Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones was at the center of a Twitter roasting on Thursday after he shared a photo of himself wearing a teeny protective vest while preparing for a live shot at the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas.
— Lawrence Jones III (@LawrenceBJones3) April 4, 2019
Indeed, that is a comically undersized vest. It's also very reminiscent of Jared Kushner's 2017 flak jacket photo opp.
A few other journalists shared their own photos reporting from the border without the need for protections from a shootout, questioning if Jones' choice was necessary or for optics.
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
Wow. @MarieDennise & I went on assignment miles deep into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico without bulletproof vests. We saw how U.S. customer officers being reassigned is creating nightmare traffic jams for northbound shipments of auto parts & produce. I can help y'all get the same tour. pic.twitter.com/1Gnkat0HmW
— Sergio Chapa (@SergioChapa) April 5, 2019
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
After all, it's not hard to imagine this being part of the fear-mongering that both Fox News and President Trump (who are now inextricably linked) have participated in regarding immigration and the border. And, as the Washington Post noted, Webb County, where Jones was reporting, "is safer than 80 percent of comparable counties nationwide, the institute said, using FBI crime statistics."
But, the best reactions were the ones that straight-up mocked the body armor, a mix of GIFs and Photoshops that made light of the absurd visual.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 5, 2019
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) April 4, 2019
To Jones' credit, he would later take to Twitter and explain that the vest was required by Customs and Border Protection officers, saying they would be liable if anything happened on his ride-along. He even apparently acknowledged why people reacted the way they did to the vest. He even tweeted his own joke about it on Friday morning.
I’m tempted to make my vest my trademark like Deray’s blue vest. We will see.
— Lawrence Jones III (@LawrenceBJones3) April 5, 2019
But those reactions are a direct result of Fox News' treatment of the border stories all along; even if there's a reasonable explanation for things, it's hard to take it seriously in the full context of the network's coverage.
UPDATE: April 5, 2019, 10:45 a.m. EDT An earlier version of the story referred to the piece of equipment as a bulletpoof vest. The wording has been changed.