Lawrence Jones may want to reconsider his choice of attire — and personal protection — the next time he reports from the U.S. border.
The correspondent for Hannity on Fox News was widely mocked this week after appearing on television from the border at Laredo, Texas, wearing a very tiny bulletproof vest with the logo of the U.S. Border Patrol on it. Before his appearance, Jones shared a picture of himself donning the small vest, which many noted would not seem to offer much protection should a random firefight break out.
As Buzzfeed News noted, the picture sparked a viral response, as many across the internet mocked Jones both for the poor fit of the vest and the fact that it appeared unnecessary while reporting on the U.S. border. Some other reporters chimed in to say that he was not in a war zone, as the vest appeared to be meant to imply, but instead a part of the border with little violence.
To many, the vest appeared to be meant to further a narrative pushed by President Donald Trump that immigrants crossing the U.S. border are dangerous and violent. Trump has repeatedly blamed immigrants for pushing a wave of violent crime in the United States, but The Washington Post notes that immigrants — both legal and undocumented — commit crimes at a rate significantly lower than native-born Americans.
The segment on which Jones appeared played into Trump’s theme of the supposed violence and lawlessness of immigrants who cross the border.
— Lawrence Jones III (@LawrenceBJones3) April 4, 2019
As the mockery spread across the internet, Jones returned to Hannity on Fox News to offer a defense. Jones told Sean Hannity that Border Patrol instructed him to wear the vest to keep him safe from cartels that operate at the U.S. border.
“They don’t know that the Border Patrol agent that’s standing right here and keeping us safe told me to put it on to keep us safe here,” Jones said of his legion of internet critics. “What people don’t understand is we control this side of the border, but the cartel controls the other side of the border. So there’s been gunfights. I’m going in danger with these Border Patrol agents to report on this story.”
But that defense fell apart quickly too, as a number of other journalists who report from the U.S. border chimed in to say that they had never been told by Border Patrol to wear a bulletproof vest. They noted that reporting from the border has always been safe, accusing Jones of grandstanding and purposely playing up a non-existent threat in order to paint an inaccurate picture for Fox News viewers.
Dude. Why are you wearing a bulletproof vest. YOU ARE NOT IN A WAR ZONE. Here I am reporting from the border recently WITHOUT a bulletproof vest, but WITH a coat of fabulous hairspray! pic.twitter.com/ftmBzjTBVT
— Lisa Guerrero ???????? (@4lisaguerrero) April 4, 2019
I covered the border in #ElPaso Sector for 2yrs. This is what 5ft tall me wore on the border interviewing immigrants recently apprehended by #BorderPatrol, on int’l bridges talking to asylum seekers denied entry to the U.S., and in the desert. No vest ever. pic.twitter.com/eaUEY3ovpi
— Claudia Tristán (@tristan_claudia) April 4, 2019
Lawrence Jones stood by his decision to wear the vest, though, in his second appearance on Fox News to defend himself, he wore a noticeably larger one.