From the January 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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The Washington Post highlighted how Republican presidential candidates "are staying mum as an armed group has taken over part" of the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters in Oregon, even those candidates who previously championed the same cause as the protesters by criticizing federal land ownership.
On January 2, an estimated 300 protesters -- many of them armed -- took to the streets of Burns, Oregon and some eventually occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters, to protest the prosecution of ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven who were convicted on federal arson charges. The armed protesters claim to be "patriots" fighting against the "tyranny" of the federal government and plan to occupy the Refuge for "years."
Leading the protesters are three sons of Cliven Bundy who back in 2014 led a standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management over a dispute about 20 years of unpaid cattle grazing fees. During one of his daily press conference, Bundy suggested that Black Americans might be "better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things." Bundy has long been a darling of right-wing media, who launched him onto the national stage in 2014 and touted him as a defender of the Constitution. Fox News' Sean Hannity praised Bundy for having the "faith and courage" "to fight" against the government during one of the rancher's frequent appearances on the show. Infowars' Alex Jones likened Bundy to Paul Revere for "telling folks we're being overrun by an out of control tyranny." And Fox's Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano told Bill O'Reilly that Bundy "comes off looking like an American hero" in his armed standoff with the government.
In a January 3 article, Katie Zezima and David Weigel noted that the armed group in Oregon claims to be protesting over "constitutional rights, allegations of federal government overreach and individual liberties," the same issues that "have come to the fore in the GOP primary race." Meanwhile, Zezima and Weigel noticed "relative quiet from some more conservative Republican presidential candidates who had previously called for the government to release more of the land it owns." In particular, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) argued during the 2014 Bundy standoff that "an important principle was at stake":
Republican presidential candidates are staying mum as an armed group has taken over part of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon -- even those who supported the father of at least one of the group's leaders, who had his own standoff with the government in 2014, and have called for limits on federal control over Western land.
Some of the issues involved in the standoff -- constitutional rights, allegations of federal government overreach and individual liberties -- have come to the fore in the GOP primary race. And as Western states are poised to play a larger role in the contest, so has the issue of property rights in a region where the federal government controls about half of the land.
But few candidates seemed willing to wade into any of these issues Sunday as the leaders of the group said they are standing up against government overreach and are prepared to remain there for "as long as it takes." The group said it is protesting the case of two Oregon ranchers who were convicted of arson in 2012 and are scheduled to report to federal prisonMonday. The ranchers were convicted on a broad terrorism charge. Many ranchers and land users in the West lease public land.
The effort is being led by at least one son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had an armed standoff with the government in 2014 over land rights. Bundy was criticized for making racially charged remarks, leading many politicians to back away from him.
Those willing to comment on the Oregon situation quickly ruled it out of bounds.
"I know a good federal compound for Bundy and his gang: a U.S. penitentiary," tweeted John Weaver, a senior strategist for the campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
But there was relative quiet from some more conservative Republican presidential candidates who had previously called for the government to release more of the land it owns. The issue has become a larger one in the GOP primary contest as states such as Colorado, Idaho and Nevada may play a bigger role in determining a nominee in a large, fractured field.
In June, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) campaigned across Nevada calling for federal land to be transferred to states in the West.
"I understand the government owns a little bit of your land out here," Paul said in Reno. "Maybe we can rearrange that so the federal government is out of your hair."
He also met with Bundy after a campaign stop in Mesquite, Nev., something Paul disputes the details of. Bundy told The Washington Post that he and Paul spoke for 15 to 20 minutes, mostly about land rights. Bundy said members of his family were also present.
"I did get to visit with him for several minutes in private," Bundy said.
Paul did not address the standoff Sunday.
Legislators in Western states, in coordination with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, had campaigned unsuccessfully for the federal land to be sold. In his 2015 memoir "A Time for Truth," Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) described how he and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) bonded over the issue before Cruz ran for the Senate.
"There is no reason for the federal government to own huge portions of any state," Cruz recalled. "Mike pointed out to me that the value of all that federal land was roughly $14 trillion. At the time, the national debt also happened to be $14 trillion. That suggested to us an obvious and elegant solution for eliminating the debt and moving as much land as possible -- other than national parks -- into private hands."
Cruz's campaign did not comment Sunday.
In 2014, during the Bundy ranch standoff, Paul and Cruz initially argued that an important principle was at stake. Candidates Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump also have expressed sympathy or support for Bundy.
"We have seen liberty under assault from a federal government that seems hell-bent on expanding its authority over every aspect of our lives," Cruz told a conservative radio host. "It is in that context that people are viewing this battle with the federal government. We should have a federal government protecting the liberty of the citizens, not using the jackboot of authoritarianism to come against the citizens."
Paul, meanwhile, dismissed the "name calling" of Democrats who had tagged Bundy a "domestic terrorist" and said in a Fox News Channel interview that the land rights issue needed to be debated.
"There is a legitimate constitutional question here about whether the state should be in charge of endangered species or whether the federal government should be," he said.
That debate effectively paused after Bundy, who had been holding regular news conferences at the standoff site, suggested that black people had been freer as slaves than as citizens in the age of the welfare state. But within a year, after big Republican gains in the midterm elections, Bundy emerged as a lobbyist for a Nevada bill to begin studying the sale of land.Meanwhile, the issue remained a way for libertarian-friendly candidates such as Paul to appeal to Western caucus states.
"I think the more private ownership, the better," Paul told Bloomberg News last year. "Initially, when the West was being settled, it was a big revenue raiser. The last time we had no national debt was like 1835, and a big reason was the sale of land in the West."
This post has been updated for clarity.
In 2015, Fox News' three primetime hosts engaged in a smear campaign against the Black Lives Matter movement, fearmongering about the alleged threat they pose to law and order and hyping racist canards aimed at discrediting the movement's calls for justice.
The Black Lives Matter movement -- which emerged after the 2013 shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin -- became a regular news fixture in 2015 following the high-profile deaths of several unarmed black civilians at the hands of police officers. The movement brought national attention to the issues of police brutality and racial disparities in criminal justice. One group associated with the movement introduced a set of concrete policy solutions, and the movement as a whole became a politically relevant force amid the 2016 presidential race.
In response, Fox's primetime lineup -- Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Sean Hannity -- spent the year disparaging the movement, caricaturing Black Lives Matter as extreme and dangerous while downplaying the problem of police brutality.
At the forefront of Fox's primetime coverage of Black Lives Matter has been an effort to cast the movement as a radical, militant group that poses a threat to law and order.
The network has primarily sought to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement by likening them to marginalized hate groups by and large rejected from mainstream society. In October, Sean Hannity decried the Democratic National Committee's decision to approve a presidential town hall hosted by groups associated with Black Lives Matter, asking "why don't you let the [Ku Klux] Klan host a party?" Bill O'Reilly bemoaned that "the rise of fascism on American college campuses" has been "no doubt encouraged by groups like Black Lives Matter and other radical concerns," and once equated the Black Lives Matter movement to the Nazi Party, reasoning that they are both "extreme group[s]."
Bill O'Reilly has also outright labeled Black Lives Matter a "hate group," claiming they "want [police officers] dead":
BILL O'REILLY: I think they're a hate group, they hate police officers ... they hate them, they want them dead.
They're a hate group and I'm going to tell you right now I'm going to put them out of business. And any media person who supports them, I'm going to put them on this program and put their picture right up on the air.
Fox's top hosts have also suggested that Black Lives Matter protesters and demonstrations endanger social cohesion and nationwide safety. After a video went viral in June showing a white McKinney, Texas police officer manhandling a black teenage girl, pinning her to the ground and drawing his gun on other black teens, Bill O'Reilly opened his June 9 show with a segment titled "The War On Cops." In the segment, which included b-roll of Black Lives Matter protesters interspersed with footage of riots, O'Reilly stoked fears about the possibility of a "war between the police and minorities in America," charging that "anti-police zealots are given wide latitude to spew their hatred and irresponsible ravings." O'Reilly gave the police in the video a pass, instead noting that "there is a growing disrespect for police officers in some American neighborhoods" and arguing that "that attitude is going to lead to violence."
Fox's primetime line-up also baselessly connected the Black Lives Matter movement to the September death of a Fox Lake, Illinois police officer. Megyn Kelly labeled the death a "murder," noting that "it comes just days after" a Texas sheriff claimed the death of a deputy was inspired by Black Lives Matter. Bill O'Reilly asked whether "the Black Lives Matter crew and other radicals are igniting violence against cops." The officer's death was later ruled a suicide.
Fox's primetime hosts have also fixated on extreme comments of random protesters to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement as violent extremists. On August 29, a small group of protesters at the Minnesota State Fair protesting police brutality chanted "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon." Black Lives Matter organizers distanced themselves from the controversial chant, but in the following months, O'Reilly, Kelly, and Hannity repeatedly invoked the chant to decry the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. Fox's Juan Williams called out the ploy on Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY: Your Democratic Party is going to allow the "pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon" group to host a Democratic forum? What's wrong with your party? ... Talk about killing cops? Fry them like bacon?
JUAN WILLIAMS: I don't think that they were serious by the way. You guys make this into, like that was the anthem of all Black Lives Matter. This was a group making some offhand remarks.
HANNITY: Oh no? That was the Black Lives Matter movement.
WILLIAMS: You tried to connect it to the death in Houston. It had nothing to do with it.
HANNITY: Right, the "pigs in the blanket, fry them like bacon" group.
WILLIAMS: I don't think that's fair.
HANNITY: Larry, is that fair? That's their group. That's their chant. They did it.
In response to the chant, Megyn Kelly remarked, "You're supposed to put on somebody from the Black Lives Matter movement to represent their side of the story," but asked "why should we be listening to someone who speaks like that?"
When they're not demonizing Black Lives Matter themselves, Fox's primetime hosts invite extreme right-wing commentators to do the job for them.
Megyn Kelly hosted notorious right-wing race-baiters Ron Hosko and Mark Fuhrman to discuss Black Lives Matter, crime, and policing over a dozen times in 2015, and in doing so mainstreamed and legitimized some of the most racist impulses of the right-wing.
Ron Hosko is the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, a conservative nonprofit that "prop[s] up right-wing organizations to which they have ties." Hosko has made inflammatory remarks in the past about policing, once calling former Attorney General Eric Holder "chief among the antagonists" of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Hosko also suggested that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown, had been symbolically lynched, claiming that Eric Holder wanted cops to "watch" the lynching and that Holder should "cut Darren Wilson down from that tree."
In keeping with his record of disparaging comments, Hosko frequently attacked the Black Lives Matter movement on Kelly's show. On the September 1 edition of The Kelly File, after the Fox Lake police officer was found dead and Fox News rushed to associate the death with Black Lives Matter, Megyn Kelly asked Hosko about President Obama's response to instances of police brutality. Hosko quickly pivoted towards attacking Black Lives Matter:
MEGYN KELLY: [President Obama] always gives a shout out to the cops when he comments on this matter. But the critics have said, Ron, whenever he compliments the cops or, you know, pays tribute to the hard work they do, there is always a but. You know, but, we have seen this epidemic. But, you know, young black men have good reason to fear. But we have this problem that the cops are responsible for, and so on.
RON HOSKO: We have. And too often it does seem like it is superficial, like it's something he has to say, not something he feels strongly about or truly believes in. Here we have a movement with hundreds of people standing behind a Black Lives Matter banner discrediting themselves. They have done it before. When is it time for senior administration officials to discredit them, as well? These are people who are tugging as hard as they can and tearing at the fabric of trust between our community and law enforcement. It is time to push them to the margins.
Mark Fuhrman, a Fox contributor and former detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, is a regular on both The Kelly File and Hannity. Fuhrman has a record of racist comments that he has made publicly and privately, including using the word n***** more than 40 times over a 10 year period. Yet despite Fuhrman's problematic past statements regarding race and policing, he regularly appears on Fox during primetime to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement. On the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, Fuhrman derided peaceful demonstrations in Ferguson as "gang members and street drug dealers ... just hanging out" and "taking advantage of a hesitant police department," lamenting that the protesters always "just take more and more."
Sean Hannity frequently hosts Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke to discuss crime and policing. Clarke, himself an African-American, has called Black Lives Matter "an ideology of victimhood with a list of grievances that do not exist" while appearing on Hannity, and said that the endorsement of Black Lives Matter by Democratic politicians is "plantation politics."
O'Reilly often invites former Fox host Glenn Beck onto The O'Reilly Factor. Beck has equated politicians speaking to Black Lives Matter supporters to "choosing death." Fox commentator Bernie Goldberg once lamented to O'Reilly that networks "were all showing [Black Lives Matter protesters'] good racial manners" instead of their "bad racial manners" due to "white liberal guilt because of slavery."
Fox News' primetime hosts have also been quick to caricature Black Lives Matter protesters as criminals, implying that if black people didn't rob, join gangs, use drugs -- so the story goes -- they wouldn't be subjected to such heavy policing. The hosts have repeatedly seized on events that have inspired Black Lives Matter protests, deriding victims of police brutality and black communities broadly in an attempt to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.
In May, after Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets in Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray, Sean Hannity blamed the community reaction on a "tragic wave of violent crime" in American cities "with no end in sight." Hannity then attempted to lecture black activists about crime in the black community, mocking the idea that racism could be a root cause of violence in Baltimore.
Megyn Kelly is notorious in her own right for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality. Kelly suggested that Sandra Bland's death could be due in part to her failure to obey the police officer, arguing that her death could have been averted if she had just "compl[ied] and complain[ed] later." Kelly also interjected that the black teenage girl manhandled by a McKinney police officer "was no saint either," after bemoaning that people had "made this into a race thing."
Characterizing Black Lives Matter protesters or black victims of police brutality as criminals occurs within a broader context of Fox News implying that there is something inherently criminal within black communities. After a nine-year-old boy was killed by gun violence in Chicago, Bill O'Reilly argued that the people perpetrating violence in Chicago have "no conscience at all ... and do what they want" and claimed that violence in Chicago comes from a "culture that is sociopathic." He also suggested that Chicago's high incidence of violence "never improves" "because these deaths are in the black precincts" and "in the white precincts ... this would never happen." Megyn Kelly once bemoaned the "anti-cop ... thug mentality" she sees in "black communities." And throughout 2015, Sean Hannity has aired several segments linking black-on-black crime to the "problems" in black communities.
Fox's obsession with black criminality highlights how the network dissuades largely-white audiences from believing that police brutality is indicative of systemic racism, working to mainstream the notion that injustices in the black community are deserved. As media outlets disproportionately misrepresent black people as criminals, Fox's primetime hosts help to "[reinforce] a culture in which the benefit of the doubt is not distributed evenly" and "inaccurate and harmful stereotypes" of black criminality are pervasive. The network's portrayal of black communities as "out of control and replete with danger" consequently "reduces [white people's] empathy and heightens animosity," all to distract from or even excuse police brutality.
The reality is that black people still face incredibly disproportionate rates of police brutality, unarmed killings, and incarceration. Black people are more than twice as likely than white people to be murdered by police. In 2015 alone, nearly 70 unarmed black people have been killed by law enforcement.
And yet, instead of embracing these facts, Fox News has impugned Black Lives Matter, fearmongering about the movement's potential and blaming them for the very injustices that befall the black community.
"Moderate Muslims don't speak out enough against the hijacking of their religion" Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity claimed in his first radio appearance after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.
In a year bookended by three major terror attacks against the West, blaming "moderate Muslims" for failing to condemn acts of terrorism has become a hallmark of conservative media coverage. The constant demand for penance -- from Muslims who have nothing to do with the acts of violence -- is a rigged game, aimed at convincing audiences that Islam is dominated by violent extremists.
January's Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris set the stage for a year of anti-Muslim coverage. Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News' parent company, tweeted that Muslims "must be held responsible" for terrorist attacks "until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer." Fox contributor Monica Crowley echoed his statements, claiming "I haven't heard any condemnation" of the attack from Muslim groups, while right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham claimed that similar attacks wouldn't occur if "most Muslims were against what was happening." When Paris was struck by terror again in November, Fox primetime figurehead Bill O'Reilly called for a "Million Muslim March," adding that people want to "see a mobilization of the good Muslims." Capping off the year of Islamophobic coverage, Fox daytime host Andrea Tantaros used December's terrorist attack by a Muslim couple in San Bernardino, California as an opportunity to peddle the myth that Muslims "don't come out and denounce [terrorism]."
But conservative media's calls for "moderate Muslims" to condemn terrorism are disingenuous. Muslim groups and leaders have repeatedly and roundly condemned terrorism. After November's attacks in Paris, leaders from numerous Arab states and Muslim-majority countries called them "heinous crimes" that are "repugnant," and "against all human and moral values." Eleven months earlier, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, religious scholar Reza Aslan said "anyone who keeps saying that we need to hear the moderate voice of Islam, why aren't Muslims denouncing these violent attacks, doesn't own Google." Nevertheless right-wing media routinely ignored these condemnations, choosing instead to criticize Muslims for supposedly not speaking up. After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the spokesman from Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA condemned the attack on FoxNews.com, yet on the same day Fox News personalities claimed Muslims had not. Sean Hannity doubled down in his attacks against "silent" Muslims days after leaders of predominately Muslim countries, some of the largest Islamic groups in America, and Muslims across the world denounced the November Paris attacks.
And when conservative commentators do acknowledge statements from mainstream Muslim groups, it's often only to ridicule those groups for speaking out. After the December 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the largest Islamic organizations in America, quickly denounced the attack in a press conference after the shooters were revealed to be Muslim. Executive Director Hussam Ayloush reassured the country on CNN that "all American Muslims share with the rest of the country our sorrow today, our shock, and our agony for what happened."
But rather than silencing criticisms, CAIR's response only drew outrage from conservative commentators who labeled the group a "terrorist organization" and "that Muslim group that ain't the best in the world." One Fox guest even went so far as to compare the press conference to "a pedophile sending NAMBLA out to speak for them," while others dismissed the statements as "damage control" and a "media crisis management plan." Frequent Fox guest Dr. Zuhdi Jasser somehow gathered from CAIR's statements that they "inculcate those first steps of radicalization" and see it as "sort of normal behavior."
CAIR's condemnations also did little to curb conservative media claims that Muslims weren't speaking out against terrorism. Even while acknowledging CAIR's press conference, a segment on Fox's Outnumbered still claimed that Muslims weren't sending the message that terrorists "are much different than the rest of us."
Many of the same conservative media figures who demanded penance from "moderate Muslims" for acts of terror also repeatedly suggested that Islam and Western society are fundamentally incompatible. Monica Crowley reasoned that Muslims weren't denouncing terror because "in Islam, the good Muslims are the jihadis, so the ones not carrying out violence are looked at as sort of crummy Muslims." Laura Ingraham stoked anti-Muslim fears by citing a faulty poll to falsely claim that Muslims "have a 5,000 percent greater chance of being connected with some type of jihadi group in the United States." Sean Hannity asked if "we have a clash of cultures we've got to consider?" in reference to resettling Syrian civil war refugees in the U.S., adding, "How do we know if they want to assimilate?" Bill O'Reilly called the European refugee crisis "the dramatic Muslim invasion." Fox News figures capitalized on the crisis to stoke fears that Muslim refugees may be terrorists, from Andrea Tantaros claiming "taking Islamic refugees would be suicide" to The Five co-host Eric Bolling saying male Muslim refugees are "going to be easily radicalized by ISIS."
This tactic -- assigning collective guilt and then falsely accusing "moderate Muslims" of being complicit with violent terrorism -- has become a powerful weapon in conservative media's campaign to fearmonger about Islam.
After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Caner Dagli, a professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross, pointed out that these demands are "really about political statements and maintaining a certain social hierarchy" and "an act by the powerful assigning collective guilt against the powerless":
This is really about political statements and maintaining a certain social hierarchy. Demanding that innocent Muslims always make new statements about crimes they could not have stopped, from which they do not benefit, and have always condemned anyway, is an act by the powerful assigning collective guilt against the powerless. The critics who want Muslims to "speak out" only grow more demanding when Muslims actually do speak out, because by doing so Muslims have publicly affirmed the right of others to blame them collectively, regardless of whether they are accountable or not.
Such political maneuvers -- and that is what they really are -- increase the leverage that can be exerted over Muslims in public life. Muslim voices are thus uniquely kept out of view unless they are apologizing for some atrocity they had nothing to do with.
Endlessly accusing Muslims of being insufficiently outraged by terrorism helps prime conservative media audiences for a wildly distorted view of Islam. Vox's Max Fisher shed light on the mindset that these tactics breed: "the implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise."
That implication has consequences. While right-wing media figures heightened suspicions of the Muslim community, anti-Muslim backlash in America has been on the rise. The FBI reported that in 2014, hate crimes across the board decreased -- that is, except for anti-Muslim crimes, which rose about 14 percent. And according to a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, that trend may be "destined to accelerate."
Just days after the attacks in Paris, a Muslim engineer attended a community forum to present an application for a zoning permit to replace his city's aging Islamic center. A crowd poured into the meeting to harass him. "Nobody wants your evil cult in this town," someone in the hall shouted, "because you are terrorists. Every one of you are terrorists ... Every Muslim is a terrorist, period. Shut your mouth." Vandalism at mosques reached a record high this year with anecdotal evidence suggesting that 2015 "has been one of the most intensely anti-Muslim periods in American history," as nearly twenty anti-Muslim incidents took place over the course of just one week in December.
When conservative media commentators demand that Muslims condemn acts of terrorism and subsequently ignore their voices when they do, they are insidiously suggesting that Muslims condone terrorism. These demands are meant to make audiences suspicious of the idea of "moderate Muslims" and inflate the perception of extremists within the religion. Muslims are then left with seemingly no way to win, no matter how loud or how hard they try.
Right-wing media trumpeted a front-page New York Times piece that used unnamed sources to claim that one of the San Bernardino attackers "talked openly on social media" about violent jihad. These claims made their way into the December 15 CNN Republican debate, where candidates claimed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was prohibited from reviewing the social media of potential visa applicants out of concern for "political correctness." But the FBI and DHS explained that they are not prohibited from reviewing social media, and FBI Director James Comey found no evidence that the San Bernardino terrorists made any public "pro-Jihad" posts on social media.
The Washington Post editorial board criticized the Republican Party for pushing "fear-mongering and raw xenophobia" into the mainstream during the GOP presidential debates.
With the help of conservative media, Republican candidates have started to push fringe rhetoric and ideas into the mainstream. For example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) changed his position on comprehensive immigration reform, due to backlash from right-wing media. Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has touted a hoax about refugees from the Middle East, which was brought up in a conversation with Fox News' Sean Hannity. Radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed that Trump has changed the debate over immigration, because of his radio show. Following the attacks in Paris, right-wing media figures echoed calls from several GOP candidates to accept Christian refugees only, claiming that it would prevent potential terrorists from entering the U.S.
As the December 16 editorial points out, these ideas, "once the hallmarks of fringe candidates" have gone "unremarked on by the Republican contestants." In addition, any attempts to steer the debate with "constitutional, legal and practical questions" are "contemptuously dismissed as 'political correctness,'" hereby making "bigotry, hatred and magical thinking the new normal":
THE REPUBLICAN Party, once small government's champion, is now the party that breeds presidential contenders who would monitor schools and mosques, shut down parts of the Internet and exclude certain immigrants for no reason beyond the faith they profess. In the GOP debate Tuesday, those ideas -- along with can-you-top-this rhetorical barrages aimed at illegal immigrants and Syrian refugees -- received a generally polite reception, with constitutional, legal and practical questions contemptuously dismissed as "political correctness."
True, the extremism that now passes for mainstream Republican thought, robbed of its shock value by the unfiltered ravings of Donald Trump, was punctured from time to time with expressions of dismay, incredulity and doubt.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) skewered Mr. Trump's plans for the United States to ban all Muslim immigrants or murder the families of terrorists, and Mr. Paul, along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, rightly dismissed Mr. Trump's blithe suggestion that he could somehow censor the Internet in parts of the world where jihadist sentiment runs deep.
By and large, though, these ludicrous proposals went unremarked on by the Republican contestants, for whom bigotry, hatred and magical thinking are the new normal.
The GOP's ideological sands are shifting with whiplash-inducing speed. Just a week after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) denounced Mr. Trump's callto bar entry to any Muslim immigrant, Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) both said they could "understand" the impulse behind the patently un-American idea, although each politely disagreed. As for Mr. Trump's four other main rivals, who flanked him on the stage in Las Vegas, none bothered even to address what surely counts as one of the most incendiary proposals ever made by a candidate seeking a major party's presidential nomination.
It could be that the candidates quail at contending with the question of banning Muslims because polls suggest that about 60 percent of GOP primary voters like the idea. (A roughly equal proportion of all Americans don't.) However, lunacy has always had a constituency in this country -- plenty of people think the moon landing was a hoax and that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were an inside job. A litmus test for presidential candidates is whether they have the spine to speak truth to the fringe. By that standard, most of the current crop of Republican hopefuls fail.
The candidates were no more courageous on the question of admitting Syrian refugees victimized by a dictatorial regime and the Islamic State's death cult. Despite the fact that neither the San Bernardino, Calif., assailants nor any of the known Paris attackers appears to have been Syrian -- most in Paris were French nationals -- virtually all the GOP contestants jockeyed to vilify Syrian refugees, with Mr. Trump raising the fact-free specter of "tens of thousands of [refugees] having cellphones with ISIS [Islamic State] flags on them."
Fear-mongering and raw xenophobia were once the hallmarks of fringe candidates. Today the fringe candidates have stormed center stage, brandishing their zeal and hyperbole and, disturbingly, dragging the mainstream along with them.
From the December 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the December 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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From the December 16 special edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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WSB Radio reporter Jaime Dupree reported that officials for Donald Trump's presidential campaign made reporters promise not to speak to any of the GOP candidate's supporters at a campaign event that once again was interrupted by protests and marked by the physical ejection of demonstrators. While Dupree explained that he has never experienced this type of restriction from a campaign, conservative radio host Sean Hannity laughed off the story as "highly entertaining."
During an interview on the December 15 edition of the Sean Hannity Show, Dupree alleged that he and other news reporters were required to "pledge" that they would not speak to attendees at a December 14 rally event for the candidate after Trump supporters made death threats to Black Lives Matter protesters and one supporter yelled "Sieg heil" -- a Nazi salute. Radio host Sean Hannity shrugged off the reporter's comments, calling the story "hilarious." Although the fact that the Trump campaign is cordoning off journalists from attendees has been reported, Dupree added that this restriction on speaking to supporters as a condition for leaving the penned off area is the first time he's experienced this type of "overly aggressive" tactic by a campaign.
JAIME DUPREE (REPORTER): Now one other quick story. Last night when we were at the Trump rally, we were in this media area, they roped us off, and we were not allowed to go out and interview Trump supporters during the event. But after it was over, the Trump people refused to let us out. It was forty-five minutes after the event had ended and we were still not being allowed to leave.
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Was that just the media people?
DUPREE: Yeah, the news reporters, unless we promised that we would not try to interview any Donald Trump supporters at the event. First time I've ever seen anything like that. It was very odd.
HANNITY: Actually I find that highly entertaining because, you know what, the media is not exactly held in high esteem anymore in this country, that's hilarious.
DUPREE: I know, but the thing is, literally I had to pledge that I was going to walk to the door because I wanted to go back to my hotel to write my stories.
DUPREE: When all I had to do was walk out that door and there were about three hundred Donald Trump supporters out there that I could have interviewed if I wanted to, but there's a real sort of behind-the-scenes battle going on between the Trump people who are being overly aggressive with shutting down the news media.
Trump received criticism in June for allegedly using paid actors "to cheer for him at his 2016 presidential-campaign announcement in New York City." In November, Trump supporters beat up a black protester and yelled racial slurs at the protester in Birmingham, Alabama.
Conservative radio hosts criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for calling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) a "maniac," but previously supported Trump after he came under attack for suggesting the United States ban all Muslims from entering the country, for falsely claiming that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheered during the 9/11 attacks, and for characterizing all Hispanic immigrants as criminals.
From the December 14 edition of Late Night with Seth Meyers:
Conservative talk radio hosts defended GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) after Republican front-runner Donald Trump attacked Cruz, calling him a "maniac"