People are criticising a Fox News contributor for wearing a protective vest at the border as though it were a ‘war zone’. He says Border Patrol made him wear it.

Contributor Lawrence Jones (left) appeared on Fox News wearing a vest while reporting from the US-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. Fox News
  • A Fox News contributor sparked criticism on Wednesday after he reported from the US-Mexico border while wearing what appeared to be a protective vest.
  • The contributor, Lawrence Jones, pushed back on accusations that he was portraying the border as a “war zone” and said Customs and Border Protection required that he wear the vest.
  • Some reporters spoke up on Twitter, noting that they frequently participated in ride-alongs with Border Patrol without being required to wear a vest.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Fox News is facing criticism for a segment on Wednesday that featured a journalist reporting from the US-Mexico border, wearing what appeared to be a protective vest sporting a Border Patrol badge.

Critics seized on the notion that the border is dangerous enough to warrant tactical gear, with some accusing the network of portraying the area as a “war zone.” Data show that Texas border cities generally have lower crime rates than similarly-sized cities in other parts of the state.

The contributor, Lawrence Jones, was reporting from Laredo on the surge of Central American families who have been crossing the border in record numbers and requesting asylum in the US. He said in a series of tweets on Thursday that he had participated on a ride-along with Border Patrol agents, who instructed him to wear the vest.

He also disputed the notion that he had been trying to portray the border as a war zone, and added that Customs and Border Protection had required him to wear it, otherwise they’d be liable if he was harmed.

“Did I say it was a war zone or did you ignorantly assume that because I was wearing a vest?” he tweeted. “Bottom line: CBP instructed me to put on one of their vests during my ride-along. Period.”

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During the segment that aired during Sean Hannity’s show, Jones could be seen wearing the vests at certain points, and wearing just a black T-shirt in others.

Jones did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment, and a Fox News spokesperson directed INSIDER to Jones’ tweets about the criticism.

CBP also did not respond to INSIDER’s questions about whether the protective vests are mandatory during ride-alongs. Former INSIDER reporter Daniel Brown was not asked to wear any tactical or bulletproof vests during his ride-along with Border Patrol last spring, though he was required to wear a life preserver while aboard a patrol boat.

But it’s not entirely uncommon for law-enforcement agencies to require reporters wear bulletproof vests during ride-alongs. The New York Police Department, for instance, has a rule requiring ride-along participants to wear bulletproof vests.

Yet a number of journalists who freq uently report on the border and participate in Border Patrol ride-alongs said on Twitter Thursday that they have never been required to wear vests.

During the segment, Jones told Hannity that he witnessed the border in a state of “crisis,” and that he saw surveillance footage showing illegal activity throughout the sector.

“They didn’t tell me that it was a crisis; they showed me the crisis,” Jones said. “I’m standing on the border by the Rio Grande. It’s right behind me. They showed me over 200 arrests yesterday made right here.”