After losing major advertisers AT&T and Verizon, KFI Los Angeles' John & Ken Show can add one more brick to the pile: General Motors. The auto company reportedly pulled its advertisements from the program following a campaign led by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) calling for a boycott of the program by its advertisers in response to the disparaging, anti-immigrant vitriol the hosts frequently use on-air.
This was a radio ad buy from a group of dealers, and we quickly asked the ad group to cancel it, which they are doing now.
The John & Ken Show -- hosted by John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou -- airs from 3 to 7 p.m. on KFI, a Clear Channel network, and reportedly has an audience of 1.2 million listeners.
According to the most recent U.S. Census data, there are nearly 309 million people in the United States. Of those, the Pew Research Center estimates that 11.2 million are undocumented immigrants. Yet Fox News would have you believe that number to be much, much higher if the type of discussions about immigration and immigrants on the network is any indication.
A Media Matters analysis of the immigration issues Fox News asked its guests to talk about between April 13, 2010, when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070 into law, and June 9, 2011, when Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in turn signed an anti-immigration bill critics have called a "sweeping attack on immigrants and people of color," reveals that Fox News views immigration through the prism of illegality and crime, almost to the exclusion of everything else.
During that time period, according to our data, of the 1,697 guest appearances (most of whom took anti-immigrant positions or held anti-immigrant views) 69 percent were prompted to discuss border security or other immigration enforcement measures. Besides immigration enforcement, topics included S.B. 1070, state laws that were similar in scope to the Arizona immigration law, the workplace immigration verification tool E-Verify, birthright citizenship, and other general enforcement measures. However, when crime, including border violence and other stories dealing with criminality were factored in, all told, these constituted 78 percent of the total immigration discussions on Fox News.
What many consider the real issues of immigration were all but ignored by Fox News. A paltry 11 percent of appearances was spent discussing immigration policy, including comprehensive immigration reform. The rest comprised the DREAM Act legislation, education, particularly in-state tuition measures for undocumented students, breaking news, political stories, the economy, and labor issues.
On every single show, save The O'Reilly Factor, at least 71 percent of the guest appearances discussed border security, enforcement issues, or crime. On The Factor, 57 percent of the guest appearances discussed these issues, while on Your World with Neil Cavuto, it was an astonishing 90 percent. On the Record with Greta Van Susteren and Happening Now followed with 85 percent apiece, with Hannity next with 84 percent, and America's Newsroom with 82 percent.
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that Gov. Rick Perry was "exactly right" when he said that the federal government has "not engaged ... at all" in border security. In fact, under President Obama, deportations have increased -- including deportations of convicted criminals -- and the number of border patrol agents and funding for border security projects have also increased.
During Thursday's Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News and Google, moderators looked to anti-immigrant group the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to ask the first question on immigration. Nearly 20,000 questions were reportedly submitted on a variety of topics, but for immigration, Fox chose one by FAIR spokeswoman Kristen Williamson. From the debate:
WILLIAMSON: Struggling U.S. workers continue to compete with millions of illegal aliens. Do you support legislation to require all employers to use E-Verify in order to insure that the people that they hire are actually legally authorized to work in the U.S., and will you impose penalties against employers who continue to hire illegal workers?
FAIR is an anti-immigrant organization considered a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It not only has a history of using extreme, violent, and offensive language directed at undocumented immigrants, but it has extremist ties as well.
The second and last question about immigration submitted by a viewer that Fox chose asked: "Are you going to exert an effort to stop the abuse of U.S. citizens by illegals?"
It's hardly surprising Fox would choose a question on immigration from an extremist group in light of the negative tone it has set in framing the immigration debate. Moreover, considering Fox has a history of advocating for the error-prone and potentially racist E-Verify program, it's also not shocking that the network chose a question that advanced the common anti-immigrant sentiment that undocumented immigrants "compete" with "struggling U.S. workers" -- a sentiment that is simply misplaced.
Richard Spencer, executive director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), was beginning his opening remarks as I settled uneasily into my seat in the back row of a small, brightly lit banquet room. From a podium at the front of the room, the brown-haired young man pointed to a projection of a color-shaded world map that he claimed depicted regional variations in the average Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of indigenous populations.
According to the map, East Asian and European peoples possess the highest IQs while African and Australian indigenous populations possess the lowest. He then switched to a NASA photograph of the world at night, depicting city lights around the globe visible from space. He compared the brightest-lit areas (China, Europe, North America) to the previous map, proclaiming that the brightest localities were also those with the highest IQ.
"You can see, Africa is literally the Dark Continent."
It was on that note that NPI's national conference, titled Towards a New Nationalism: Immigration and the Future of Western Nations, began. This was the first such event for the fledgling white nationalist organization NPI, a think tank of sorts dedicated to "promot[ing] the American majority's unique historical, cultural, and biological inheritance - and advances policies that, without prejudicing the legitimate rights of others, fearlessly defends our rights...our heritage." Dedicated, in other words, to advancing the interests of the white race.
The event was a first for me as well. I would be, for the first time, experiencing a gathering of white supremacists from such an intimate perspective. Watching, learning, interacting -- I would attempt to sort out what they believe and why and explore the relationship between the white nationalist movement and the more mainstream political spectrum. As a clean-cut white male, my presence wasn't suspicious and the other attendees assumed I shared their views. For my part, I let them assume, and I did my best to blend in.
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at 9 a.m., but a part of me anticipated swarms of protestors, a strong police presence clashing with private security forces and a raucous racist crowd inside the hall, cheering on some podium-smacking orator bloviating about the evils of the Jewish race and the need to oppress the black community.
Instead, I was greeted jovially upon arrival to a scene that more closely resembled a modest cocktail party, with no security and a few people standing around sipping coffee and discussing literature. I picked up my name tag and glanced at the design -- a photograph of a white family smiling over a white background adjacent to the well-known political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin depicting a severed serpent and the phrase "JOIN, or DIE."
Reading over the conference program, I caught a glimpse of what I was in for from the titles of the speeches to come. They ranged from the blandly predictable - "Is Arizona the Answer?", "Prospects for a Nationalist Right in America"; to the ominously enigmatic - "Apocalypse Now," "Totalitarian Humanism and Mass Immigration," "The Masters of the Universe"; to the truly chill-inducing -- "The Idea and Ideal of the Ethno-State."
Following the Obama administration's decision to postpone the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants in order to prioritize "convicted felons" and "public safety threats," right-wing media have reacted by resorting to fearmongering, inflammatory rhetoric, and falsehoods.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) leader William Gheen has frequently presented himself as a moderate within the American nativist movement since founding ALIPAC in 2005.
Last May, for example, Gheen yanked ALIPAC's backing of a major rally for Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, S.B. 1070, after learning that one of its organizers was linked to racist skinhead groups.
Such anti-extremist posturing has lent Gheen mainstream media credibility. He's been quoted often, nearly two dozen times by mainstream papers in the last six months, according to a Nexis search. Even The New York Times included his comments in a story on border security published August 9.
Earlier this week, however, Gheen appeared to relinquish his mainstream legitimacy in favor of predicting race war and endorsing violence in response to the immigration policies of "Dictator Barack Obama."
As first reported by Right Wing Watch, Gheen argued on the air that the Obama administration is preparing for "conflict with White America" by allowing millions of non-white immigrants into the U.S. to "back them up."
Gheen advocated for "illegal and violent" actions in response.
GHEEN: What Janet Napolitano has spent most of her time doing in the last couple of months has been, one, preparing the new spy network that's available now, the new data-collecting, see everything you do online, beyond the normal terrorist list that they're creating, they're creating a much larger list now of people who might be troublesome here in the country. And putting out videos and propaganda telegraphing what I believe to be a conflict with White America they're preparing for after they get another 10 or 15 million people in the country to back them up.
We're no longer referring to him as President Barack Obama, our national organization has made the decision and made the announcement we now refer to him as Dictator Barack Obama. That's what he is. And basically at this point, if you're looking for a peaceful, political recourse there really isn't one that we can think of, and I'm really not sure what to tell people out there other than I guess they need to make decisions soon to just accept whatever comes next or some type of extra-political activities that I can't really even talk about because they're all illegal and violent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that while open expressions of racial radicalism are new for Gheen, the ALIPAC leader is "no stranger to more more garden-variety bigotry and fear-mongering":
He has accused Mexican immigrants of carrying infectious diseases and plotting to take over the Southwest. In April 2010, he targeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), claiming that the 56-year-old bachelor is gay and saying he should come out to avoid being blackmailed into working with Democrats on immigration reform. In July 2010, Gheen told revisionist "historian" David Barton that LGBT people secretly want to import undocumented immigrants as a way of "replacing many core Americans and American values," part of an overall "war" against Americans.
In his August 23 Washington Times column, Charles Hurt fearmongered over the Obama administration's new immigration policy prioritizing the deportation of criminals by claiming that "you can bet some of these illegals who had been headed for deportation will manage to sneak in a few votes. Maybe even enough to swing the election." Hurt further compared Obama to a "dictator currying favor by releasing political prisoners just before an 'election.' " From the Times:
The surest sign yet that President Obama will cashier his "hope" and "change" gimmicks from the last campaign in favor of a switchblade and brass knuckles for the next one was the stunning landmark decision he quietly made last week before hightailing it up to Martha's Vineyard for a trip to Luxuryville.
Like a dictator currying favor by releasing political prisoners just before an "election," Mr. Obama decided to reject the repeatedly expressed wishes of Congress and halt deportations of illegal immigrants.
[W]ith all the skeezy Election Day tactics we see with same-day registration and a refusal to require voters to actually prove they are legal residents who should be voting in the election, you can bet some of these illegals who had been headed for deportation will manage to sneak in a few votes.
Maybe even enough to swing the election.
In an August 23 Washington Times op-ed titled, "Obama's immigration shake-up, White House grants amnesty to anyone but convicted felons," Emily Miller wrote:
President Obama is using his executive authority to grant backdoor amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the administration's immigration-enforcement efforts would ignore "low-priority cases." That means most criminal aliens can stay, and only convicted felons will get the boot.
This new case-by-case-basis interpretation of immigration laws will give illegals a work permit to stick around in the United States, taking jobs away from the 9.1 percent of Americans looking for work. Congressional Democrats, who couldn't get their laissez-faire immigration bill passed last year, applauded the White House move.
Basically, it's a free pass as long as you don't get convicted of a serious crime.
Mr. Obama might as well stand at the border with a sign saying, "Come on in. Do whatever you want, just don't get caught."
From the August 19 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox & Friends repeatedly aired a photo of a man climbing a fence on the Mexican border to fearmonger over border security. However, illegal border crossings have reportedly "sputtered to a trickle," and the Obama administration has taken measures to increase border security; moreover, according to Fox's own reporting, the man shown in the picture was captured by Border Patrol agents.
Reports of two previously unknown border vigilante operations, including one that apparently hires U.S. Marines as paid mercenaries, have surfaced in internal documents from the Arizona Department of Public Safety stolen and released last week by the hacker collective LulzSec.
According to the documents, Department of Homeland Security intelligence analysts warned last April that one of these vigilante groups could present a threat of human rights violations and violence against law enforcement officers.
One of the documents, a report from the interagency HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Investigative Support Center, reveals that in October 2008, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered two vigilantes armed with pistols and at least one M4 assault rifle, wearing desert camouflage uniforms.
|Neo-nazi border vigilante leader J.T. Ready in southern Arizona last summer |
(From Ready's private archives)
The men informed the Border Patrol agents that they were members of Blue Lights, a border watch group.
"They stated they were not members of the Minutemen, but paid contract employees who 'get the job done' and 'were not just volunteers,'" according to the HIDTA report. "They possessed valid United States Marine Corps identification cards."
(As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2006, violent right-wing extremist groups in recent years have stepped up their wartime recruiting of active duty and recently discharged members of the U.S. military.)
According to the HIDTA report, the Marines said their operation was based at the Caballo Loco Ranch, a remote RV park in the high Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona. It has repeatedly served as the base camp or headquarters for Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and Patriots' Border Alliance vigilante operations since 2007.
A trend that has been noticed far too often here at Media Matters is this: if Fox News wants to spin a certain aspect of a story to fit their conservative agenda, they'll do it any way they know how. Their blog, Fox Nation, seems to exist solely to do just that.
On June 25, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about a call by human rights groups, including the ACLU and Amnesty International, to investigate fatal shootings of various people who threw rocks and nail-studded boards at U.S. Border Patrol agents. The headline, as it appeared in the Times, read:
Fox Nation, linking to the same Los Angeles Times article, posted this headline:
Here, Fox Nation clearly manipulates the headline of the Times article in order to do two things, both of which are big talking points on the Fox News agenda: attack the ACLU, and use the blatantly offensive term "illegals" to describe the attackers in question who threw the rocks.
As immigration reform has re-entered the public debate, Fox News has spent the past several weeks misleading on the issue and slanting its news coverage to paint immigrants in a negative light.
The Center for Immigration Studies gave Tucson Weekly writer Leo W. Banks an award for "excellence in the coverage of immigration." However, in his writing, Banks has used dehumanizing and anti-immigrant language and has promoted the myth of extensive violence in United States along the border.