On the February 10 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump falsely claimed that undocumented immigrants "may or may not" have the right to a court hearing before a judge before being deported. In fact, undocumented immigrants have the right to due process, a constitutional issue settled by the Supreme Court "as far back as 1896." Trump's claim echoes right-wing media personalities like Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, who also have challenged this notion.
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The Donald Trump campaign is continuing its courtship of Alex Jones, with one senior adviser hailing the leading conspiracy theorist for being "on top" of immigration. Jones and his website Infowars.com believe immigrants are "an invading army under the control of the New World Order and are being used to collapse and destroy the world's economy" through crime, disease, and poverty.
In a February 8 interview with Infowars.com, Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller praised Jones and Infowars for having "been on top of ... the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and on the immigration issue." Miller then repeatedly pitched Trump to Jones' audience, telling them that "if you want to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, if you want to close the border, if you want to protect American jobs and wages, then you have to support Donald J. Trump."
After Infowars reporter Richard Reeves warned that the GOP might try "stacking that delegation" at July's nominating convention in Cleveland with "GOP hardline establishment folks," Miller responded with a get out the vote pitch for Trump.
"The easiest thing to do if we want to have Donald J. Trump be our nominee is to show up and vote tomorrow in New Hampshire and then to vote in South Carolina and all across this country," Miller said. "And that will guarantee, I assure you, that Donald J. Trump will be the Republican nominee."
Reeves responded by urging Jones' audience to "get to your precinct conventions and precinct caucuses 'cause that's the road to Cleveland."
Miller is a former top aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who joined the Trump campaign in January. He worked with Sessions to oppose immigration reform and, according to the Washington Post, "When Sessions and Trump began to build a relationship last year, he asked Miller to work with Trump's campaign as it thought through its immigration position. That experience laid the groundwork for Miller's hire."
Jones is a well-known conspiracy theorist and one of the more extreme media personalities in the country. He believes the government was behind the 9/11 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and the mass shootings in Aurora, Sandy Hook and Tucson (among others). He and his website have repeatedly suggested that the San Bernardino shooting was a "false flag." Jones ultimately believes that a cabal of secretive global elites is working behind the scenes to, in the words of one of his films, "exterminate 80% of the world's population, while enabling the 'elites' to live forever with the aid of advanced technology."
Infowars is a cesspool of anti-immigrant conspiracy theories. Jones' Infowars YouTube page contains the following show segment descriptions about immigrants:
Donald Trump and his supporters have repeatedly attempted to win over Jones and his audience. The New Hampshire primary winner appeared on his program in December and praised Jones as having an "amazing" reputation and promised to "not let you down." In a January, Trump called him "a nice guy." Roger Stone, a former paid policy adviser to the Trump campaign who recently launched a pro-Trump super PAC, has regularly appeared on Jones' program to promote Trump's candidacy.
Trump is the only presidential contender who engages with Jones and his fringe ideology. The radio host has been a booster of Trump, saying that "we have to defend him because the ideas he's putting out in general are very good." (Jones has a long relationship with former candidate Rand Paul, who appeared on Jones' show before dropping out.)
From Miller's interview with Alex Jones' Infowars.com:
RICHARD REEVES: Richard Reeves with Infowars.com at the Red Arrow Diner with Steve Miller. What's your position with the Trump campaign, again?
MILLER: I'm the senior policy adviser.
REEVES: So as senior policy adviser, what are you really looking -- what are the top issues that you're working on?
MILLER: Well two of the biggest ones are trade and immigration and that's a lot of what this election comes down to. And of course, Alex Jones and Infowars have been on top of this for a long time, both on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and on the immigration issue and all of the different facets of it. So it's really great to be talking with you today. But my short message for your audience would be that if you want to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, if you want to close the border, if you want to protect American jobs and wages, then you have to support Donald J. Trump. He's the only person who's been clear and consistent and firm on these issues and who isn't relying on large special interests and donors.
REEVES: Well he clearly does appear to be the most serious candidate on that issue and I'm convinced that he will actually get Mexico to even pay for the wall as well, right?
MILLER: There's no doubt that he will.
MILLER: The easiest thing to do if we want to have Donald J. Trump be our nominee is to show up and vote tomorrow in New Hampshire and then to vote in South Carolina and all across this country and that will guarantee, I assure you, that Donald J. Trump will be the Republican nominee and millions and millions of people are joining this movement and it's going to make truly make America great again.
REEVES: And beyond that folks, get to your precinct conventions and precinct caucuses 'cause that's the road to Cleveland. Steve Miller, thank you so much.
MILLER: Thank you, great to be here.
From the February 10 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the February 10 edition of CNN's New Day:
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From the February 8 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From February 4 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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The press wrote this script a very long time ago: Senator Marco Rubio could become the favored establishment candidate in the Republican Party primary as party elites search for answers to the insurgent campaigns of outsiders Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.
That note has been hit especially hard in the press since the Trump circus arrived on the campaign trail last summer: The GOP is hoping for a tempered, pragmatic savior who can appeal to mainstream voters and help Republicans avoid disaster come November. ("Allowing Trump to have its nomination would saddle Republicans with the worst nominee any party has had in decades," wrote Jonathan Chait at New York.)
Rubio's third-place finish in the Iowa caucus has only cemented that claim, with the press essentially anointing him the Iowa winner. He "may have won the establishment credibility he needs to stay near the top of the Republican presidential race for the long-term," according to CNN. Reuters agreed, crowning "Florida Senator Marco Rubio and the Republican establishment" as one of the big Iowa winners on the GOP side.
But what happens when the facts change but the script does not? What happens when a so-called Establishment candidate like Rubio starts espousing ugly, divisive rhetoric that's synonymous with the darker regions of Fox News and the Republican Party? What happens when he adopts radical policy positions that just years ago would have been seen as borderline even for AM talk radio? (i.e. Outlawing abortions even for victims of rape and incest.)
In other words, what happens when Rubio takes a very hard right turn and obliterates meaningful differences between himself and Trump? Between himself and Cruz? Don't calming, feel-good code words like Establishment then become irrelevant and misleading?
I don't think there's any doubt that, overall, Rubio has benefited from very generous press coverage. Whether it's the sweeping conclusion that he's a "charismatic" communicator, the media happily running with his campaign's spin that it essentially won in Iowa by finishing third, or the press' steadfast refusal to delve deeply into the senator's questionable finances, watching Rubio at the Republican debate last year attack the press as a liberal super PAC for Democrats was amusing. The truth is, pundits seem to revere him.
One way that affection is displayed is to ignore the substance of Rubio's campaign; to whitewash the extremism now at the base of his pitch. To acknowledge that Rubio occupies the far reaches of the political spectrum, and that he's actually sprinted there in recent months, taints the portrait the press likes to paint of him: establishment savior.
To me, establishment sounds like a placeholder for "moderate." And in the case of Rubio, that's a complete myth.
By placing the Florida senator in that wider establishment lane, pundits and reporters seem to suggest that he's somehow part of a pragmatic Republican wing (does that even exist?) that practices common sense conservatism; that he's separate and above those outlier disrupters like Trump and Cruz who embrace more political chaos.
This week, a New York Times dispatch placed Rubio outside of the Republican "hard right" that seems to be flocking to Trump. Reuters explained what distinguished Rubio from the so-called outside, even though Rubio seemed to agree with Trump and Cruz on so many issues, including their disdain for President Obama: "[Rubio] embedded his criticism within a more optimistic, inclusive message."
But just because an extremist coats his divisiveness in "optimistic" language, doesn't mean the campaign press should play along and portray him as something he's clearly not. And yet ...
Forecasting Rubio's White House chances, FiveThirtyEight recently claimed that Democratic strategists are "terrified to face Rubio in the fall." Why? Because of his establishment ability to broaden the GOP's "appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos."
"Rubio is aiming to be the GOP candidate with the establishment credibility and broad appeal needed to win in a general election, a unifier who can bring together young, moderate voters, along with conservatives and evangelicals," the Christian Science Monitor reported.
A unifier? Rubio walked away from his one stab at establishment legislating with the immigration reform bill that he, as part of the Gang of Eight, helped shepherd through Congress. But quickly finding himself out step with a rabid Republican base that's adopted anti-immigration as its defining litmus test, Rubio sprinted so far to the right on this issue that not only does he oppose his own reform proposal, he's connecting the issue to the rise of ISIS.
No unity there.
As for Rubio's potential appeal to young voters and moderates, a central part of the media's establishment narrative, the senator's increasingly right-wing agenda certainly raises doubts.
Rubio opposes expanding background checks for gun owners, even though 90 percent of Americans support the measure, as do an overwhelming majority of gun owners and even NRA members. He opposes marriage equality and "believes some kinds of businesses, like wedding photography, should be allowed to turn away gay customers." He doesn't want to increase the minimum wage (even though he thinks it's currently too low). He doesn't believe in climate change.
From PolitiFact [emphasis added]:
Rubio will support anti-abortion legislation that includes an exception for rape and incest, but he prefers that the procedure be illegal even in cases of rape and incest.
It's important to note that in terms of the "Establishment" branding, a string of recent Republican Establishment nominees for president, including Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, and George W. Bush, all agreed that allowing abortions to be legal in the case of rape and incest was the best approach. Rubio, though, has broken from that model and staked out a far more radical stance.
And when Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering America, Rubio seemed to out-flank him in the fevered swamps, at least initially. "It's not about closing down mosques," he soon told Fox News' Megyn Kelly. "It's about closing down anyplace -- whether it's a cafe, a diner, an internet site -- anyplace where radicals are being inspired." (Rubio later said Trump hadn't thought through his Muslim ban.)
Overall? "He's been Trumped," noted Peter Beinart at The Atlantic.
There may still be an establishment candidate lurking in the Republican field who can try to save the party from its own extremism, but based on the media's apparent definition of Establishment, Rubio isn't that person.
David Gregory, antiguo presentador de Meet the Press, argumentó en CNN que el candidato presidencial Republicano Marco Rubio podría "acercar a los conservadores, potencialmente, al tema migratorio", ignorando cómo Rubio ha cambiado su postura migratoria, retirando su anterior apoyo a una reforma migratoria comprensiva mientras gradualmente adopta posturas conservadoras más extremas.
Former Meet the Press host David Gregory argued on CNN that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio could "bring conservatives around, potentially, on immigration," failing to note that Rubio has changed his stance on immigration, walking back his previous support for comprehensive reform while gradually adopting extreme conservative positions.
The Huffington Post debunked Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's unsubstantiated claim that there are more undocumented immigrants in the U.S. now than there were five years ago.
During a January 31 appearance on NBC's Meet The Press, Rubio told host Chuck Todd that "we are worse off today than we were five years ago. We have more illegal immigrants here." As Huffington Post reporter Elise Foley pointed out on a February 1 article, Chuck Todd didn't press the candidate on the validity of his stats. Despite evidence that the undocumented immigrant population has been declining since 2008, Republican candidates have increasingly taken anti-immigrant stances and spouted alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric that echoes the most extreme voices on right-wing media.
Foley cited data from Pew Research Center to indicate that the undocumented "population has remained essentially stable for five years," directly contradicting Rubio's claim. She also pointed to a report from the Center for Migration Studies that demonstrates that in 2014, the undocumented population reached its lowest point since 2003 and that it has continued to decline since. Citing some of the same data, Politifact also rated Rubio's claim as false. As reported by Foley, Rubio has been using the same undocumented population estimates -- 11 million to 12 million -- for the past three years (emphasis added):
Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio paints himself as the most informed and realistic candidate when it comes to immigration reform. He spent months helping draft a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, and has spent even longer defending it.
So it seems like he should be especially aware of how many undocumented immigrants are in the U.S. -- and the fact that the number has leveled off or even decreased in recent years.
Rubio said the opposite Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"We are worse off today than we were five years ago," he told host Chuck Todd. "We have more illegal immigrants here."
Rubio wasn't pressed on where he got that information. HuffPost contacted two spokesmen for Rubio on Sunday and again Monday to see if the senator had a source for his claim that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has risen in recent years, but neither of them replied.
What he said doesn't square with most reputable studies. Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, estimated last year that there were 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. in 2014, and that the "population has remained essentially stable for five years." The number peaked in 2007 with 12.2 million undocumented immigrants, according to Pew estimates.
Center for Migration Studies, another think tank, released a report based on Census figures this month estimating there were 10.9 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as of 2014 -- the smallest the population has been since 2003. The number has been on the decline since 2008, according to the Center for Migration Studies.
Rubio has been saying for years that there are 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. -- he used that figure in 2013, the year the Senate passed its comprehensive reform bill, and has cited it during the current campaign.
Other Republicans have also said the undocumented population is larger than it is, although with more specifics. Front-runner Donald Trump said last year that there were more than 30 million people living in the U.S. without authorization -- a claim for which Politifact found no basis, other than statements from conservative columnist Ann Coulter.
From the January 29 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Prominent media figures are cheering Megyn Kelly's performance as a moderator in the January 28 Fox News Republican presidential debate as "brilliant," while lauding her for asking "the toughest questions" and"throwing fastballs." Such praise ignores the conservative myth-filled questions Kelly has a history of asking guests on her show the rest of the year when she's not in the presidential debate spotlight.
From the January 28 edition of Fox News' Republican Presidential Primary Debate:
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On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holocaust survivors warned about the demagoguery and rhetoric espoused by Donald Trump that they say echoes back to Nazi Germany -- the same rhetoric which has been sanctioned by right-wing media and praised by white nationalist media as "wonderful."
Libertarian journalist and Reason.com editor Nick Gillespie took issue with the National Review's recent "Against Trump" campaign, which attempts to characterize Donald Trump as a fake conservative. Gillespie argued that Trump "is not at odds with National Review, conservatives, or all the other Republican presidential candidates."
On January 21, the conservative magazine National Review published a special issue titled "Against Trump," in which 22 prominent conservative media figures questioned whether or not the Republican presidential frontrunner is a real conservative. According to National Review, "If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government." Several other conservative commentators reacted by lashing out at National Review, calling it "irrelevant" and "intellectual snobbery," and lamenting that the publication has "lost touch with the electorate."
In a January 25 blog post for Reason.com, Nick Gillespie explained that even though National Review published their "Against Trump" issue, "National Review's editors might at least acknowledge that they helped to create the opportunity [for Trump] in the first place." Gillespie added that Trump's "openly hostile" positions on immigration are "completely in accord with" positions held by many conservatives, and the entire Republican presidential field, all of whom are "at odds with most of the country." Gillespie concluded his post by arguing that there is no reason to think National Review would not eventually support Trump's presidential ambitions if he succeeds in his run for the Republican nomination. From Reason.com (emphasis added):
Donald Trump's appeal among Republicans is directly related to issues and attitudes that mainstream conservatives and Republicans have been harping on for virtually all of the 21st century, if not longer. Anyone with even passing familiarity with National Review, which rarely misses an opportunity to tout its central role in the post-war conservative movement, knows that the magazine has long been extremely hostile to immigration, extremely bellicose when it comes to foreign policy and projecting American "strength" abroad, and extremely quick to attack any real and perceived slights to "American exceptionalism" (a term more often invoked than defined with any precision) while excoriating any real and perceived concessions to "political correctness."
These are exactly the grounds upon which Trump has seized the day in the Republican primary season, so if he is in fact "a philosophically unmoored political opportunist"--and I think that's a pretty fair description -- National Review's editors might at least acknowledge that they helped to create the opportunity in the first place. After all (and whatever his past affiliation), Trump isn't running in the Democratic primaries, is he? And despite the editors' claim that since Jesse Jackson entered the 1984 Democratic race "both parties have been infested by candidates who have treated the presidency as an entry-level position," the plain fact is that it's the GOP and conservatives who regularly trot out and swoon for the likes of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Herman Cain.
Let's be clear: To the extent that Trump is widely and accurately understood to be openly hostile to immigration and immigrants, especially from Mexico, he is not at odds with National Review, conservatives, or all the other Republican presidential candidates. He is completely in accord with all of them -- and they are all at odds with most of the country.
I understand and appreciate National Review's interest in dissociating itself and conservatism from Donald Trump, who just might become the nominee of the Republican Party, for which NR is an unofficial cheerleader and powerful agent of influence (before the Trump contretemps, it was going to co-host a party debate). Certainly from a libertarian perspective (a perspective which has been mostly attacked and dismissed in the pages of National Review for virtually all of its run), Trump is bad news on virtually all fronts, and especially those elements that are part and parcel of the modern conservative and National Review catechism.
But let's not pretend also that National Review won't actually support Trump should he actually become the Republican candidate.