Today, Media Matters for America published a report on Fox News' coverage of immigration issues starting with the passage of Arizona's SB 1070 in April 2010 through Alabama's crackdown in June 2011. The results are unsurprising: Fox overwhelmingly hosted guests and ran segments that were disparaging to immigrants and looked positively upon harsh enforcement tactics. While individuals brought on to discuss immigration qualified as "anti-immigrant" more than 60 percent of the time, one show stood out for its persistent one-sidedness. In the 4 p.m. hour, Your World With Neil Cavuto hosted 77 guests, with 84 percent having an anti-immigrant slant.
Cavuto's two most frequent guests were Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, who appeared five times, and Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh, who appeared seven times. Both Republican lawmakers were major players in the passage of SB 1070. While providing Pearce and Kavanagh with a platform to broadcast their views, Cavuto consistently let their anti-immigrant rhetoric go unchallenged.
Pearce is notorious for making inflammatory statements about immigrants. For example, in 2005, Pearce was caught circulating an email from a white separatist organization and soliciting donations from anti-immigrant and nativist hate groups. After the passage of SB 1070, Pearce compared immigrants to "cow[s] with mad cow disease" and called a Latina opponent an "idiot" during a CNN interview. Cavuto never mentioned Pearce's dubious record on the air.
Similarly, Cavuto allowed anti-immigration rhetoric to trump facts in his interviews with John Kavanagh. In a July 30, 2011, segment, Kavanagh responded to the possible policy changes outlined in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo by invoking Willie Horton, the convicted murder who was featured in a racially tinged 1988 campaign ad against Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis:
KAVANAGH: Clearly, the circulation of this memo creates three possible scenarios. One is that President Obama is actually going to legalize 12 to 20 million people here. This would be a political earthquake 7.0. And I don't think he`s going to do that.
Not only would it confirm the people's fears that he's power-crazy, but, in addition, he would purchase personally several million Willie Hortons, because any one of these people he legalized who later commits a rape or a murder or gets drunk and mows down a family, he's going to own that crime. So, I don`t think he would go that far.
Later in the interview, Kavanagh received no pushback when he falsely characterized comprehensive immigration reform as "blanket amnesty."
Over the same period, Kavanagh appeared only once on MSNBC -- alongside a pro-immigrant guest to dispute his claims -- and did not appear on CNN. Pearce appeared three times on MSNBC and 10 times on CNN.