Fox trumpets Limbaugh's baseless accusation that Obama has "something" against "cops"

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

Following the passage of the Arizona immigration bill, Fox News amplified Rush Limbaugh's accusation that President Obama's concern about Arizona's immigration bill leading to racial profiling was taking "a shot ... at the cops" by asking if Obama has "something against cops." In fact, Obama's concerns over the legislation are shared by many law enforcement officials, and many experts and Fox News figures have confirmed that racial profiling is a likely result of the bill.

Limbaugh, Fox, distort Obama's concern over racial profiling to claim he is "attack[ing] the police"

Limbaugh: "This is a shot, make no mistake about it, ladies and genlemen, at the cops." On the April 28 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh claimed that "Barack Obama, ladies and gentlemen, I don't know -- he's got something in for the cops, there's no question" and quoted Obama saying of the Arizona immigration law: "[S]uddenly if you don't have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you're going to be harassed, that's something that could potentially happen, I -- that's not the right way to go." Limbaugh responded: "So that's his argument, to create a phony hypothetical where families getting ice cream are hassled by stupid, bigoted policemen. ... So Obama's now not satisfied with just attacking a state. He has to attack their police as well. I'll tell you what's poorly conceived here is Obama's views on the cops. He thinks all these cops are going to act stupidly. This is an outrageous answer; this is an outrageous thing." Limbaugh concluded, "Once again, this is a shot, make no mistake about it, ladies and gentlemen, at the cops."

Fox Nation: "Does Obama Have Something Against Cops?" On April 29, Fox Nation posted a Newsmax article about Limbaugh's comments under the headline, "Does Obama Have Something Against Cops?" From the Fox Nation:

Fox & Friends: "Lack of Faith in Law Enforcement?" On the April 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson teased an upcoming panel discussion by saying, "Rush Limbaugh says that Obama is throwing cops under the bus." During the following discussion, Carlson summarized Obama's remarks by saying, "President Obama criticized Arizona's new immigration law, even suggesting it could lead to police harassment," and asked, "Is the president jumping to conclusions when it comes to possible abuse of power?" After guest Tamara Holder defended Obama's remarks by saying: "This is a way of racial profiling. Whatever you want to say, this is a way of finding any Mexican and determining whether or not they are here illegally. And that's just the way that this law is going to work," Carlson responded, "You actually believe the police are going to make it their -- just tunnel vision -- I'm out to find a Mexican today?" During the segment, on-screen text said, "Lack of Faith in Law Enforcement? Assumptions Made Over Abuse of Power":

But many law enforcement officials have also expressed this concern and others over the bill

Time: "Arizona Law Enforcement Split on Immigration Crackdown." An April 30 Time magazine article noted that while some law enforcement officers in Arizona support the bill, "[T]he association of police chiefs from around the state does have serious objections to SB1070, the controversial new state law that requires police to ask for papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally." One of the law enforcement officials opposed to the bill was "Chief John Harris of Sahuarita, Ariz., who is the current president of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police," who "said that he opposed the law before Governor Jan Brewer signed it, and still does today. He listed his objections: Immigration has traditionally been a federal issue, and they already have 'manpower and budget issues' that will only get worse under the law. 'If we then arrest [illegals] on state charges, who will pay?' he asked. He's also concerned that victims may not report crimes to his officers. And finally, the threat of lawsuits -- any citizen may sue a police officer or department for impeding the enforcement of immigration laws -- makes him leery."

Mesa Police chief: SB 1070 would require "people to prove their innocence" before being charged with a crime. The Arizona Republic reported that Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead said the legislation "would essentially require 'people to prove their innocence' before even charged with a crime." He also said he was concerned over the potential costs to enforce the law.

AZ Republic: Police chiefs said officers "will have to make immigration enforcement their first priority over every other type of crime." The Arizona Republic reported on April 22 that SB 1070 "requires local law-enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law to the fullest extent permitted by federal law" and "would allow Arizonans to sue agencies if they don't believe an agency is complying with the law." The article further reported:

Police chiefs who oppose the bill have said these requirements will mean officers will have to make immigration enforcement their first priority over every other type of crime.

They may have to wait around for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to verify a suspect's immigration status and possibly transport a suspect to jail to be held until that status can be determined.

The chiefs also say the bill offers no additional funding to train officers in how to judge reasonable suspicion or otherwise enforce federal laws.

"This will further impact police departments already lacking the resources to do their basic job," said former Mesa Police Chief George Gascón, who now leads the San Francisco Police Department.

Arizona police chiefs: SB 1070 interferes with police work. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police stated that SB 1070 "will negatively affect the ability of law enforcement agencies across the state to fulfill their many responsibilities in a timely manner."

Yuma County sheriff: "We don't have enough people to be doing what we're supposed to be doing anyway." Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden opposed the passage of SB 1070, citing the cost of detaining individuals and a " '12 percent reduction in force availability' for each incident, where a deputy would be tied up investigating someone's immigration status," according to a Phoenix New Times post. The post further reported that Ogden stated, "[I]f you start spending less time on property crimes and personal crimes, you don't want to do that":

"We're like everybody else," explained Ogden, who's in his fourth term as Yuma County Sheriff. "We don't have enough people to be doing what we're supposed to be doing anyway. But you have to prioritize. And if you start spending less time on property crimes and personal crimes, you don't want to do that."

Ogden was also concerned with another provision of the Pearce legislation that would grant a private right of action for a citizen to sue a law enforcement agency if that person believes that the agency is not pursuing immigration violations to "the full extent permitted by federal law."

Colorado Springs chief: Bill could delay officers' response to "shots-fired call." The Arizona Republic reported that Colorado Springs Chief Richard Myers "said Arizona residents may not like what that enforcement looks like" and quoted him saying, "If I have a shots-fired call or the potential to stop someone who might be checked for documented status, I'm going to do that before I respond to shots fired because I won't get sued if don't respond to shots fired."

Sacramento Police chief: The law "essentially legislates racial profiling. ... No other law in the country allows citizens to sue a government agency for not arresting enough people." The San Francisco Chronicle reported on April 22 that former Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas said the bill "essentially legislates racial profiling, putting police in the middle of the train tracks to face an onslaught of civil-rights violations lawsuits." Venegas further stated, "No other law in the country allows citizens to sue a government agency for not arresting enough people."

Police union rep: SB 1070 "could eat up a lot of manpower and cost a lot of money." The (Phoenix) East Valley Tribune reported that "[p]olice unions representing the rank-and-file officers, although not opposed to the bill, believe it could create manpower challenges during a time of budget reductions and are also concerned about potential lawsuits the law could bring, according to Bryan Soller, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Mesa Lodge's No. 9, which represents 600 officers." The article further quoted Soller as saying: "If we're getting hammered with calls, is a misdemeanor (trespassing by an illegal immigrant) more important than a stabbing or shooting? ... No. The problem with this law is that it's an unfunded mandate and could eat up a lot of manpower and cost a lot of money."

Major Cities Chiefs Association: AZ law could harm "trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities." USA Today reported that San Jose Police Chief Robert Davis, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, "said the group stands by its 2006 policy that 'immigration enforcement by local police would likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities.' "

Former Mesa Police chief: "People will be more hesitant to report crimes." The Arizona Republic reported that former Mesa Police Chief George Gascón "said the bill also will have 'catastrophic impacts on community policing.' " The report further quoted Gascon as stating, "People will be more hesitant to report crimes, and that will create some very, very tough circumstances for local police in dealing with crime issues in areas heavily visited by people here from other countries."

Many other experts share Obama's concern regarding the potential for profiling

U.S. Civil Rights commissioner: SB 1070 targets people "simply because of their resemblance to other individuals who may be in the country illegally." Michael Yaki, attorney and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, wrote on April 26:

What this law does, without question, is target individuals for special treatment by law enforcement simply because of their resemblance to other individuals who may be in the country illegally. It attempts to skirt the federal pre-emption argument by simplying putting more people into the potential federal holding pen and letting ICE sort it all out. But the law, by its very wording, cannot distinguish between an American, a green card holder, and an undocumented person without first subjecting that person to a wholly different level and standard of identification and presumption of guilt.

James Doty: New law is "vulnerable to the argument that it essentially criminalizes walking while Hispanic." Lawyer James Doty wrote on April 26 that "no one has come up" with an answer to the question, "What do illegal immigrants look like?" that doesn't invoke ethnicity. Doty further wrote: "The new law, on its face, doesn't make racial distinctions, but its supporters haven't articulated any other grounds for suspecting that someone is an unlawful resident. It is, therefore, vulnerable to the argument that it essentially criminalizes walking while Hispanic," and that "the law seems to require that officers demand documentation from suspected aliens based on mere hunches -- a clear violation of the Constitution."

ACLU of Arizona: "To avoid arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their 'papers' at all times." The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona stated on April 23 that SB 1070 "creates new immigration crimes and penalties inconsistent with those in federal law, asserts sweeping authority to detain and transport persons suspected of violating civil immigration laws and prohibits speech and other expressive activity by persons seeking work." ACLU of Arizona further stated that the law "requires police agencies across Arizona to investigate the immigration status of every person they come across whom they have 'reasonable suspicion' to believe is in the country unlawfully. To avoid arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their 'papers' at all times."

AILA executive director: SB 1070 effectively "compels law enforcement to conduct racial profiling of all people in the state, including U.S. citizens." In an April 15 statement, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said:

The Arizona bill would require state law enforcement agents to question individuals about their immigration status if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" that they are undocumented. An individual who cannot provide proof of legal status would be subject to arrest. According to [AILA executive director Crystal] Williams, "In effect, the act compels law enforcement to conduct racial profiling of all people in the state, including U.S. citizens. People will be questioned and detained for looking foreign.

University of Arizona law professor: "If you look Mexican or Hispanic or Asian or Black, then you should carry ID." University of Arizona law professor Gabriel Chin responded to the question, "Do I need to have my ID card on me at all times in case an officer suspects I'm in the country illegally?" by stating:

If the person was born in Mexico and doesn't have satisfactory identification, I would think there is probable cause to arrest that person for violation of this section: There is evidence they are not a U.S. citizen (foreign birth), they do not have any evidence they are authorized to live in the United States. ... I would say the answer is: If you look Mexican or Hispanic or Asian or Black, then you should carry ID because there's already some evidence that you could fall into this category.

When asked, "What constitutes 'reasonable suspicion' that a person might be in the country illegally?" Chin stated:

If police see someone speaking Spanish, who appears to be Mexican, is in a Mexican neighborhood, they know from other situations this is a neighborhood where a high number of people are undocumented, that certainly looks like a basis to inquire.

Many Fox News figures have also admitted the law leads to racial profiling

Crowder: "You're not looking for a blond-haired, blue-eyed Swede most of the time." During the April 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News contributor Steven Crowder said that there's racial profiling in the law and, "I don't think there's really anything wrong as far as racial profiling, stopping people who are coming in illegally. I mean, you're not looking for a blond-haired, blue-eyed Swede most of the time." Crowder claimed, "It's a brilliant move from Obama politically because he's promised all these entitlements and he wants to make sure this huge voting bloc knows that they're going to get some gimmes as well."

Gutfeld: Racial profiling a no-brainer. On the April 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Red Eye host Greg Gutfeld said of the law: "A lot of the critics are saying this is racial profiling. Duh! They're coming from another country. That's what you do. You have to look at them and see who they are before you know they're legal or illegal. I don't think that's a fair criticism."

Gallagher dismisses racial profiling concerns. On the April 23 edition of his Salem Radio program, radio host and Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, "Sign it, baby, sign it," and that the Arizona Legislature is his "new hero." After Wallace noted concerns about civil liberties, Gallagher said that "it's racial profiling, to be sure, cops know if there's a van full of dark-skinned men with lawnmowers packed into the back of a pick-up truck ... that's what they're talking about."

Hume defends profiling: "Some people are going to have to endure inconvenience as opposed to everybody." On the April 19 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume appeared to dismiss concerns about racial profiling, stating: "If it's an effective law enforcement technique done in good faith, people may have to endure some inconvenience. What we're saying here is that some people are going to have endure inconvenience, as opposed to everybody having to endure it."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.