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Who knows who the rancher is, though, or whether there’s any reason to believe that she is reliable. The Examiner grants her anonymity “for fear of retaliation by cartels who move the individuals.” But given how vague and unconvincing the allegations she airs are, one wonders why the cartels would even care.
“There’s a lot of people coming in not just from Mexico,” the rancher tells Giaritelli. “People, the general public, just don’t get the terrorist threats of that. That’s what’s really scary. You don’t know what’s coming across. We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal. It’s not just Mexican nationals that are coming across.”
As the rancher admits, she has never seen any Middle Easterners, though she insists that she has seen prayer rugs. She’s just heard tell from Border Patrol officials that Middle Easterners have come through—“several agents that I trust. There’s not a lot that I do trust, but the ones I do trust, I talk to them.”
Her own account is suspect, too. The claim of abandoned prayer rugs, presumably left by nefarious Muslim terrorists sneaking into the United States over the Rio Grande to do dirty deeds, has long floated around conservative circles. In 2014, PolitiFact awarded then–Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst a pants-on-fire rating for claiming that prayer rugs had been found in the Lone Star State. The fact-checking group noted recurrences of the meme at least as far back as 2005, but concluded,“We find his statement incorrect and ridiculous.” More recently, video footage has indeed emerged of prayer rugs at the border—but the problem is, it was from the Hollywood action flick Sicario: Day of the Soldado.
The anonymous rancher also told the Examiner, “What Border Patrol classifies as OTMs [other than Mexicans] has really increased in the last couple years, but drastically within the last six months. Chinese, Germans, Russians, a lot of Middle Easterners, those Czechoslovakians they caught over on our neighbor’s just last summer.”
This is truly a remarkable piece of information because if it’s true, the Czechoslovakians are slipping not only over national borders but also through the bounds of the space-time continuum, since Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on January 1, 1993.
To sum up: The Examiner has a single unnamed source, with no obvious qualification beyond proximity to the border, passing along second- and third-hand information, some of which seems recycled from debunked memes.
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It’s doubtful that Trump checked any of this out. The president has demonstrated a long-running inability to sort truth from fiction, and he often shares bogus claims, even though he has the full power of the executive branch available to him to determine what is real. He appears not to read, and certainly not with any kind of rigor, which may make it harder for him to spot the many holes in the Examiner piece.