The major broadcast networks have spent 114 minutes of airtime on Danelo Cavalcante, the illegal alien who escaped a Chester County, Pennsylvania prison on August 31 after being convicted of violently murdering his ex-girlfriend in front of her children. Yet throughout this veritable ocean of coverage, not a single person on any of these three networks has even once bothered to mention that Cavalcante entered this country illegally.
MRC analysts examined all flagship morning and evening news programs on the big three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) between August 31 and September 12, 2023 for any mention of Cavalcante. During that time, they spent a total of 114 minutes and 25 seconds on the story (ABC: 47 minutes, 34 seconds; NBC: 42 minutes, 5 seconds; CBS: 24 minutes, 51 seconds).
Despite dancing around the subject constantly, not a single analyst, anchor, or correspondent would admit that the star of their fevered manhunt story was an illegal alien (or “undocumented,” or a “migrant,” or an “asylum seeker”). That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities. Analysts identified 34 instances in which it would have been natural — even logical — for reporters to mention Cavalcante’s immigration status.
For example, reporters pointed out 19 times that he was “originally” from Brazil. Eight times, it was mentioned that his native language was Portuguese. On four occasions, it was revealed that his sister was an illegal alien, and audiences were told three separate times that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were involved in the search.
Why might CBP be involved in the search for a Portuguese-speaking murderer from Brazil, whose sister had been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement? The networks couldn’t say.
The closest anyone came to revealing Cavalcante’s status as an illegal alien was during the September 8 edition of World News Tonight, when ABC national correspondent Trevor Ault explained: “Wanted for murder in his native Brazil, officials say he hid in the jungle, eventually fleeing to the U.S.”
Still not enough for a D-, but perhaps Trevor has earned himself a softer F than his peers.
There should be no doubt that these repeated omissions were deliberate. It almost boggles the mind that throughout nearly two hours of dedicated reporting — an eternity in broadcast news time — not a soul has thought to mention that Cavalcante wasn’t supposed to be in the United States to begin with.