Following the tragic loss of border patrol agent Rogelio Martinez in November, President Donald Trump immediately proclaimed his death a murder and insisted the country support his anti-immigrant agenda and desired border wall - speaking well in advance of all the facts.
But as the Washington Post reports, Trump has made no effort to correct the record now that the facts are in and the Federal Bureau of Investigations found no evidence of an attack. Martinez is believed to have died in an unfortunate accident.
On the night of Nov. 18, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was found dying on the side of an interstate in West Texas. There were immediate signs it had been an accident. Martinez’s partner, Stephen Garland (who suffered a head injury and doesn’t recall the incident), had radioed for help, saying he thought he ran into a culvert.
The FBI swung into action, mobilizing 37 field offices, and this week it announced its findings. Although the investigation “has not conclusively determined” what happened, “none of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on November 18, 2017.”
But anyone who follows primarily conservative media is likely unaware of the new developments - the truth garnered far less press than earlier speculation, and the president has not tweeted any new information.
Nor was Trump alone in pushing the narrative that Martinez was brutally murdered:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, offered a reward “to help solve this murder” and to “help us catch this killer.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) declared the incident “a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses.”
And then there was Fox News, reporting that “a border patrol agent was brutally murdered” and going with the headline “Border Patrol agent appeared to be ambushed by illegal immigrants, bashed with rocks before death.” Fox News host Tucker Carlson reported that Martinez was “attacked at the border in the most gruesome possible way.”
Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, one of the first on the scene, said right away that he doubted an attack had occurred and suggested a fall or vehicular accident was the cause.
Trump's lie was sold regardless, and it remains unlikely that it will be undone:
Compared with the original allegations, the findings got little attention. There was no corrective tweet from Trump or the others and no retraction by Fox News, which buried the FBI’s findings with brief mention. Fox News, which had previously reported immigrants to be guilty of rape allegations that were later dropped, continued to report the border union’s claim of assault “despite FBI finding no scuffle.”
As the Post notes:
It has been more than 300 years since Jonathan Swift wrote about the utility of falsehood: “If a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect . . . like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.”