now dead at the hands of another illegal alien criminal
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 21, 2018
Tomi Lahren, Fox News talking head, said it was “absolutely sickening” that candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York City Democrat running for Congress, and Cynthia Nixon, who has launched a primary challenge to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, are advocating for the abolishment of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency:
Yes, some illegals come here looking for a better life…and some come here and murder Mollie Tibbetts. Wake up.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) August 22, 2018
After yet another murder, will these deranged liberals like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Cynthia Nixon still advocate for the elimination of ICE? Absolutely sickening. Weak borders and weak immigration enforcement KILL AMERICANS!
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) August 21, 2018
Michelle Malkin, conservative pundit now working for CRTV, asked, “Where’s the Time magazine cover?,” referring to a cover the magazine ran as news broke about child separations happening at the Southern border:
Mollie Tibbetts was violently, permanently separated from her family and now an immigration law-breaker is in custody.
Where’s the Time magazine cover? https://t.co/pDcVYgOVrN
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) August 21, 2018
Jack Posobiec, One America News correspondent of “Pizzagate” fame, demanded that Trump “Build Kate and Mollie’s Wall”:
Build Kate and Mollie’s Wall
— Jack Posobiec ?? (@JackPosobiec) August 22, 2018
Mollie Tibbetts was a dreamer too
— Jack Posobiec ?? (@JackPosobiec) August 21, 2018
Andrew Wilkow, a SirusXM Patriot Channel host, addressed a tweet to Democrats that read that Tibbetts “has been separated from her family by an” illegal immigrant:
— Andrew Wilkow (@WilkowMajority) August 21, 2018
Cassandra Fairbanks, reporter at The Gateway Pundit, said that Democrats “want to let every monster into our country and don’t want women to be able to arm themselves. Remember that next time you’re jogging alone at night and some perv starts harassing you”:
The democrats want to let every monster into our country and don’t want women to be able to arm themselves. Remember that next time you’re jogging alone at night and some perv starts harassing you. #MollieTibbets
— Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) August 21, 2018
Bill Mitchell, YourVoice America host, said Democrats don’t care about Tibbetts’ murder:
Oh yes, and today we learned an illegal murdered an innocent young girl.
Democrats don’t care about THAT.
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) August 21, 2018
Katie Hopkins, pundit for Rebel Media, wrote, “This is The Fear. The monsters trembling in the dark to snatch your baby from you”:
She went for a jog around her tiny town and never returned. Her father came to search for her, only to leave empty-handed, broken-hearted. This is The Fear. The monsters trembling in the dark to snatch your baby from you. #MollieTibbetts pic.twitter.com/sGmPPuQ6nT
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) August 21, 2018
Ryan Saavedra, writer at The Daily Wire, snidely blasted the Washington Post for using the term “undocumented immigrant” instead of “illegal alien”:
CNN buries the fact that Mollie Tibbetts alleged killer is an *illegal alien* and then falsely refers to him as an *undocumented immigrant* pic.twitter.com/rF29bVDWdR
— Ryan Saavedra ?? (@RealSaavedra) August 21, 2018
Wayne Dupree, a right-wing talk radio host, posted that “the guilty co-conspirators” enabling illegal immigration should be “punished”:
Illegal immigration has to end, and the guilty co-conspirators punished
Mollie Tibbetts RIP
— ?Wayne Dupree (@WayneDupreeShow) August 22, 2018
Brit Hume of Fox News Channel wrote that if Tibbetts’ killer “hadn’t illegally entered the country, Mollie Tibbetts would be alive“:
Other than the fact that if he hadn’t illegally entered the country, Mollie Tibbetts would be alive. https://t.co/Bn0p99vgdl
— Brit Hume (@brithume) August 21, 2018
Amy Mekelberg, one of Trump’s leading anti-Muslim voices online, boosted the story on her own feed:
This is the Illegal immigrant, Cristhian Rivera, charged with murdering missing Mollie Tibbetts!
He admits chasing her down in her car, ‘blacking out’ and then dumping her body in a corn field
Rivera has been living in the US illegally for the last four to seven years. pic.twitter.com/W5HYCG5feY
— Amy Mek❌ (@AmyMek) August 21, 2018
Former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski wrote it was “non negotiable” that we “stop illegals from coming to our country and killing innocent people”:
We MUST stop illegals from coming to our country and killing innocent people – this is non negotiable. https://t.co/hbgm1RMf2y
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) August 21, 2018
Scott Presler, a Trump hype guy on social media, wrote that Tibbetts’ murder “is a result of democrat party policies.”
Mollie Tibbetts’ murder is a result of democrat party policies. #MollieTibbetts
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) August 21, 2018