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Jessica Torres

Author ››› Jessica Torres
  • How Conservative Media Obliterated The Space For "Compassionate Conservatism" On Immigration

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    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.

    But unlike his brother, whose gentler tone on immigration was viewed as a strength, Jeb Bush was skewered for his remarks, especially by conservative media figures.

    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.

  • How Conservative Media's Crime Fearmongering Undermines "Constructive Discourse" About Criminal Justice

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    Eric Lewis, chairman of Reprieve US, highlighted how conservative media's fearmongering about crime undermines efforts to reform the criminal justice system and inspires GOP candidates to adopt scare tactics about the Black Lives Matter movement and immigration into their campaign strategies. 

    Conservative media have repeatedly used baseless claims to link the Obama administration to crimes against police, and often use inflammatory rhetoric to describe the Black Lives Matter movement. Fox News hosts and anchors have derisively called Black Lives Matter a hate group - despite often praising the work of actual hate groups - and right-wing media figures have misleadingly cited President Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio's statements about police brutality to suggest that they are responsible for violence. Right-wing media also used the murder of San Francisco woman Kate Steinle to defend Trump's immigrant smear.

    In a September 15 commentary for the Marshall Project, Eric Lewis, chairman of Reprieve US, argued that conservative media outlets have seized on the "potential" for a "Republican renaissance on fear of crime," which prevents a "constructive discourse"  around "the crushing costs of incarceration, the waste of mandatory minimum sentences," among other criminal justice issues.

    The conservative National Review sees the potential here for a Republican renaissance on fear of crime. In a recent paean to Nixonian nostalgia, "Revive Law and Order Conservatism," Stephen Eide writes, "So long as the New York Times and anti-cop activist groups continue with their provocations, we can be reasonably confident that more violent unrest is to come. The spectacle of chaos descending on cities long dominated by Democrats obviously plays to the GOP's advantage."

    He decries conservative attitudes on crime as "notably softer now than they have been in many decades." Acknowledging that "New York City's murders hit a 50-year low," he observes, "there were still more than three times as many as in London, which has about the same population." Surely that could have nothing to do with robust Second Amendment rights, another cornerstone of the Republican platform. Eide counsels Republicans that a key to victory in 2016 is to "emphasize that we still have a serious crime problem."

    Republican candidates are taking note. On Hot Air, a conservative web site, Scott Walker properly lamented a recent spate of tragic police shootings but blamed them on President Obama. "In the last six years under President Obama, we've seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric. Instead of hope and change, we've seen racial tensions worsen and a tendency to use law enforcement as a scapegoat." And Chris Christie threw Bill de Blasio under the bus as well, "It's the liberal policies in [New York] that have led to the lawlessness that's been encouraged by the president of the United States," he said. "And I'm telling you, people in this country are getting more and more fed up."

    Republicans are increasingly positioning the issue as a rift between Black Lives Matter and police unions, between Sanctuary Cities and thousand mile anti-rapist walls. The constructive discourse in recent months about the crushing costs of incarceration, the waste of mandatory minimum sentences, the twin crises of mental health and addiction in prison, the endless cost and delay in enforcing the death penalty has all but ended. In its place, Republicans are moving toward the traditional toxic brew of race, ethnicity, white middle class insecurity and panic about crime.

    Get ready for the return of Willie Horton.

  • STUDY: NY Times Has Mostly Ignored Public Editor's Urging To Report Lack Of Voter Fraud In Voter ID Stories

    ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    The New York Times has continued to largely ignore the repeated advice of its public editor to report that the type of in-person voter fraud that strict voter ID laws are supposed to prevent is virtually nonexistent. In the year since Margaret Sullivan last publicly asked the paper's editors to curb "false balance" in their "he said, she said" coverage of the voter ID issue, The Times gave a free pass to claims of voter fraud in 60 percent of its stories. That's an increase of more than 10 percent over the number of stories between 2012-2014 that contained unsupported claims that voter ID is needed to stop voter impersonation, according to a previous Media Matters study.

  • Fox's Napolitano Condemns Attacks On "Anchor Babies" Without Acknowledging His Colleagues Promoted Them

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano decried how the "tone" of the national immigration law debate "has taken an ugly turn" with the increasing use of nativist rhetoric to attack "anchor babies," yet glossed over the fact that his Fox colleagues have been some of the loudest proponents of the slur and ending birthright citizenship.

    Napolitano condemned attacks on birthright citizenship as "dangerous" and "anti-American" in a September 3 opinion piece for, detailing how Hispanics are "being demonized because of the politics of nativism." Revoking the 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship, Napolitano wrote, would change the country "far more radically and dangerously than any wave of undocumented immigrants did":

    Today, the potential victims of public indifference and government repression are Hispanics in America. Hispanics here without documentation are being demonized because of the politics of nativism. Nativism -- we are exceptional; we are better people than they are; we were here first -- is very dangerous and leads to ugly results.

    The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution underscore the truism that all persons have the same natural rights, irrespective of where their mothers were when they delivered them.


    The Fourteenth Amendment requires this, and its language is inclusive: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States..." Though written to protect former slaves, its language is not limited to them.


    When the history of our times is written, it might relate that the majority repressed the rights of minorities by demonizing them using appeals to group prejudice -- by blaming entire ethnic groups for the criminal behavior of some few members of those groups.

     That history might reflect that this was done for short-term political gain.

    If that happens, it will have changed America far more radically and dangerously than any wave of undocumented immigrants did.

    And that would be profoundly and perhaps irreparably un-American.

    Yet Napolitano's criticism  fails to note that his Fox colleagues have been some of the loudest proponents of revoking birthright citizenship and using "anchor baby" slurs to demonize immigrants.  

    Even before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed amending the constitution to revoke the 14th Amendment right, Fox figures like Bill O'Reilly, Steve Doocy, and Laura Ingraham were calling for an end to birthright citizenship. Their demand grew even louder after Trump voiced his support -- Sean Hannity demanded an end to birthright citizenship to stop "anchor babies" while Fox & Friends lauded Trump's plan as "remarkable." Lou Dobbs proposed a legal justification to spur along the end of birthright citizenship, which Fox radio host Todd Starnes declared would put "Americans first."

    What's more, Fox figures applauded Trump's use of the term "anchor baby" -- Brian Kilmeade even said  "a lot of people think that [term] would be a compliment," while Hannity claimed "there is no other term to use."

    Beyond a purported wave of "anchor babies" being an anti-immigrant myth, the term is offensive to Hispanics. As NBC News explained, it's a "dog whistle" or a "term used to describe coded language that means one thing in general but has an additional meaning for a targeted population. According to one expert, 'anchor baby' is used as a code 'to stimulate fear about changing racial demographics.'" 

  • Measuring The "Trump Effect" On The GOP Brand For Latino Voters

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    Journalists should be careful when reporting on the Republican Party's relationship with Hispanic voters not to downplay the potential harm GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump may be inflicting on the party's brand with his anti-immigrant campaign platform.

    The Washington Post has run two recent articles that make a case that Trump's consistently hostile remarks about immigrants is having no measurable effect on Latino voters' general opinion of the GOP.

    On August 23, a Post piece claimed that polls weren't showing any negative effect of Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric among Hispanic voters. According to The Post:

    But the worst fears of the Republican establishment, that Trump's unapologetic condemnations of immigration will scuttle their shot at retaking the White House, so far aren't revealing themselves in polling.

    For all of the polling that's been done in the 2016 races so far, there are a lot of gaps. A big one is that most polls don't include large samples of Hispanic voters, making it hard to isolate the views of members of that community. Often, Hispanic voters are grouped with black and Asian voters to form a statistically significant group of "non-white" voters.


    If Trump's comments were hurting him and/or Republicans with voters, we'd expect to see them faring worse after the June/July period in which the comments became public -- and Trump rose in the polls.

    follow-up Post piece on August 26 headlined, "No, Donald Trump isn't hurting Republicans with Latinos," relied on a Gallup Poll to conclude that Trump's "strongly negative image" among U.S. Hispanics hasn't "damaged other Republicans." The article failed to mention the poll's finding that most Hispanics are "still getting to know most of the Republican contenders for president," which means Trump's effect on the GOP-Latino voter dynamic can't be accurately measured yet.

    The Post reached its conclusions despite a high-profile incident a few days earlier, when Trump kicked out Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos, the country's most prominent Hispanic journalist, from a press conference he was holding in Iowa. The Post addressed the incident's potential effect on Hispanic voters by questioning the supposed "guilt by association" theory, which holds that Hispanics will connect Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric to the entire GOP brand.

    A Univision poll bolsters Gallup's findings that Latinos have yet to make up their minds about many GOP candidates, providing more evidence that suggesting Trump's effect on the GOP brand is benign is premature at best, and flat wrong at worst.

    Many media outlets, including Politico, have suggested that Trump and his anti-Latino platform positions may actually be "setting the GOP agenda," noting that "practically every candidate in the race is now engaging in and losing a war of insults, aping Trump's issue agenda and in some instances pilfering his best lines." As evidence of Trump's ability to "influence" other Republicans, NPR ran a segment that featured several conservative Latinos who said they feel alienated by Trump's rhetoric.

    And Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald reposted an analysis by Spanish-language news agency EFE that places Trump well within the Republican camp, suggesting that at least some Hispanic media outlets doesn't consider Trump all that different from his Republican competitors:

    Unfortunately for the other candidates like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, Donald Trump has captured the protagonist's spotlight within the Republican party since he called immigrants "rapists and drug traffickers," defended the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants and proposed building a wall along the Mexican border.

    Additionally, journalists who use the lens of Trump's candidacy to examine the GOP's troubles with Hispanic voters should remember that there has long been a divide between the party and the Latino community. In other words, Trump isn't causing a new Republican rift with this voting bloc, he's exacerbating an existing one.

    That rift was closely examined from within the party itself in a 2012 GOP autopsy report, which concluded that Republicans needed to rebrand themselves with Latinos and "put significant effort and resources into reaching out to Hispanic media and news outlets" as part of a Hispanic outreach effort, after a disastrous loss to Democrats in the general election:

    The RNC must put significant effort and resources into reaching out to Hispanic media and news outlets. This needs to be a high-level presence on all Latino media. The RNC must rebuild an updated, working list of Hispanic surrogates, not just RNC staff, to help carry and sell our message to the Hispanic community. 


    We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities. But it is not just tone that counts. Policy always matters.

    If we believe our policies are the best ones to improve the lives of the American people, all the American people, our candidates and office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.

    If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming. President Bush got 44 percent of the Asian vote in 2004; our presidential nominee received only 26 percent in 2012.

  • Trump Has Now Shut Down Two Of The Most Well-Respected Hispanic Journalists At His Press Conferences

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has dismissed two of the most well-respected Hispanic journalists in the United States at two separate press conferences. He most recently kicked out Jorge Ramos from an Iowa press conference, an event the Univision anchor was later allowed to reenter. 

    Jorge Ramos, Univision and Fusion news host, was ejected from a Dubuque, Iowa press conference being held by presidential candidate Donald Trump on August 25, after Ramos attempted to ask questions about the candidate's controversial stances on undocumented immigrants and immigration reform. Trump told Ramos, "Go back to Univision!" before Ramos was escorted out by Trump's security team. Eventually, he was invited back in and allowed to question the candidate.

    This isn't the first altercation Trump has had with a prominent Hispanic journalist. On July 23, Trump traveled to Laredo to visit the Texas-Mexico border where he also refused to engage MSNBC and Telemundo's main anchor Jose Diaz-Balart, telling the reporter "You're finished!" and that Telemundo should be "ashamed" before touting his $500 million lawsuit against Univision. Unlike with Ramos where Trump claimed he wasn't answering the questions because the Univision host hadn't been called on, Trump called on Diaz-Balart, only to tell the Telemundo host his network "should be ashamed" after Diaz-Balart asked him about his characterization of Mexican immigrants as rapists.

    Ramos and Diaz-Balart are arguably the most popular and visible Hispanic journalists in the United States with an immense media following among Spanish-language speakers. Vox recently called Ramos "the most trusted name in Latino news" noting that he is "generally considered to be the most authoritative newscaster on Spanish-language television." Diaz-Balart previously hosted a presidential town hall on immigration. 

  • Trump Is "Still Right About Mexican Immigrants," According To Ann Coulter

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    Conservative commentator Ann Coulter charged that "Latino culture" accepts "child rape" in order to claim Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is "still right about Mexican rapists."

    Coulter has taken credit for Trump's offensive rhetoric about immigrants, suggesting his campaign announcement remarks that the U.S. is being treated "as a dumping ground" for Mexican immigrants who are "rapists" and "murderers" were inspired by her racist book Adios, America.  

    On August 5, Coulter took to the fringe conspiracy blog World Net Daily to write that Trump is "still right about Mexican rapists": 

    There's a cultural acceptance of child rape in Latino culture that doesn't exist in even the most dysfunctional American ghettos. When it comes to child rape, the whole family gets involved. (They are family-oriented!) 


    Far from "I am woman, hear me roar," these are cultures where women help the men rape kids.


    When the crime is this bizarre, it's not "anecdotal." "Child rape perpetrated by more than one family member" isn't your run-of-the-mill crime. It's rather like discovering dozens of cannibalism cases in specific neighborhoods.

    How many fourth-generation American father-son child-rape duos do we have? How many American brother-sister teams are conspiring in child rape and murder? How many mothers are helping their boyfriends and husbands get away with raping their own children?

    And how many 12-year-old American girls are giving birth - to the delight of their parents?

    In some immigrant enclaves, the police have simply given up on pursuing statutory rape cases with Hispanic victims. They say that after being notified by hospital administrators that a 12-year-old has given birth and the father is in his 30s, they'll show up at the girl's house - and be greeted by her parents calling the pregnancy a "blessing."

    This happens all the time, they say.

    And yet, in the entire American media, there have been more stories about a rape by Duke lacrosse players that didn't happen than about the slew of child rapes by Hispanics that did because Democrats want the votes and businesses want the cheap labor. No wonder they hate Trump.

  • Libre Spokesperson Ignores Improving Economy To Suggest Minorities, Young People Are Worse Off Under Obama

    Blog ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    Libre Initiative spokesperson and recurring Fox News guest host Rachel Campos-Duffy misled viewers about how minorities and young people have fared economically under President Obama, suggesting that his administration has made both groups worse off when the opposite is true.

    On the September 28, 2014 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes, President Obama argued that the United States "is definitely better off" economically than it was when he took office in January 2009. The president said he would compare the success of his response to the "terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis" that he inherited to the response by "any leader around the world." Two days later, Fox New used those remarks to resurrect its misleading line of attack on Obama's economic record.

    During the July 21 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Campos-Duffy picked it up again, claiming, that "single women, minorities, young people -- these people are doing worse than they were before Obama came into office." As evidence, Campos-Duffy cherry-picked data to mask positive trends in the economy, particularly among minorities and young people:

    Campos-Duffy Relied On Outdated Poverty Data 

    During her Cavuto appearance, Campos-Duffy repeated the same outdated claims she made in a January 8, 2014 National Review Online article in which she argued that Hispanic family incomes have dropped and  "2.5 million more Latinos have fallen into poverty" during the Obama administration, proving that "the Obama economy has not been kind to Hispanics."

    In her recent appearance on Fox, Campos-Duffy referenced that same argument from 18 months ago to make a false claim about the number of Hispanics currently living in poverty. According to September 2014 Pew findings, the number actually fell from 13.6 million to 12.7 million from 2012 to 2013 and "the drop in the poverty rates among Hispanics... contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006." Additionally, "the median household income of Hispanics increased" for the first time since 2000. From Pew:

    Hispanics are the only major racial or ethnic group to see a statistically significant decline in its poverty rate, according to 2013 Census Bureau figures released this week. The drop in the poverty rate among Hispanics - from 25.6% in 2012 to 23.5% in 2013 - contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006.


    Meanwhile, the median household income of Hispanics increased by 3.5% to $40,963, the first annual increase since 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Income changes for whites, blacks and Asians were not statistically significant. 

    Unemployment Rate Has Declined For Minorities, Young People 

    Campos-Duffy claimed that minorities and young people were among those "doing worse than they were before Obama came into office."

    According to findings by and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the unemployment rate for Hispanics is "down under Obama," with steady declines among young people as well:

    • The total number of unemployed Hispanics went from 2.2 million in January 2009 to 1.7 million in June 2015.
    • Youth unemployment remains elevated as the labor market recovers from the recession, but just like all other unemployment data, these rates are steadily declining.
    • The "seasonally adjusted unemployment rate" for Hispanics in the U.S. was 6.6 percent in June, dropping from its peak of 12.9 in December 2010. When President Obama took office in 2009, the Hispanic unemployment rate was 10.1 percent.

    The "Obama Economy" Has Provided Years Of Steady Recovery From The "Bush Recession

    Campos-Duffy also argued that Vice President Biden "is in trouble if he's going to run on an Obama economy," which ignores how the U.S. economy under President Obama has steadily improved since the recession that started under President Bush.

    What Campos-Duffy failed to mention is that every American was affected by the recession. According to a September 2014 report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), median income nationwide peaked in 1999, toward the end of the Clinton administration, before receding in the wake of two Bush-era recessions. Median income in the United States in 2013, the most recently available data, was less than it was in 1989, but the decline does not originate with the Obama administration. According to CAP, "America's middle class is struggling to recover from both the Great Recession and the decades of unequal economic growth that preceded it."

    Still, other economic indicators are improving across the board, including in minority communities. Unemployment rates among minorities are decreasing steadily, in line with nationwide trends, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. As of June, the total civilian unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, which is the lowest since April 2008. For African-Americans and Hispanics, unemployment is at 9.5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, evidence of the strongest labor market in either community since the first half of 2008, when the recession was less than six months old.

    According to data from the BLS, unemployment rates peaked nationwide in October 2009 and then steadily declined for for nearly six years.

    The American economy has not fully recovered from its deepest economic contraction since the Great Depression, but it is steadily improving in important ways for minorities and young people. According to the most-recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has contributed to sharp declines in uninsured rates for adults nationwide, which stood at just 11.4 percent at the end of June -- the lowest in the history of Gallup's tracking. The nationwide improvement has been particularly pronounced among minorities and young people:

    Various conservative media outlets predicted that the ACA would be harm the U.S. economy, but the decrease in uninsured rates coupled with the steady decline in unemployment, particularly among minorities and young people, suggests that the so-called "Obama economy" has been kinder than Campos-Duffy claims. According to NBC News, Hispanics are "the group with the largest gains in insurance" because of the health care law.

    Craig Harrington contributed research to this blog.