As it turns out, being a person of color isn’t the only way to get harassed by U.S. immigration officers. Working for the so-called “fake news media” can result in some unwanted attention from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, too.

British journalist James Dyer, who writes about film and TV for Empire magazine in the United Kingdom, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday en route to Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, The Washington Post reported.

Upon presenting his journalist visa at Customs, however, an unnamed CBP agent asked if Dyer was part of the “fake news media”—and the exchange only went downhill from there.

The writer shared his story in a now-viral Twitter thread.

Dyer said the agent asked if he’d ever worked for a media outlet that “[spreads] lies to the American people.” He then accused journalists like Dyer of “attacking democracy” in comments closely mirroring those of Donald Trump, who regularly claims the press spreads “fake news” in its coverage of his administration.

What Dyer called a “surprising and inappropriate” diatribe reportedly came to an end when he told the agent he was just in LA to write about Star Wars and promised to “keep the fake news about that to a bare minimum.”

Dyer said the conversation only lasted “a couple of minutes” and that he wasn’t detained or taken into a separate room for questioning.

The interaction, however, took place amid heightened distrust of the news media based in part on Trump’s ongoing rhetoric against journalists and publications he has dubbed the “enemy of the people.”

Back in May, journalist Seth Harp was detained at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas upon his return from a reporting trip to Mexico City. Despite being a U.S. citizen and presenting a valid passport, Harp said he was pulled out of line for “secondary screening” after he refused to answer a CBP agent’s questions about the “substance of the story” he was working on at the time.

Harp, a white man, detailed his experience in an article for The Intercept.

In another chilling example, BuzzFeed News editor David Mack said he was “grilled” at John F. Kennedy International Airport in February when a CBP agent questioned him at length about a story BuzzFeed published about Trump and the Russia investigation.

Unsurprisingly, the Twitter backlash against Dyer’s treatment at LAX was swift.

For its part, a CBP spokesperson told The Post it was aware of Dyer’s encounter.

“All CBP officers take an Oath of Office, a solemn pledge that conveys great responsibility and one that should be carried out at all times with the utmost professionalism,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Inappropriate comments or behavior are not tolerated and do not reflect our values of vigilance, integrity and professionalism.”

Despite being encouraged to file an official complaint against the agent in question, Dyer told The Post in a Twitter message that he “wasn’t looking to get him fired for it.”

“I hugely disagree with what the guy said as I’m a woolly liberal and I find that kind of Trumpian propaganda depressing but I respect his right to have different views,” Dyer wrote. “I do think it’s inappropriate (in the extreme) to articulate those views to a foreign journalist upon arrival in his capacity as an officer.”

According to The Post, the 2019 World Freedom Press Index classified the treatment of journalists in the U.S. as “problematic” for the first time since the index was started in 2002. The report’s authors contributed the result to “President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric and continuing threats to journalists.”

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*First Published: August 23, 2019, 10:12 am