The right-wing media are claiming that the "liberal agenda" President Obama outlined in his second inaugural address is out of the mainstream, even though polling has shown that the majority of Americans agree with Obama's stances on marriage equality, sustainable energy, and other issues.
Now that the Obama administration and Congress are engaged in a debate over immigration policy, a Media Matters review of major news outlets has found that when it comes to immigration coverage, anti-immigrant commentator Mark Krikorian continues to be the media's preferred conservative voice. Krikorian heads the Center for Immigration Studies, a group associated with notorious nativist John Tanton and whose research has been called into question -- but these facts are routinely ignored in coverage of his remarks.
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Despite its long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric, Fox News promoted a conference sponsored by former President George W. Bush's foundation that discussed the benefits immigrants bring to the U.S. economy.
On the December 4 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox correspondent Casey Stegall reported live from the conference in Dallas where Bush was about to speak. According to Stegall, the conference featured discussions of "how immigration actually benefits the economy and how reform is really necessary to get the economic engines going." Stegall's report contained footage of a woman stating that "immigrants actually accelerate growth."
While waiting for Bush to take the podium, Happening Now co-host Jon Scott interviewed The Hill's A.B. Stoddard about how Bush now wants to have a role in the "reset" of the Republican Party on issues of immigration. Scott noted that Bush "did pretty well" with Hispanics as a presidential candidate, while Stoddard highlighted how Bush "spent so much time" in Texas "speaking Spanish, living among -- a place where the demographics were changing so quickly. ... He knew this had to be a part of the Republican tent." After airing about four minutes of Bush's speech, Scott and Stoddard returned to discuss immigration again.
In noting President Obama's opposition to a Republican-promoted House bill allowing more skilled workers into the U.S., Wall Street Journal columnist Gordon Crovitz failed to mention the reason for Obama's opposition: The House bill eliminates a visa program for immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S., and is too "narrowly tailored" to achieve Obama's goal of comprehensive immigration reform.
Fox misrepresented the effect of a Massachusetts plan to provide access to its state colleges for some immigrants in order to falsely suggest that this plan would be a burden on other students and taxpayers.
On November 19, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick reiterated a policy granting undocumented students the ability to qualify for state resident tuition rates at state colleges. The Massachusetts DREAM Act would allow young people who meet federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals criteria to receive in-state tuition rates if they meet residency requirements.
On the December 3 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade opened by misrepresenting the law, asking, "Should illegals be allowed to get a break on in-state tuition on the backs of legal students?" He followed up by claiming Massachusetts had made this possible. Kilmeade hosted Massachusetts State Rep. James Lyons who asserted that the law forces "struggling taxpayers of Massachusetts to subsidize those who are breaking the rules." Co-host Kilmeade agreed with Lyon: "[Y]ou believe you should actually be an in-state resident and legal in order to receive [in-state tuition]. What a novel thought." From the show:
Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer slurred undocumented immigrants as "illegals," a term that has been condemned by several prominent journalistic organizations.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on Face the Nation and he said that he intended to "pass an immigration reform bill." Schieffer responded by asking "Would that mean finding some path to citizenship for the illegals that are in this country?"
The Associated Press Stylebook instructs journalists not to "use the terms illegal alien, an an illegal or illegals."
Numerous organizations and commentators have also called on the media not to use the loaded term "illegals." For instance, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists has called on news media to stop using the word "illegals" as a noun. The NAHJ stated that it was "particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word 'illegals' as a noun, shorthand for 'illegal aliens.'" The statement added that "using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed." The Asian American Journalists Association's handbook implores journalists to "avoid" the word "illegals," calling it "a slur."
From the November 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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In the wake of the Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential election, Fox News personalities are urging the Republican Party to reach out to Latinos and immigrants. But these same figures have spewed anti-immigrant rhetoric for years.
The battle for the future of the Republican Party has split warring factions of conservative pundits into two camps: those who clamor for expanding the base to increase diversity by appealing to Latino voters, and those who don't. It's Rush Limbaugh versus Sean Hannity, Fox News against Fox News.
But while the country's shifting demographics can partly explain what happened on Election Day, conservative pundits are ignoring a few keys facts: President Obama was reelected because voters trusted him on economic issues, and Latinos are more liberal in their views than conservative media give them credit for.
The wide consensus in the first camp is that Mitt Romney's electoral loss will be the first of many unless the movement starts to appeal to the growing Latino and nonwhite American population. This admission has resulted in some stunning reversals. Staunch anti-immigrant voices, who for years have frothed at the mouth to impeach President Obama over his immigration policies, are now agreeing with Obama's position: Congress should pursue legislation designed to put undocumented immigrants on "a path to citizenship." In conservative media circles, this is known as "amnesty."
On his Thursday radio show, Hannity admitted as much. After noting how lopsided the Latino vote turned out to be -- 71 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama as opposed to 27 who favored Romney -- Hannity repudiated what has characterized the conservative position on immigration, saying:
HANNITY: We've got to get rid of the immigration issue altogether. It's simple for me to fix it. I think you control the border first. You create a pathway for those people that are here. You don't say you've gotta go home. And that is a position that I've evolved on.
On Geraldo Rivera's radio show, after saying Republicans shouldn't make overtures to African-American voters, O'Reilly claimed:
O'REILLY: Hispanic American voters, generally speaking, are conservative socially. They don't believe in gay marriage. They're not libertines. They're not people looking for a handout. They're not that -- generally speaking. They're traditional, family oriented people who are faith-based most of them. And they're Catholics. That's where the Republican Party has to start.
From the November 8 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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From the November 7 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Wall Street Journal columnist Karl Rove created a dishonest alternate reality in order to portray President Obama as an impediment to achieving compromise and enacting legislation. In the real world, Republican obstructionism is responsible for the failure to reach compromise on the issues Rove identified.
Republican Obstruction Blocked Immigration Reform. In his column, Rove dishonestly suggested Obama was to blame for not "passing immigration reform." But Obama has tried to pass immigration reform, while Republicans have repeatedly blocked such attempts. In 2007, the Senate voted on comprehensive immigration reform. Obama, who was a senator at the time, voted for the measure. But Republicans blocked it. Reuters explained:
[T]he president was unable to overcome fierce opposition from fellow Republicans who said it was an amnesty that rewarded illegal immigrants. A majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives also opposed the Senate bill.
The GOP continued this anti-immigration reform obstruction after Obama became president. In 2010, Senate Republicans blocked Obama's attempt to pass the DREAM Act -- which would allow certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to stay. The DREAM Act passed the House. But as ABC News reported, the Republicans killed the DREAM Act in the Senate when it "failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster."
Republicans Refused To Negotiate On The Federal Deficit. Rove dishonestly suggested Obama was to blame for not crafting a bipartisan agreement on spending, taxes, and the federal deficit, by endorsing Bowles-Simpson fiscal policy recommendations and working with "that bright young Republican budget wizard from Wisconsin, [Rep.] Paul Ryan [R-WI]" to get the recommendations passed. In reality, the attempt to reach a compromise on fiscal policies fell victim to Republican obstruction.
In fact Bloomberg noted that GOP vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan "was a pivotal figure in killing" Bowles-Simpson. In a January 7, 2011, blog post, The Economist wrote that "the opposition by Mr Ryan and his two fellow House Republicans more or less guaranteed the plan would die." According to Bloomberg Businessweek, one of the commission members, former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg speculated that the objection by House Republicans was based on the revenue generating parts of the plan that were, in their minds, "tantamount to a tax increase."
Republican candidates for president cheered on these refusals to compromise on fiscal policy. Indeed, during the August 11, 2011, Republican presidential debate, all the participating candidates opposed any measure that would raise taxes, as a way to close the deficit, even if for every one dollar in new revenue collected ten dollars was cut from the federal budget.
While guest hosting The O'Reilly Factor on August 24, Monica Crowley praised SB 1070 architect Kris Kobach's filing suit against the Obama administration's "deferred action" policy, which allows young undocumented immigrants to temporarily remain in the United States. But Crowley failed to mention that the deportation policy is the continuation of long-standing prosecutorial discretion, and also neglected to report the lawsuit's basic procedural flaws.
Instead, Crowley ignored the weaknesses of the lawsuit and alleged the policy is "illegal," accused the administration of acting "extra-constitutionally," and finally commended Kobach for "fighting the good fight" against a "banana republic."
The lawsuit was filed in district court by Kobach on August 23 on behalf of 10 disgruntled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and is underwritten by controversial "immigration-restriction" group NumbersUSA, despite the Supreme Court's recent reminder that "[a] principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials." Nevertheless, the lawsuit challenges the administration's policy of deferred action in deportation proceedings for undocumented youth - a continuation of standard immigration discretion also practiced by George W. Bush - and further undermines its credibility through its choice of plaintiffs.