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Every year from September 15 to October 15, people in the United States celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring the contributions of the Hispanic community and celebrating its history, heritage, and culture. Fox News in the past has paid lip service to Hispanic Heritage Month, but the network has consistently failed to curb its typical disparaging and vitriolic rhetoric against this community, making any segment aired to honor Latinos read like a transparent PR ploy.
Fox News has also reliably defended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s attacks on Latinos, including his claims that Mexican immigrants are criminals and that a judge of Mexican heritage could not impartially preside over a lawsuit against him. And the network regularly features anti-immigrant programming and excludes Latino voices.
Here are 12 reasons Fox News will have a hard time convincing anyone that the network genuinely cares about honoring Latinos during Hispanic Heritage month:
Sean Hannity defended Trump’s assertion that Mexico is sending “rapists” and “criminals” to the U.S. during a June 29, 2015, panel discussion. Hannity said, "I agree with Mr. Trump. As somebody who has been down to the border 11 times, I have seen the drug warehouses, I was there when criminals were arrested, I know the human trafficking side and the impact on our educational system, criminal justice system, et cetera -- our health care system.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said, “I agree with Donald Trump” after Trump criticized presidential candidate Jeb Bush's use of Spanish, saying that when “the Spanish reporters” speak to Latino athletes in Spanish, "we sit around and go, ‘What country are we in?’" Kilmeade also lashed out at Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine for speaking Spanish, saying, “Pick a language. … Don’t show off. Nobody thinks you’re Hispanic.” According to research from Pew, 95 percent of Latinos believe that it’s important for future generations to speak Spanish and believe the language “is an important part of Latino culture and identity.”
On July 25, the Democratic National Convention featured a speech by 11-year-old Karla Ortiz, an 11-year-old American citizen who relayed her fears that her undocumented parents may be deported. Ortiz said, “I’m scared that at any moment my mom and my dad will be forced to leave.” Ortiz also translated for her mother, Francisca, who said that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will fight for people like her. On the same night, DREAMer Astrid Silva -- who came into the country undocumented but whose deportation was deferred under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program -- described growing up in the United States without legal status. Fox chose not to show either of the speeches.
A Media Matters study of the three major cable news networks’ coverage of the massacre that took place in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, FL, on June 12 found that Fox featured the least diverse guests discussing the attack. Out of a total of 80 guests invited to comment on the massacre during the period analyzed, only 6 percent were Hispanic, even though the tragic events disproportionately affected the Latino community.
A 2016 Media Matters study of guest appearances on the five network and cable Sunday morning political shows found that Fox’s show, Fox News Sunday, did not host a single Latina in three years. Based on the latest U.S. Census data, Latinas make up 9 percent of the general population in the U.S. Sunday political talk shows often set the media and political agenda, and Fox did not see fit to include Latina voices in that process, even though 2015 saw numerous pressing policy issues that disproportionately affect them, such as attempts to block access to reproductive health services, efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and continued wage gaps between genders.
While appearing on the May 3 edition of Fox & Friends, legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said young Latinos protesting outside of a Trump rally “should be suffused with the American ethic,” adding that he’d like to see “young Hispanic-American boys and girls holding the American flag” instead of Mexican flags, because “there needs to be an understanding that they are Americans now. They need to act as such.”
While discussing college tuition at New Mexico State University for Mexican students on the July 1 edition of Fox & Friends, host Tucker Carlson said to immigration attorney and activist Francisco Hernandez, “Mr. Hernandez, I’m just going to speak really slowly so you get this.”
While hosting his show Cavuto: Coast to Coast on Fox Business Network, Neil Cavuto asked Sheriff Joe Arpaio to offer advice to Republicans on Latino outreach, saying, “How would you advise them to win them over?” Arpaio’s staunch anti-immigrant stance has earned him the title of “the most hated man in the Hispanic community.”
While hosting Fox & Friends Saturday, Tucker Carlson said the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) were “a little odd” and questioned why journalists should “coalesce around a racial identity.”
Fox’s Bill O’Reilly agreed with Trump’s statement that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel -- who is overseeing the Trump University case -- could not objectively do his job because of his Hispanic ethnicity. During his June 7 show on Fox, The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly suggested that Trump’s “strong stand against illegal immigration” and “border wall” were valid reasons to believe a Hispanic judge could be biased against him.
On September 12, Cleveland.com’s senior political writer Henry Gomez reported on the racist “vitriol” he has fielded while covering the 2016 presidential election, writing that most attacks were “parroting a lot of Donald Trump’s greatest hits.” Both CNN and MSNBC invited Gomez on as a guest to share his experience on September 13, yet Fox ignored his story.
Sean Hannity hosted a town hall for Trump devoted to anti-immigrant fearmongering, and he dedicated two hours of his prime-time show Hannity on August 23 and 24 to airing it in full. The town hall served as an immigrant-bashing forum during which Hannity misinformed on crime and immigration and fearmongered about the “absolutely staggering” effects of undocumented immigration on the U.S. According to Pew, a large percentage of the undocumented population is comprised of Latinos.
Right-wing media are claiming the statement from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign that she was diagnosed with pneumonia is actually “a cover for some more serious condition,” and that Clinton falling ill at a 9/11 memorial event “had virtually nothing to do with her having pneumonia.” Actual medical experts in the media have explained that “Clinton's wobbly incident Sunday is a near-textbook case of what can happen with ‘walking pneumonia.’”
It’s been one year since news figures seized on the story of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim American child in Texas who was taken from his school in handcuffs for bringing a “suspicious” homemade alarm clock to class. Last September, Fox News’ coverage of Mohamed’s arrest revealed a long-held tendency to selectively invoke the language of “school safety” to conveniently push conservative stances on immigration, national security, LGBT rights, and guns, while ignoring threats to the safety of the most vulnerable populations in our schools.
When Fox News talks about “school safety,” the ensuing conversation is exactly what you’d expect from a network with a median viewer age of 68 and a prime-time viewership that’s only 1.1 percent black. For Fox and its viewers, a predictable line exists between those individuals worthy of protection and those who represent perceived threats. Here’s what we’ve seen on Fox since Ahmed’s arrest made headlines last fall.
In September 2015, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at his Irving, TX, middle school and brought to a local police station in handcuffs after he was reported for bringing a “suspicious” homemade alarm clock to his classroom. In the weeks of national media coverage of the incident that followed, Fox News figures dismissed Mohamed’s traumatic experience and used the incident to justify profiling.
The network aired segments vilifying the child, claiming that progressives were hypocritical or willfully exploitative for suggesting Mohamed’s arrest was influenced by Islamophobia, and hyping so-called connections between Mohamed’s family members and terrorists. The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld summarized this convoluted position: “Try bringing a clock that looks like a bomb to the White House. Actually, no, don’t try it; you’ve seen what they do to people who jump fences. So why is this school’s safety a joke, but President Obama’s isn’t? Because for [Obama], and the media, the story fits the assumption of an America that hates Muslims. Yup, it’s our fault for reacting when a kid brings a wired-up box to a place filled with kids in a state where terror has occurred.”
According to a survey conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, classroom teachers are reporting more incidents of identity-based bullying and fear particularly among students from immigrant and Muslim families, a trend that appears to be connected to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric -- which Fox News has actively legitimized for years. A California study released just months after Mohamed’s arrest found that the majority of American Muslim students in the state reported experiencing physical and verbal bullying because of their faith in 2014. An in-depth report from The Guardian explained the trend:
Words are the most common weapon of school bullies, but in the past month, anti-Muslim sentiment in schools is increasingly manifesting in physical attacks, particularly against girls who wear the hijab. On 19 November, three boys allegedly beat up a sixth-grade girl wearing a hijab, calling her “Isis”. A 2014 study by Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) study found 29% of students who wore hijab experienced offensive touching or pulling of their scarves.
Fifty-five percent of Muslim students surveyed by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) last year reported that they were bullied at school in some form because of their Islamic faith. That’s twice the national percentage of bullying reported by all students, regardless of their religion. According to the CAIR survey, verbal harassment is the most common, with non-Muslims calling Muslim students terrorists or referencing bombs. But physical assaults also occur.
These incidents are taking a psychological toll on Muslim youth. “At a crucial time in their identity development, they’re suffering from chronic trauma,” says Dr Halim Naeem, a psychotherapist and president of The Institute of Muslim Mental Health. Dr Naeem says that in the past few months alone, he has seen increased cases of depression, anxiety, image issues, paranoia, and substance abuse among Muslim American youth. In the short term, the constant stress wreaks havoc on students’ immune systems and destroys their focus, disrupting learning ability.
In the wake of recent mass shootings, Fox News figures voices have repeatedly pushed arming educators or allowing more guns in schools as a way to improve student and teacher safety, and irresponsibly spread dangerous misinformation about school safety best practices. Immediately following the 2012 mass shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Fox News began calling for teachers to be armed -- even as school security experts, educators, and others argue that bringing guns into schools would make classrooms more dangerous and worsen learning environments for students. When a Texas school district moved to arm some of its teachers in 2014, the network devoted at least two segments to celebrating the decision and pushing the long-debunked myth (peddled by the NRA) that “a good guy with a gun” would prevent mass shootings. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade praised the initiative: “If you want to drop your kid off and know that they are going to be protected, you know at least in that school they are going to be protected.” Last year, Fox & Friends co-hosts again demonstrated a misguided understanding of school safety when they encouraged young children to physically confront gunmen, rather than first try to escape, and then hide -- and only confront the guman as a last resort -- as experts advise in the event of an active shooter situation.
As the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, wrote back in 2014, educators have long expressed an overwhelming desire to keep firearms out of classrooms and to strengthen gun violence prevention measures. Research has shown that greater access to guns in general creates greater risk for accidents and misfires. Gun access corresponds with increased risk of homicide, and gun-related deaths in the home are now the second most likely cause of death for children and teens. There’s also little evidence the presence of armed security staff in schools makes them any safer. Advocates are pushing for better training and reformed responsibilities for these positions to emphasize restorative justice and de-escalation techniques, as well as student and community needs, in order to combat current racial disparities in schools’ use of armed security officers.
Fox News figures have been instrumental in pushing the right-wing myth that gender-inclusive bathrooms in schools allow adult men to prey on children. The network has routinely either fearmongered about schools’ efforts to make their bathrooms safe for all students to use or mocked inclusive bathroom policies altogether. More than two years after Media Matters first debunked the “bathroom predator” myth, Fox News continues to push dangerous rhetoric about nondiscrimination policies. In April, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt hyped the disingenuous claim that nondiscrimination laws could lead to “a grown adult man” with “bad intentions” sneaking into “the little girls’ bathroom.” In May, Sean Hannity mocked inclusive bathroom policies on his radio show, proposing “liberal bathroom areas” where “you can have all the transgendered back-and-forth that you want.” In June, Tucker Carlson called the Democratic National Convention’s gender-neutral bathrooms “disgusting.”
After speaking to officials at 23 school districts and four universities that allow transgender students to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity, Media Matters failed to find any evidence of incidents of inappropriate bathroom behavior. Law enforcement experts and people who work with survivors of sexual assault have referred to this persistent myth as “beyond specious” and “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
In fact, school officials and educators’ groups continue to support efforts to boost nondiscriminatory bathroom policies and have pointed out the need for LGBT students to have these types of basic protections. Research shows LGBT students overwhelmingly report experiences of bullying in schools today, and efforts to distract from the needs of LGBT students with fearmongering and mockery certainly don’t help. In its guidelines for supporting transgender and gender diverse students, the American Psychological Association recommends that schools provide accessible facilities that match a student’s gender identity as one way to address the high rates of victimization and hostility transgender students report. In fact, opposition to nondiscrimination policies can further stigmatize and single out transgender students, leading to more reports of bullying and an increased risk of suicide. Advocates for survivors of sexual assault have also pointed out that perpetuating the “bathroom predator” myth can have dangerous consequences: Relying on stereotypical predator imagery to talk about sexual assault diverts attention and resources from finding solutions to keep women and girls safe.
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During a discussion about the presidential campaign on the September 7 edition of Fox News’ America's Newsroom, Fox host Tucker Carlson denied the findings of major scientific institutions around the world when he asserted that “there’s literally no proof” that climate change is caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels. He added that the notions that humans are causing climate change and can reverse it by cutting emissions are “articles of faith”:
Meanwhile, on September 6 the Journal posted another interview on its website between editorial board member Mary Kissel and Rod Nichols, chairman of the climate science-denying CO2 Coalition. Kissel introduced Nichols as a “guy who takes no coal money or big energy money, as far as I know.” However, Nichols has served on the boards of the Manhattan Institute and George C. Marshall Institute, which have each received funding from ExxonMobil and foundations run by the oil billionaire Koch brothers.
During the interview, Kissel and Nichols agreed that climate change is “a non-problem,” because according to Nichols, carbon pollution “is going to be good for the world.” He also claimed that there has been “practically no warming” in order to suggest that climate change is not a cause for concern:
State Department lawyers announced that 30 emails the FBI recovered from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private server regarding the September 2012 Benghazi attacks contained only one “all-new” email, which was a personal message to Clinton. The announcement contrasts right-wing media hype that scandalized the emails as a “Benghazi bombshell” and fodder for conspiracy theorists, and implied that they might reveal new information to negatively implicate Clinton in the Benghazi attacks.
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Carlson Calls The Largest Minority Journalistic Associations “A Little Odd”
Fox’s Tucker Carlson attacked the country’s largest minority journalistic associations, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), saying they were “a little odd” and questioning why journalists should “coalesce around a racial identity.”
While co-hosting the August 6 edition of Fox’s Fox & Friends Saturday, Carlson discussed the groups’ joint convention and career fair and asked guest Julio Ricardo Varela of Futuro Media Group whether it was ironic that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had accused “her opponent,” Republican nominee Donald Trump, “of racism while speaking to a racially exclusive group”:
TUCKER CARLSON (CO-HOST): So of all the many ironies baked into this, the one that amused me the most was Hillary accusing her opponent of racism while speaking to a racially exclusive group. Did that occur to anybody in the audience, that that was a little bit ironic?
JULIO RICARDO VARELA: No, I mean, I think it was a bigger issue. I mean, first of all, we're journalists, so to say that we're like a racially exclusive group -- I mean, there’s a lot of award-winning journalists there --
CARLSON: Well sure. I'm not attacking the journalists [indecipherable], I'm just saying if Donald Trump spoke to the white journalist association, people would say “whoa, whoa, wait a second now.” Why should journalists coalesce around a racial identity? Isn’t their job to find the truth?
VARELA: Yeah, no, but Tucker, Donald Trump was also invited. So, are you going to come to the belly of the beast? We are journalists. It’s not like we're not going to sit here and go -- Donald Trump was invited and he said no.
CARLSON: Right. No, no, and I'm not fighting for Trump. I’m just saying, the group, it seems a little bit -- if you take three steps back, kind of a little odd.
The NABJ and NAHJ are the largest minority journalistic associations in the country. The NABJ “advocates on behalf of black journalists,” and the NAHJ’s mission is to “increase the number of Latinos in the newsrooms” and push for a more “accurate representation of Latinos in news media.”
The work of associations like NABJ and NAHJ is not anti-white; rather, these groups help young journalists of color find career opportunities and encourage the media to address blind spots induced by lack of diversity. The underrepresentation of minorities of color has been a recurring weak spot for both print and radio newsrooms over the past 20 years. The lack of voices of people of color in newsrooms can lead to inaccurate representations of reality, with media often overlooking important angles, privileging one-sided stories, or failing to provide necessary context to understand news events. This kind of inaccurate storytelling has the harmful impact of perpetuating racially biased public perceptions, like criminalizing youth of color or failing to give victims of color humane coverage.
Carlson joins other right-wing media figures in misrepresenting pushes for ethnic and racial diversity and inclusion as “racist.”
Right-wing media are distorting a new report in The Wall Street Journal detailing a payment of $400 million from the United States government to the Iranian government to resolve an arms sale dispute dating to 1981. Conservative outlets are suggesting the payment “was definitely ransom” paid for American prisoners held in Iran, claiming “the administration did not reveal this to the public,” suggesting that Hillary Clinton was wrong to say the report is “old news,” and that airlifting cash to make the payment was essentially “money laundering.” But past reporting and explanations from the administration reveal “no concrete evidence that the cash payment was, in fact, a ransom,” that many of the details of the payments were made public in January, Clinton correctly noted the payment has been public for “seven or eight months,” and making the payment in cash was the only way to legally do it due to economic sanctions against Iran.
Donald and Eric Trump’s victim-blaming responses to questions about sexual harassment were condemned in the media, but they echoed right-wing media’s long history of putting the onus on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have suggested that being a sexual assault survivor is a “coveted status,” that victims should “make better decisions,” and that “women need to take some responsibility.”
The Obama Administration Announced Fund Transfer For Settlement Over Abandoned Arms Deal In January
Right-wing media figures are hyping a new article in The Wall Street Journal which reports the United States “secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran” to claim that the administration concealed this deal from the public. But President Obama explained in a January 17 press conference that, as a result of the newly agreed-upon Iran nuclear deal, Iran and the U.S. “are now settling a longstanding Iranian government claim against the United States government,” and Secretary of State John Kerry issued a press release the same day which explained “Iran will receive … $400 million,” “as well as a roughly $1.3 billion compromise on the interest.”