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Fox News’ Chris Wallace, moderator of the last presidential debate, failed to generate a meaningful discussion on immigration, meaning audiences “learn[ed] nothing new,” according to Univision. Instead, the moderator provided another platform for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant bashing while failing to dig deeper into the serious consequences immigration policies have on millions of people in the United States.
Wallace initiated the discussion around immigration by stating the positions that both of the candidates have made known to the public throughout the campaign and then asking each, “Why are you right and your opponent wrong?”
During Univision’s post-debate analysis, commentators took issue with the immigration segment because audiences “learn[ed] nothing new” even though many had been clamoring for a meaningful discussion of the topic leading up to the final debate. As Univision legal contributor Ezequiel Hernandez pointed out, many questions on specifics still linger: “The executive action was not discussed, judges were talked about in the previous topic, but the thousands of children who get to the border and are left waiting and who are deported until something is done were not discussed.”
Wallace stuck to his promise of being nothing more than a timekeeper and failed to dig deeper on the topic, instead framing his next query around an illegally obtained excerpt of a speech Hillary Clinton gave to a Brazilian bank where she allegedly said, “My dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.” Wallace asked Clinton, “Is that your dream? Open borders?” while ignoring both the context of Clinton’s words and Trump’s 2013 CNN op-ed in which he said, “We still have to leave borders behind and go for global unity when it comes to financial stability.” Trump had already attempted to capitalize on Clinton’s phrasing on the campaign trail, which prompted PolitiFact to analyze the claim and rate it “mostly false,” calling her immigration plan "a far cry from Trump's characterization." PolitiFact also explained that “the context of that sentence related to green energy -- and wasn’t about people immigrating to the United States.” As NBC News’ Suzanna Gamboa wrote,“The candidates seemed on the verge of a more insightful discussion” until Wallace directed the debate toward the “open borders” comment, which is when “things began to crumble.”
As predicted, Trump took advantage of Wallace’s inaction and vague immigration questioning, using it as a platform to once again smear immigrants as violent criminals, conjuring up a phrase offensive to Latino immigrants in particular: “bad hombres.”
Meanwhile, the pressing, life-altering questions many Latino immigrants have -- like the question 6-year-old Sophie Cruz suggested on OpenDebateCoalition.com, “What happens to me if you deport my parents?” -- remain unanswered.
Host Stuart Varney Falsely Claims Out-Of-Context Email Proves Clinton Campaign Is “Encouraging” Voter Fraud
Fox Business host Stuart Varney promoted the baseless conspiracy theory that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta tacitly endorsed mass voter fraud based on a misreading of the contents of stolen emails released by WikiLeaks. Varney’s story comes straight from the discredited right-wing blog The Gateway Pundit, and it marks the second time in as many weeks that the Fox host has fallen for such an obviously fabricated story on air.
In an attempt to deflect criticism of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s suggestion during the third presidential debate that he might not accept the results of the general election, Varney falsely accused Podesta of arguing in an email that “if you’ve got a [driver’s] license, you should vote … whether you’re a legal citizen or not.” Varney and guest Andrew Napolitano went on to suggest that the availability of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in California and some other states would create an environment ripe for mass voter fraud:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): Now listen to this. Maybe Trump's got a point. A WikiLeaks email from Clinton campaign manager [John] Podesta shows that if you’ve got a license, you should vote. That’s what Podesta thinks, whether you're a legal citizen or not. Here is exactly what he wrote: “On the picture ID, the one thing I have thought of in that space is that if you show up on Election Day with a driver's license with a picture, attest that you are a citizen, you have a right to vote in Federal elections.” … You’ve got to stand up and attest that you're citizen when you're not so you’ve got to lie. He’s encouraging this.
Once again, Varney is pushing a conspiracy theory from hapless right-wing blogger Jim Hoft based on an intentionally misleading interpretation of emails released by WikiLeaks.
On October 19, Hoft published a blog claiming “Podesta Says It’s OK for Illegals to Vote With Driver’s License…” in which he highlighted the exact quote cited by Varney and singled out California and other states for providing driver’s licenses to “illegal aliens.” The entire October 20 segment on Varney & Co. is based on this single blog, and Varney’s argument during the segment is pulled directly from Hoft.
Varney could have followed the link back to the original WikiLeaks source and viewed a days-long email exchange from January 28, 2015, through February 4, 2015, between individuals who would soon join Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. At no point during the email exchange, which has not been authenticated, does any participant so much as mention the word “immigrant,” much less undocumented ones. The email in question is about how responsive voters are to easing voter registration restrictions -- such as by adopting a policy of automatic voter registration when you receive a driver’s license or other state ID -- and the author simply concludes -- correctly -- that “you have a right to vote in Federal elections” if you “show up on Election Day with a drivers license ... [and] attest that you are a citizen”:
It would still be a felony for a noncitizen to vote in a federal election, regardless of whether that person has a valid driver’s license. Trump supporters have been trying and failing to turn voter fraud into a core issue of the campaign, but the problem simply does not exist at any meaningful level. Fox News even admitted as much earlier the same day with an on-screen chyron reading “Experts Say Voter Fraud Is Rare.”
Varney’s face plant on the voter fraud issue marks the second time in as many weeks that he has fallen for an laughable Gateway Pundit conspiracy on air. Last week, the Fox Business host bizarrely claimed that an unsolicited racist email sent to -- not from -- John Podesta somehow proved that Hillary Clinton was a racist.
Varney should be more careful when regurgitating talking points pulled from fringe blogs like The Gateway Pundit, particularly when their conclusions are based on documents that the U.S. intelligence community stated on October 7 were stolen via Russian state-sponsored hacking in an effort to “interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Media figures took on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s reference to immigrants as “bad hombres” who “we’re going to get … out” in the third presidential debate, explaining that the remarks are an offensive smear and stereotype of Latinos.
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Fox’s Chris Wallace is slated to moderate the third and last presidential debate in Las Vegas, NV, on October 19, and has chosen immigration as one of the topics the candidates will be discussing. Throughout his tenure Wallace has been inconsistent in the way he’s framed the issue, at times pushing culturally incompetent slurs and using the language of immigration reform opponents, and at others stepping up to criticize Trump for “demoniz[ing]” Mexican immigrants. Which Wallace will show up at the debate stage on Wednesday?
Even though immigration is the “cornerstone” of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, moderators have yet to bring it up at a general election debate. Wallace has announced he will be the first moderator to do so. While Wallace’s conflicts of interest as a moderator are a problem in their own right -- for two decades Wallace worked for Trump ally and former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, and he defended Ailes amid the sexual harassment allegations that caused Ailes to be ousted from his position running Fox News -- having him frame immigration for discussion among the candidates will also bring its own set of problems. Those issues stem from Wallace’s own inconsistencies on the topic and his promised passivity in the face of a candidate whose immigration positions have been described as “impractical,” “clueless,” and “inhumane.”
When it comes to the immigration debate, Wallace belongs to the camp of those who still use culturally insensitive slurs like “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) has long condemned that term for its dehumanizing nature, and both the term “illegals” and “illegal immigrant” violate current Associated Press journalistic standards. Wallace has also previously embraced the language of those who oppose immigration reform, asking whether creating a path to citizenship would be “amnesty.”
While moderating a Republican presidential debate in August 2015, Wallace neutrally introduced an immigration question about Kate’s Law without disclosing the active role Fox News had played in proposing and pushing for the anti-immigrant federal legislation. The proposed law, which sought to establish mandatory minimum sentences for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the country after deportation, failed to pass.
On the other hand, Wallace was critical of Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric against Mexican immigrants during a June 2015 appearance on KFTK’s Allman in the Morning, taking a more compassionate stance by saying it’s not “right” to “demonize a group of people”:
CHRIS WALLACE: I vastly prefer what Jeb Bush -- and I’m not in the tank to Jeb Bush on this, but I vastly prefer what he's saying, which is, which I think is the truth, which is that people come to this country -- and I'm not saying that they should. I mean, a great country has to be able to defend its borders, but people don't come to the United States because they're criminals. I think most people come to the United States because they think they'll be able to provide for their families and have better lives, and to demonize a group of people is -- I don't think it's right.
Many Latinos in the media have been clamoring for a substantive discussion about immigration during the presidential debates, but given Wallace’s announcement that he won’t be pushing back on candidates while moderating, the stage on Wednesday night might just be another platform for Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace has selected “Debt and entitlements,” “Immigration,” “Economy,” “Supreme Court,” “Foreign hot spots,” and “Fitness to be President” as the topics for the final presidential debate, which he will moderate on October 19. But the fact that neither “the environment” nor “energy” are among the topics would not excuse Wallace if he fails to ask a question about climate change.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing our country and the planet, and it’s far more than strictly an environmental or energy issue. As Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican Governor of New Jersey who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, has said, climate change “has very serious implications for our country from a national security point of view, from an economic point of view and a health point of view.”
The nonpartisan Open Debate Coalition recently launched a petition urging Wallace to ask the questions on the coalition’s website that have received the most votes from the public. A question about how the presidential candidates would address climate change currently has the fourth-most votes, trailing only two questions about guns and one about Social Security.
If Wallace refuses to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump about climate change, it will mark the culmination of a stunning media failure. It would mean that presidential debate moderators failed to address climate change in two consecutive election cycles, after climate questions were asked in two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate in 2008. Even worse, it would mean that Trump avoids fielding a single debate question on climate change during the entire presidential campaign, spanning 14 primary and general election debates over the last 14 months.
Climate change has far-reaching impacts and ramifications, as Whitman explained, so there are many ways Wallace could weave it into most -- if not all -- of the topics he’s selected. Here are five questions that he could ask:
Possible Debate Question: Studies show that climate change worsened the extreme drought in Syria that contributed to the Syrian refugee crisis, and that the effects of climate change on crop yields will drive millions of Mexicans to seek entry into the United States in the coming decades. Will you incorporate climate change into your immigration policies, and if so, how?
Possible Debate Question: A 2016 survey of 750 top economists found that climate change is now the single greatest threat to the global economy. What will you do to protect our economy from the effects of climate change?
Topic: Supreme Court
Possible Debate Question: Following a 2007 Supreme Court ruling and a scientific assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA is legally required to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change under the Clean Air Act. Will you implement the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the EPA’s emissions reduction strategy, and if not, how will your administration fulfill the Supreme Court’s mandate to cut greenhouse gas pollution?
Topic: Foreign Hot Spots
Possible Debate Question: The Pentagon has determined that climate change will “aggravate existing problems -- such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions -- that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries.” To what extent do you believe climate-related risks should be integrated into military planning?
Topic: Fitness To Be President
Possible Debate Question: The scientific community is nearly unanimous in saying that global warming is happening and caused by burning fossil fuels, yet many politicians refuse to acknowledge this is the case. Will you listen to the scientists on climate change, and do you believe that those who refuse to do so are unfit for our nation’s highest office?
Fox’s Stuart Varney Thinks It’s “A Big Deal” That Someone Sent Unsolicited Racist Emails To Clinton’s Campaign Chair
Right-wing radio host and political commentator Stacy Washington used Fox Business’ Varney & Co. to push a debunked lie about the contents of stolen emails released by WikiLeaks in an attempt to paint Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as a racist.
Washington’s baseless allegation originated with an October 8 post by discredited right-wing blogger Jim Hoft, who claimed in a post titled “WIKILEAKS BOMBSHELL: Racist Hillary Trashes African Americans” that a trove of stolen emails to and from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta revealed the Democratic nominee to be a bigot. The blog links back to the WikiLeaks document in full, but it highlights only a single out-of-context section in which an undisclosed author claims African and Muslim immigrants, among others, are less “successful” than others “irrespective of circumstances.” From Hoft’s The Gateway Pundit:
Hoft falsely claimed that the author of the racist email is Hillary Clinton, but clicking on the link to WikiLeaks clearly shows that the author was an unidentified person using the Netherlands-based email address firstname.lastname@example.org. On February 21, the user sent this unsolicited racist email to Podesta’s publicly listed email address at the Georgetown University Law Center, along with at least two dozen seemingly random reporters and bloggers. The email is clearly racist, but it was also not written or solicited by Podesta, much less by Clinton. All of these facts were outlined very clearly in an October 11 blog post by Wonkette publisher Rebecca Schoenkopf, who described receiving similar emails herself “from loons” (emphasis original):
The super-racist email was from “email@example.com.” It sent screeds to Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta and a shitload of HuffPo bloggers. (Really, it was spam TO John Podesta. He’s in the “to” field! He did not send it! He is also not from the Netherlands!) If you check the tipline at wonkette.com, you will see a lot of emails just like it! From loons!
The obvious falsity of Hoft’s claims was not enough to stop Washington from making the case that the email proves Hillary Clinton is “bigoted” against the African-American community. During the October 13 edition of Fox Business’ flagship morning news program, Washington falsely claimed Clinton “actually emailed people saying that blacks aren’t good immigrants.” Host Stuart Varney agreed, wondering aloud why “a big deal” wasn’t made out of this transparent falsification of the stolen emails’ contents.
Watch the entire spectacle here:
STACY WASHINGTON: [Clinton] also said in the WikiLeaks reports that -- of her emails -- that she actually emailed people saying that blacks aren’t good immigrants, because no matter what country they emigrate into, they don't do well.
STUART VARNEY (HOST): I saw that. I thought a big deal would be made of that because you don't say things like that. But that’s what was said. I thought it would be a headline, but it wasn't. Last 20 seconds to you, Stacy.
WASHINGTON: You know, Stuart, it’s not true. If you look at Haitians, and people from the actual continent of Africa -- the many nations there -- they do extraordinarily well here in the United States. Her comments are those of someone who is bigoted. Everything she accuses others of, it’s really her.
VARNEY: Stacy Washington, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to be back on this program because we like you.
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Latinos in the media are criticizing the lack of questions in the first and second presidential debates about what was expected to be an “issue of contention”: immigration. Latino journalists have pointed out that opposition to immigration has “been a centerpiece of Donald Trump’s blustery campaign for more than a year,” yet moderators have not asked “one specific question” about the issue.
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