In the days after nine American citizens — three women and six of their children — were brutally massacred by a suspected drug cartel in the Mexican state of Sonora, the mainstream media posted widely-ridiculed pieces focusing on the victims’ alleged ties to “violence” and “religious fundamentalism.”
Members of the related LeBarón and Langford families were victimized by one of the Mexican drug cartels while traveling to a wedding on Monday. The cartel repeatedly shot at their vehicles and set them on fire, killing nine — including a three-year-old — and injuring three others, including a seven-month-old baby girl.
Notably, the seven-month-old who survived, baby Faith Marie Johnson, was reportedly saved by her mother. Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29, who was killed in the attack, reportedly sacrificed her own life to shield little Faith from bullets flying into one of the cars. The Daily Wire reported Tuesday:
Kendra Lee Miller, a relative of the victims, writes in an account on Facebook about the discovery of Faith hours after the attack, her mother’s quick-thinking actions apparently having saved the child’s life. Family members “found Christina’s baby Faith with the vehicle around her riddled with bullet holes,” Miller writes. “Somehow she had remained untouched, and alive. She was in her car seat, which looked to have been hurriedly placed on the floor of the vehicle by her mother for protection.”
After apparently moving Faith’s car seat to a safer position, Christina, Miller explains, “jumped out waving her arms to let the attackers know that it was women and children in the vehicles. She gave her life to try and save the rest.”
The victims had U.S. citizenship and belonged to a religious community in Mexico. As noted by The Daily Wire, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not recognize the religious community to which the members belonged as part of the Mormon Church.
The day following the news of the attack, the Los Angeles Times focused on the deceased’s alleged ties to violence.
“U.S. victims in Mexico massacre were tied to family with a long history of violence,” the headline said. However, the headline, according to Townhall senior writer Julio Rosas, was later changed to read: “Massacre of U.S. citizens aims spotlight at Mormon community with deep roots in Mexico.”
U.S. victims in Mexico massacre were tied to family with a long history of violence https://t.co/tNUdw20wKx
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 6, 2019
“Some of the victims shared the last name LeBaron,” the Times story outlined, adding:
“The LeBarons are among ‘a handful of major groups of fundamentalists,’ said Patrick Mason, a historian of Mormonism at Utah State University. But, he added: ‘The LeBaron name in recent decades has been most often linked to violence. Unfortunately, this incident only adds to that association.'”
“The family is perhaps best known for a series of killings perpetrated in the 1970s and 1980s, in both Mexico and the United States, by Ervil LeBaron — once called the ‘Mormon Manson’ — and a group of his followers,” the piece continued.
Some also took issue with The New York Times for focusing on the victims’ “religious fundamentalism.”
“The brutal killing of [nine] members of an American family in northern Mexico on Monday highlights the long history of religious fundamentalist settlers in the region. Our religion reporter, Elizabeth Dias, details their history back to the early 20th century,” the Times posted.
The brutal killing of 9 members of an American family in northern Mexico on Monday highlights the long history of religious fundamentalist settlers in the region. Our religion reporter, Elizabeth Dias, details their history back to the early 20th century. https://t.co/rfvtzdTN9i
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 5, 2019
The reactions to the pieces blew up online, many accusing the outlets of “victim blaming.”
“Well the NY Times and the LA Times found who is really to blame for a drug cartel brutally murdering and torching 9 people to death, including kids — the victims,” said FoxNews.com contributor Stephen Miller.
Well the NY Times and the LA Times found who is really to blame for a drug cartel brutally murdering and torching 9 people to death, including kids – the victims. pic.twitter.com/cvDgKKPqA7
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) November 6, 2019
Comedian and former Playboy writer Bridget Phetasy bluntly wrote, “This is disgusting victim blaming [L.A. Times] and you should be ashamed.”
— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) November 6, 2019
“Nine Americans, including children, were brutally murdered, and the New York Times doesn’t call out the evil of the cartels, but labels the family ‘fundamentalist settlers?'” the account for PragerU questioned. “Shame on you, [New York Times].”
Nine Americans, including children, were brutally murdered, and the New York Times doesn't call out the evil of the cartels, but labels the family "fundamentalist settlers"?
— PragerU (@prageru) November 6, 2019
“Did the cartel write this?” Rosas blasted the LA Times.
Did the cartel write this? https://t.co/72RB4jaixH
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) November 6, 2019
Breitbart News’ Brandon Darby similarly posted, “Serious question, [L.A. Times]. Did someone in Mexico promise you access or exclusives if you agreed to help smear these victims of cartel violence? Trying to understand why you’d do this.”
“Or is it that ‘the border is safe’ narrative means so much to your editors politically that you just decided to piss on the bodies of the women and children killed in order to protect that narrative?” he added.
Or is it that “the border is safe” narrative means so much to your editors politically that you just decided to piss on the bodies of the women and children killed in order to protect that narrative? @latimes
— Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) November 6, 2019
“Is the idea here that the victims had it coming? This is an insane piece,” Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro said.
Is the idea here that the victims had it coming? This is an insane piece. https://t.co/8xEVTZnVez
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 6, 2019
Steve Cortes, a CNN political commentator, posted: “What a disgraceful tweet and article from corporate media [L.A. Times]. The clear message: ‘[W]ell, these women and children who were gunned down by cartel monsters, they themselves had some pretty crazy relatives … or something’ …”
What a disgraceful tweet and article from corporate media @latimes. The clear message: “well, these women and children who were gunned down by cartel monsters, they themselves had some pretty crazy relatives…or something”… https://t.co/9H6Ddaz721
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) November 6, 2019
“‘The [eight-]month old baby that was shot by a cartel member deserved it’ – Journos,” mocked popular political Twitter account Comfortably Smug, adding: “‘Actually a family getting pulled from their cars, raped, shot and set on fire is good’ – L.A. Times.”
"Actually a family getting pulled from their cars, raped, shot and set on fire is good" – LA Times
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) November 6, 2019
President Donald Trump’s reaction was not the same at the media’s. Taking to his Twitter account on Tuesday morning, Trump declared “war” on drug cartels as he recalled what was known at the time of the brutal assault on the “wonderful” Utah “family and friends.”
“A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing,” the president posted.
“If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing [and] able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively,” Trump continued. “The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” the president concluded. “We merely await a call from your great new president!”