The most important thing on the screen of almost any cable-news broadcast—with apologies to human television anchors—is the chyron.
That headline-like block of contextualizing text at the bottom of the screen is the essence of the medium. It tells you what you need to know without banter or blond hair. It’s there to orient the most passive of viewers—the person who glances at the screen from across the gym or the airport terminal. And it frequently reveals a network’s editorial values. A cable-news broadcast without that little ticker of text would be like the cover of the New York Post without a screaming, all-caps headline. The chyron isn’t just an added touch. It’s the first thing people look for.
And so people noticed, because how could you not, when Fox & Friends briefly displayed a chyron early Sunday morning that declared: “TRUMP CUTS AID TO 3 MEXICAN COUNTRIES.”
This was apparently an attempt to contextualize the Trump administration’s announcement on Saturday that it would cut aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—three Central American countries that are not, to be clear, Mexico. Trump had characterized the move in retaliatory terms. “We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us,” he told reporters. But Fox characterized it—inaccurately, embarrassingly, tellingly—in a way that seemed to evoke some greater truth about the Trump administration, Fox & Friends, and anyone else who sees immigration and Mexico as synonymous and similarly threatening.