Rachel Maddow choked up while covering news that the Trump administration has been sending babies separated from their parents at the US–Mexico border to at least three "tender age" shelters in South Texas.
As Maddow's show aired on MSNBC, the Associated Press published a report about shelters in Texas where the youngest children forcibly removed from their parents at the border are taken. It appeared the host was learning about the news as she read it on the air, pausing before beginning to say "this is incredible."
"Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children," Maddow said before stopping to take an extended pause as she seemed to hold back tears.
She then asked someone off-camera to "put up the graphic of this." When nothing appeared, however, she tried to continue reading the story.
Maddow got through another sentence, before pausing again and saying, "I think I'm gonna have to hand this off."
"Sorry. That's [it] for tonight; we'll see you again tomorrow, but it is time for The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, where he is live in Brownsville, Texas," she said, waving off the camera as O'Donnell appeared in split screen.
The news about the "tender age" shelters comes amid increased focus on the US–Mexico border because of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on immigration, which has led to a spike in separations of undocumented adults and their children at the US–Mexico border.
Since the government announced its plans, an estimated 2,300 children have been separated from their parents, and many of them are now under government care.
The AP story detailed how doctors and lawyers who had visited the three shelters described crying young children in chaos. The federal government stopped using orphanages decades ago, because of concerns that they have lasting effects on children, but is now housing Central American children in similar facilities, it said.
An official with the Department of Health and Human Services defended the facilities and said they are staffed by people who know how to help children.
"The shelters aren’t the problem; it’s taking kids from their parents that’s the problem," a South Texas pediatrician who had visited the shelters told the AP.
After the show, Maddow apologized to viewers on Twitter for choking up on the air, and shared the story she had been attempting to report.
In a Twitter thread, she shared additional details from the story, and ended with another apology to viewers.
"Not the way I intended that to go," she said. "Not by a mile."