On June 26, 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush shared his view of immigrants and Latino-Americans in a speech before the 71st National Conference of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). "Latinos come to the U.S. to seek the same dreams that have inspired millions of others: they want a better life for their children," Bush said, calling immigration "not a problem to be solved," but "the sign of a successful nation."
With campaign strategist Karl Rove "acting as his guide," Bush went on to champion "compassionate conservatism" throughout his first presidential campaign, with an unprecedented -- for the GOP -- Hispanic outreach effort as its centerpiece. To this day, no Republican candidate has come close to winning as much of the Hispanic vote as Bush did in 2000 -- (34 percent) and 2004 (44 percent).
Ten years on, George's brother Jeb has tried to strike a similarly compassionate tone on immigration in his own quest for the White House. In April, 2014 -- more than a year before he declared his candidacy -- Jeb Bush told Fox News' Shannon Bream that many immigrants who enter the United States illegally often do so as "an act of love" for their families.
In the span of a few election cycles, "compassionate conservatism" on immigration has evolved from a winning Republican campaign strategy to a major liability for GOP presidential candidates. That shift is due in large part to the growing influence of conservative media in the debate over immigration.
Though George W. Bush won two terms as a "compassionate conservative," he never succeeded in passing immigration reform in Congress. That failure was due in part to the mobilization of right-wing media, which coalesced in the wake of his 2004 re-election. "You could say that talk radio killed President Bush's attempts at immigration reform," Frank Sharry of America's Voice told The Washington Post in 2013. "They started to lurch to the right, they wanted to give Bush a bloody nose, the conservative media mobilized."
Conservative media's opposition to immigration reform, led by talk radio, has only intensified since the defeat of the Senate immigration bill Bush supported in 2007: Rush Limbaugh recently claimed that the "colonization" or "invasion" of "illegal aliens" creates a "destructive" subculture in the U.S.; Laura Ingraham said that Congress's "Hispanic Caucus" should be renamed the "Open Borders Caucus" and claimed that migrant children were spreading diseases to "public school kids across the country;" and Texas radio host Michael Berry claimed that killings by "illegal aliens" are "not a rare occurrence."
At the same time, right-wing radio hosts have worked tirelessly to pull Republican politicians to the right on immigration, often by inciting anti-Hispanic sentiment among listeners. Rush Limbaugh has told the GOP to ignore the "non-factor" Hispanic vote. Laura Ingraham told her listeners that former Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner needed to move closer to the views of the extreme right on immigration, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Chuck Grassley.
Perhaps the most extreme example of right-wing talk radio's hostility toward immigration came in August of 2015. Iowa Caucus GOP kingmaker and radio host Jan Mickelson, who has hosted several 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls on his show, proposed on-air that the state of Iowa enslave undocumented immigrants, saying, "Put up a sign that says at the end of 60 days, if you are not here with our permission, can't prove your legal status, you become property of the state. And then we start to extort or exploit or indenture your labor." Mickelson has previously said that he assumes that someone is not "here legally" if they have a Hispanic-sounding name and a history of involvement with the police.
Fox News has also become a major driver of right-wing fearmongering on immigration. The network's personalities regularly disparage immigrants as criminals and murderers and use derogatory and racist terms like "illegals" and "anchor babies" to describe undocumented immigrants. They also attack Hispanic civil rights groups and indiscriminately show stock video footage of immigrants crossing the border during on-air discussions about immigration. Fox News personalities have peddled the harmful and false stereotype that Hispanics immigrants are all criminals. As Sean Hannity once told his millions of radio listeners: "You want to talk about crime? Well what do you think -- who's coming from Latin America and Mexico? Are they rich, successful Mexicans, Nicaraguans, El Salvador residents? No! Why would they leave if they're so successful?"
Unsurprisingly, Fox's immigration coverage has been heavily influenced by the views of extreme anti-immigrant groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies - groups that Bush's former commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, named as part of the right-wing coalition that derailed immigration reform in 2007.
Conservative media's disparaging treatment of Latinos and immigration is especially problematic given the lack of positive depictions of Latinos in mainstream media. According to a study by Columbia University, news "stories about Latinos constitute less than 1% of news media coverage, and the majority of these stories feature Latinos as lawbreakers."
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and Latino Decisions found that media stereotypes in news media about Latinos fuel negative and "hostile" attitudes, making it even harder to have reasonable or compassionate conversations about immigration reform. It's no surprise, then, that talk radio and Fox News audiences also exhibit "significantly more anti-immigrant and anti-Latino affect relative to other media consumer groups."
Conservative media's harmful coverage of immigration isn't purely motivated by animus towards Latinos; it's also a product of a media economy that incentivizes media outlets to make their coverage as sensational as possible, even if that means scaring audiences with unrealistic depictions of Latino criminality. Political media often thrives by making policy disputes as high-stakes as possible. In the case of immigration, that means emphasizing the "threat" posed by immigrants to the predominantly white, older Americans who consume conservative media. As Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has pointed out, "it's a financially driven enterprise and market share matters":
"While it's conservative in its orientation, it's a financially driven enterprise and market share matters. And playing to the prejudice of their audiences or reinforcing them - as opposed to engaging in enlightened and intellectual debate - is pretty widespread." The best example, he said, is immigration reform: "Here's an area we have to deal with, we've got to come to an accommodation. But the opposition, especially of talk radio, makes that almost impossible. Who in the conservative media is arguing for some kind of comprehensive immigration reform? Almost nobody."
"Today's conservative media now shapes the agenda of the party, pushing it to the far right," writes Jackie Colmes, author of a Harvard study which examined conservative media's impact on conservative politicians. According to Colmes, the GOP's rhetoric and policy positions on immigration have largely followed conservative media's lead, despite the party's own advice about developing better relationships with Hispanics.
The shrinking divide between conservative media and GOP policy on immigration helps explain why presidential candidate Donald Trump has soared in Republican voter polls by telling wildly false and exaggerated horror stories about Mexican immigrants. Trump is essentially mirroring the fear-based, fact-free approach to immigration popularized by conservative media outlets like Fox News. "[Roger] Ailes knows that Fox made Trump, politically, and that the two are made for each other," wrote Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky. And as former Reagan administration official Bruce Bartlett told Mother Jones, "Trump is sort of the most obvious example in which Fox is exercising outside influence on the Republican electoral process. I think without Fox, he would not be running, let alone a serious candidate." Various Fox News personalities have applauded Trump's immigrant smears -- echoing years of the network's own anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Largely because of the influence of anti-immigration, right-wing media, GOP politicians are losing the space they once had to call for a more compassionate tone on immigration and towards Latinos. It's a symptom of a political landscape that's blurred the divide between profit-driven conservative infotainment -- which often plays up racist and xenophobic stereotypes about Latinos -- and mainstream Republican politics.
Rightwing media are echoing claims by the fossil fuel industry that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, President Obama's landmark climate change policy, will dramatically increase electricity bills. In reality, while the Clean Power Plan may slightly increase Americans' electric bills in the short term, multiple independent analyses support the EPA's claim that the plan will result in significantly lower electric bills once it is fully implemented.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign launch speech viciously denigrated Mexican immigrants and strongly split conservative media figures on his candidacy. While some argue Trump is a "rodeo clown," others think he is "saying things that need to be said." Several conservatives disagree with Trump's rhetoric but claim he's raising important issues.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove denied a negative story appearing in a new book from presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), but Cruz has now produced an email from Rove that appears to back his version of events. This is just the latest exchange in an ongoing fight between Rove and the conservative movement.
In his new book A Time For Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America, Cruz wrote that Rove tried to bury a donation President George H.W. Bush made to Cruz for his 2009 Texas attorney general campaign.
Cruz explained that Rove was "in the process of helping raise money for the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas" while "Texas donors were giving the Bushes tens of millions, including major donors who were supporting the Dallas state rep who wanted to run for attorney general." According to Cruz, those donors started "berating" Rove.
Rove denied the allegation, writing, "When Mr. Cruz and I talked in 2009, I was not raising money for the Bush Library," adding, "nor were any library donors 'berating' me."
Cruz's presidential campaign responded by releasing the details of the email exchange he had with Rove. In the email, Rove allegedly said, "[T]he distress you mention is not mine or 43 -- it is the people raising money for the library who are also [then-Texas Rep. Dan] Branch fans and will not understand why one part of the Bush family is for not-the-guy while they are raising money big bucks for library."
In the release, Cruz describes Rove's response to the story as "a straight-out falsehood" and an example of "why people are so cynical about politics, because too many people are willing to lie."
Rove's chief of staff told The Texas Tribune that Rove doesn't have a record or any recollection of the email.
Conservative radio host Mark Levin linked to the release on his Facebook page with the comment, "Ted Cruz sets the record straight with sleazy Karl Rove."
This is not Rove's first fight with the conservative movement.
In 2013, when Rove announced plans for "the Conservative Victory Project," an attempt to protect incumbent Republicans from Tea Party challengers, many in the movement condemned him.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said the group was "repulsive" and guilty of "fratricide." Levin described Rove as a "propagandist" who is "despised" by the conservative grassroots. Donald Trump called Rove "a total loser" and said "money given to him might as well be thrown down the drain." In a recent Fox appearance, Rove said Republicans should ignore Trump, who is "not a serious candidate" for president.
Michelle Malkin declared "war" against "Rove and his big government band of elites."
A year later, Media Research Center's Brent Bozell said Rove "has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda." He also urged conservatives to "make sure Karl Rove no longer has any influence on their party."
After Rove bemoaned the nomination of Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell in Delaware in 2010 (she would go on to lose the general election), conservatives pounced. Malkin described him as an "effete sore loser," Fox contributor Erick Erickson said he was "in full-on meltdown," while Rush Limbaugh said, "I've never heard Karl so animated against a Democrat as he was against Christine O'Donnell."
In 2010, Rove said that Sarah Palin appearing on a reality show would not help her in convincing voters that she was a viable presidential candidate. Palin said his comments were "quite negative and unnecessary," and Rove responded by saying he was "sorry if she took offense" but "I hope she's got a thicker skin than that." He later went on to do a negative impersonation of Palin during an interview with New York magazine:
When I bring up his statements about Palin during our interview, Rove says only that he wished he'd made his comments on Fox News instead--before going into a withering impersonation of Palin, recalling a scene from her TV show in which she's fishing.
"Did you see that?" he says, adopting a high, sniveling Palin accent: " 'Holy crap! That fish hit my thigh! It hurts!' "
"How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?" he asks, disgusted. "You know--'Holy crap, Putin said something ugly!' "
From the June 21 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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Fox News contributor Karl Rove awkwardly tried to evade his history of failing to disclose his financial and political interests in the 2014 Senate races he repeatedly discussed on Fox News Sunday, calling himself a pundit, "not a journalist."
On the May 17 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday during a discussion of ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos' charitable giving to The Clinton Foundation, host Chris Wallace said that he had "taken some criticism this week," for hosting Karl Rove on his show in 2014 to discuss Senate races he was involved in. Rove responded that he "would talk about" his involvement in Senate races, but then attempted to evade the criticism of his lack of disclosure by saying that he is "not a journalist."
WALLACE: I've taken some criticism this week because we have you on the show in 2014 and you were talking about Senate races, and you're involved in Senate races.
ROVE: And I made those, I would talk about that. In fact, full disclosure, I've contributed to the Bush presidential library. There is no foundation engaged in supporting his lifestyle, but I've given to the Bush presidential library. But I'm not a journalist, I'm a pundit, I'm a commentator, I'm someone with an opinion.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume pushed back on Rove's excuse that he is "not a journalist," stating, "Pundits are journalists too. You write a column, right?" (Rove also repeatedly used his column at The Wall Street Journal to analyze elections in 2012 that his political groups had a stake in without disclosing those ties.)
Fox News is outraged that an ABC News anchor waited to disclose charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation, despite the network's marked history of failing to disclosure its pundits' political and financial conflicts of interest.
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson:
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From the April 20 edition of Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren:
Fox News contributor Karl Rove misrepresented controversial anti-abortion language added to human trafficking legislation that is being used by Republicans to stall Loretta Lynch's confirmation to the Department of Justice, falsely claiming it was part "a forty year bipartisan agreement." In reality, the added provision would greatly expand the scope of the Hyde Amendment by restricting the use of private funds for abortion services.
President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch for Attorney General on November 8, 2014. Republicans have subsequently held Lynch's confirmation hostage for 162 days over controversial abortion language in an otherwise bipartisan human trafficking bill.
On the April 19 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor Karl Rove said Lynch's confirmation delay was rooted in Democratic efforts to repeal the "Hyde language in the trafficking bill," a measure restricting the use of federal funds for abortion services. Rove claimed Democrats were "trying to undo a 40 year bipartisan agreement that no federal funds be used for abortion," adding that they were "trying to play to the abortion crowd."
But Rove failed to explain that the language added to the bill by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is modeled after the Hyde Amendment, but would provide an unprecedented expansion, subjecting private money in the new fund created for trafficking victims to federal restrictions. This language marks the first time private money would be limited by the regulation.
As Think Progress pointed out, victims of human trafficking "often need access to abortion services because they have been subject to sexual violence, so a fund designed to help them shouldn't cut off resources related to abortion."
Now that Hillary Clinton has announced a run for the presidency, conservative media are responding with predictable ire. While most of their discussion of the former Secretary of State has remained similar over the years, before she announced this run for the presidency conservatives occasionally struck a different tone:
Research by Nicholas Rogers, Lis Power, and Hannah Groch-Begley
Fox News contributor Karl Rove is warning Republicans that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might be "happy" to get criticized over Benghazi, comparing it to how President Obama supposedly "loved" birther attacks. Rove's declaration comes after years of trying to use the 2012 attacks to bludgeon a potential Clinton presidential bid.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House committee investigating the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, told reporters earlier this week that Clinton is willing to testify before the committee. Clinton previously testified before House and Senate committees in January 2013.
Rove discussed Clinton's willingness to testify on the January 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. When asked by host Bill O'Reilly what would be Clinton's biggest weakness, Rove replied "foreign policy" and pointed to several alleged failures but did not initially mention Benghazi.
O'Reilly then noted that Clinton now "wants to testify about Benghazi and get that all clear." Rove responded that Benghazi "could be a problem" but "I'm beginning to suspect that Mrs. Clinton might have been happy to let the Benghazi thing go forward" in the same way that President Obama "loved having conservatives talk about" his birth certificate. Rove added: "She's really, if you get into, isolated, insulated from it." From the segment:
O'REILLY: All right. But you know that that's not on the minds of the American people. That's not even in the top five in the general foreign policy arena. Terrorism is but not foreign policy. And the other thing is Mrs. Clinton has said that now she wants to testify about Benghazi and get that all clear.
ROVE: Yeah, look. Benghazi could be a problem. My sense is this is sort of like potentially like President Obama. And remember how he let all this conversation go about how he was not really born in the United States of America and it took him years before he finally put it out? He loved having conservatives talk about it.
I'm beginning to suspect that Mrs. Clinton might have been happy to let the Benghazi thing go forward and the controversy to be there because she has some asbestos. She's really, if you get into, isolated, insulated from it, I don't know. But the overall picture of foreign policy is going to be difficult for her to defend the record.
Rove's statement comes after years of attempts to make Benghazi a political liability for Clinton.
This week marks the release of Florida Senator Marco Rubio's new book, American Dreams, which political observers point out "just happens to coincide with the start of the presidential election cycle."
As Rubio weighs a 2016 presidential run, his new book reportedly focuses on "outlining policy prescriptions on a range of subjects" and fearmongering about how electing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "would be a death blow to the American Dream."
Rubio's rise from Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives to U.S. Senator in the thick of a potential presidential campaign is thanks in no small part to Fox News. For years, the network has helped bolster his political career by fawning over him, including touting him as a vice presidential pick for former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Erick Erickson, the RedState.com editor who is now a contributor at the network, put Rubio on the political map when he endorsed Rubio's 2010 Senate bid at a time when the candidate was floundering in the GOP primary polls. Fox News political analyst Karl Rove also played a key role in Rubio's ascension, providing establishment support when he threw the weight of his Crossroads political groups behind Rubio's Senate candidacy.
While Rubio's immigration reform stance has since ruffled a lot of conservative feathers -- including some people on Fox -- he nonetheless has been the beneficiary of a major career boost from the conservative network.
Fox News is already helping Rubio promote his book and plug his 2016 aspirations. Rubio kicked off his book tour with a friendly appearance on Hannity the night before the book's release. Sean Hannity previewed the interview by telling viewers that Rubio "is looking, well, awfully presidential these days with the release of a brand new book that's just out today, American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone."
Below is a post first published by Media Matters in 2013 highlighting Fox News' history of cheerleading for Rubio.
In an extraordinary and at-times comical about-face, Fox News has ushered in the New Year by joining forces with Republicans to denounce President Obama for obstructing Congress and standing in the way of legislative accomplishments.
The beauty of the Fox performance is that hardly anybody breaks character by dipping into reality and acknowledging, 'Oh by the way, Republicans did just spend the last six years blocking every conceivable Obama initiative.' Instead, the script is adhered to with stoic loyalty and the meme marches on: The Republican Congress is eager and willing to get the job done if only Obama would act! It's an amazingly disciplined, although thoroughly oddball, propaganda performance.
"There's new energy and renewed vigor on the Hill to get something done," Fox's Kimberly Guilfoyle announced on The Five. "But what's really going to poison the well is Obama with the pen. If he's going to sit there and be an obstructionist, and uses pen to be -- so it's really going to put -- you know, a drain on kind of any energy working on bipartisan things together."
Host Megyn Kelly was concerned last week that Obama's stated opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline might represent a "thumb in the eye" to the new Republican-controlled Senate. And Fox contributor Karl Rove advised Obama that if he vetoes Republican bills, "it's going to simply build the image of him as being obstructionist. That's not going to be healthy for his last two years in office."
The beauty of the Rove comment was that it was immediately followed by this observation from host Greta Van Susteren about Obama: "Many Republicans are right in his face saying they want to repeal Obamacare."
And she's right. Republicans have exerted unprecedented time and energy to try to undo Obama's landmark legislation from his first term. Republicans, cheered on by Fox News and the right-wing media, have waged an unrelenting political and legal war to dismantle Obamacare. And last week Van Susteren marveled that Republicans were once again right in Obama's face trying to repeal--to obstruct--Obamacare. Yet moments earlier Rove lamented Obama's supposed obstructionist streak? Both talkers pretended to be clueless about the glaring contradiction.
Meanwhile, Fox has welcomed a parade of Republicans who suddenly can't wait to legislate and who condemn the Democrats' obstructionist streak. "The American people are tired of the gridlock and the hyper-partisan environment here in Washington," Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) told Fox News on January 7. "The election sent a very clear message, the people want to see the congress working together again."
This is almost two funny for words. Not the part about Americans wanting politicians to work together to get things done. (They definitely do.) But the idea that the midterm elections sent Congress and the White House a prescient and unprecedented memo: Work together. Because I'm pretty sure that by rewarding Obama with electoral landslide victories in 2008 and 2012, voters also "sent a very clear message."
Fox News contributor and Republican strategist Karl Rove attempted to deflect attention from the latest ethical controversy facing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie by reviving a false smear of Hillary Clinton that was debunked years ago.
Christie's appearance at a Dallas Cowboys game as a guest of owner Jerry Jones in his personal suite is "proving to be controversial." As reported by The Washington Post Christie flew to Dallas and accepted the ticket to the game at the expense of the Cowboys' owner, who just so happens to have a business relationship with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey." Christie's NFL experience may have been worth more than $100,000, and "his acceptance of a gift from a business owner with ties to the Port Authority" raises concerns about possible conflicts of interest in the governor's private and political life.
As The Wall Street Journal reported, Jones is a direct investor in a deal with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey worth $875 million. Jones is a partial owner of Legends Hospitality, the company recently selected to operate the observation deck of the One World Trade Center, operated by the Port Authority which is jointly controlled by Christie. As David Sirota of the International Business Times, points out, the deal is linked to support from Governor Christie:
Less than two years before Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paid for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's tickets and travel to NFL games, government documents show Christie personally pushed the Port Authority to approve a lucrative contract for a firm part-owned by Jones. Christie nonetheless accepted the gifts from Jones, despite New Jersey ethics rules barring gifts to public officials from persons or entities that those officials "deal with, contact, or regulate in the course of official business."
On March 19, 2013, Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a press release announcing their selection of Legends Hospitality LLC to operate the observation deck on the top floor of One World Trade Center. The next day, the Port Authority board - which is appointed by Christie and Cuomo -- specifically cited the governors' announcement in voting to approve the contract for the company, which is jointly owned by the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and Checketts Partners Investment Fund.
On the January 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum asked Rove whether he believed the incident to be a "problem" for the governor. Dismissing the incident as "a minor thing," Rove downgraded the scandal to a simple issue of what team Christie was rooting for, which he then contrasted with Hillary Clinton, whom Rove falsely claimed "became a New York Yankees fan when she was running for the Senate in New York." Christie, Rove claimed, "has been a lifelong fan of the Cowboys."
The claim that Clinton was not a Yankees fan until her campaign for the United States Senate is not supported by the evidence. In fact, Clinton's 2003 autobiography, "Living History," contains a photograph of her wearing a Yankees cap in 1992 -- eight years before she ran for the Senate. And a September 12, 1994 Washington Post article outlined Clinton's lifelong affinity for the New York baseball team.