Four ways that Fox is misinforming people about Trump and the Senate GOP's proposal to end the shutdown

Four ways that Fox is misinforming people about Trump and the Senate GOP's proposal to end the shutdown

Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

As the longest government shutdown in history continues, Fox News and Fox Business are doing their part to push a proposal from President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans. But in the proposal, which Trump's media allies insist is a great deal for Democrats, the GOP is offering only temporary fixes to problems Trump created and adding new restrictions for asylum seekers, while ignoring Democrats' primary point -- that Trump is holding the government hostage.

The Trump administration has billed the proposal as a generous compromise for Democrats. Officials claim that it would expand existing protections for about 700,000 immigrants currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, started under President Barack Obama; expand protections for immigrants who currently have temporary protected status (TPS); and provide $800 billion in aid to improve care for children and families at the border.

In exchange, Trump is demanding $5.7 billion to fund a wall on the U.S. southern border and asking for “millions more” funding for law enforcement. This includes “2,750 more border agents and other law enforcement officials, millions of dollars in screening technology to detect drugs at ports of entry, and the hiring of 75 new immigration judges to address the immigration court backlog, which is currently the biggest barrier to deporting people quickly.” The proposal would increase the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget by more than $1 billion. The proposed bill also includes changes to asylum rules for Central American children and teenagers that would allow them “to apply for asylum in their home countries — a modification of an Obama administration program Trump ended in 2017.” In return, the Trump administration wants to change the current immigration law to eliminate automatic court hearings and make it easier to deport children and teenagers who come to the U.S.

Despite the administration's attempt to paint this as a good faith offer, there are many reasons why the Democratic leadership is calling his proposal a “non-starter.” First, the proposed bill does nothing to address the Democratic leadership’s main concern that Congress should not be debating border security while the government is shut down. Second, the concessions that Trump’s administration is eager to offer Democrats would likely have little impact. Trump's attempts to end DACA and TPS are being fought in court, and the Supreme Court has not yet agreed to take up either case, meaning it is unlikely that a three-year, one-time extension will protect DACA and TPS recipients any longer than waiting for an eventual Supreme Court decision would. The time period for immigrants to apply for DACA has ended, and only current DACA recipients are allowed to re-apply every two years. Democrats understand that if “they don’t make a deal, current DACA recipients will remain protected from deportation and able to work for several more months at least.”

The TPS and DACA concessions that Trump's administration is eager to paint as wins for Democrats would actually weaken the programs. Trump’s TPS proposal would eliminate temporary protections for refugees from six of the 10 countries currently covered by the program. The proposal also affects DACA recipients and asylum seekers by imposing stricter penalties for providing incorrect information during the application process, which could result in an application being denied due to minor mistakes. The proposal also determines new requirements for approving an asylum claim, and adds that an application can be rejected for not being “consistent with the national interest.” Lorella Praeli, the ACLU’s deputy national political director, warned ABC News in a statement: "This sham ‘compromise’ would weaken the asylum system, strip vulnerable children of critical safeguards ... and hollow out protections for individuals from countries ravaged by natural disasters or war."

The Democrats have no reason to trust Trump when it comes to immigration because he has flip-flopped on such policy proposals in the past. Trump also did not negotiate this proposed bill with the Democrats, but instead consulted with Vice President Mike Pence, top aide Jared Kushner, and congressional Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham. Finally, the Democrats see the demand of $5.7 billion for a border wall as Trump simply trying to fulfill a racist campaign promise to his base.

Despite this, Trump’s supporters at Fox are trying to boost this bill by pushing it as a great deal for the Democrats, claiming that the proposal offers greater protection for DACA recipients, arguing that the changes to asylum rules are actually positive, and floating the idea that rejecting this proposal would mean Democrats don’t really care about DACA recipients.

Declaring that the proposed bill is a great deal for the Democrats

Fox & Friends’ host Steve Doocy characterized the proposed bill as “a win-win for both sides.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): If those moderate Democrats who we’ve heard on television over the last month or so don't come to the table and put forth a good-faith effort to negotiate an end to this and simply vote in lock step with Chuck Schumer, you got to wonder why -- other than to not allow Donald Trump a win. Because when you look at the deal that the president proposed on Saturday, he gets some wall money, although just about a quarter of what he asked for initially. And the Democrats wind up with DACA protections, humanitarian money close to a billion dollars. It's a win-win for both sides. If they say no, I'm sure people all across America, as Ali just said, are going to blame the Democrats. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/22/19]

Fox Business’ Stuart Varney said that “for the life of me,” he doesn’t understand how Democrats can “keep going with their blanket resistance.” From the January 22 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co:

STUART VARNEY (HOST): Really, I mean, it’s such an obvious deal, isn't it? You take care of the Dreamers, and I think most Americans would like in some way to take care of the Dreamers. But you also build a wall. You stop the problem in the future. And -- for the life of me, I don't see how [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Schumer can keep going with their blanket resistance to anything that Mr. Trump proposes. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 1/22/19]

On Fox’s Special Report with Bret Baier, guest Mollie Hemingway characterized Trump’s offer as “a ridiculously generous proposal.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier:

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (THE FEDERALIST): He is now taking matters into his own hands, working with the vice president, bringing forth this other proposal. It is actually kind of a ridiculously generous proposal, a lot of what the president and [Sen.] McConnell have been suggesting in a way that might even risk losing some of the support that they have from the conservative base. I mean all of this generosity with DACA and the temporary status, and the Central American asylum status-seekers. All of these things, they’re very generous offers -- $5 billion for a wall is really very little money. The idea that you’re not going to see any movement from the other side -- the reason why it might be a problem for Nancy Pelosi is her only talking point is we want to reopen the government. Well, you have to act like -- as Greg said -- you have to act like you’re serious about that, if you really want to do it. If you are not offering anything, not putting anything on the table, not putting forth any realistic compromise and not accepting these really generous offers, it kind of hurts your own talking point. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 1/22/19]

Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth called the proposal a “gift to Democrats,” while Jedediah Bila described the proposal as “a genuine effort on [Trump’s] part to compromise.” From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): And the sort of gift to Democrats was the three years of legal relief, basically a three-year extension of DACA protection for DACA recipients and then a three-year extension of protection for immigrants under a temporary protected status. He held firm on the $5.7 billion, a lot of people looking to see whether he would move on that. And then basically said, “Hey, if you want to reopen the government, I will give you DACA, I will give you other aspects of temporary protected status, only temporarily for three years.” And then I think that gives him room to say, “Well, if you want a full DACA fix, I want even more wall money.” I'm not saying that's where it will go. But -- he didn’t cave on the bigger number, which is what people were looking at.

JEDEDIAH BILA (CO-HOST): I think this was a genuine effort on his part to compromise. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/20/19]

Later on in the show, co-host Ed Henry gushed that Trump is “talking about compromise” and “common sense,” while Bila said that she is “infuriated by the Democrats’ reaction.” From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

ED HENRY (CO-HOST): The Democrats always want to say he's harsh, he wants to divide. Instead he's talking about compromise, he’s talking about common sense, he's talking about compassion. So what were the outlines, what were the specific of that deal -- $800 million in urgent humanitarian aid. So he’s not just talking about cracking down. He's talking about helping people on the border. He also, though, has $805 million for drug detection technology at ports of entry saying, I'm going to be tough on the border. Over 2,700 additional border patrol agents, law enforcement officials. Again, to highlight the crackdown as well, 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce that backlog we hear about, months and months of cases built up, which is why a lot of people end up getting dumped out on the streets of America. And sticking -- holding firm on that number, $5.7 billion in border -- in actual wall funding. But then here's what he's reaching out to Democrats about. Three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients. So there’s not a path to citizenship that Democrats want. They don't get to stay here forever but a three-year pause, which seems like a reasonable compromise. And a three-year extension of TPS, which is essentially Temporary Protection Status for about 300,000 immigrants who are here right now from El Salvador and other countries in Central America.

JEDEDIAH BILA (CO-HOST): I'm actually infuriated by the Democrats' reaction. I really am, because this is all stuff that they've supported in the past. And they’re complaining -- They have complained in the past. You saw Barack Obama even talking about the humanitarian crisis. Well, this addresses that. They have asked for this, for DACA to be addressed, this addresses that. They have in the past supported border security. This addresses that. So he really came to the table with something that should have been palatable to everyone, and for them to just immediately respond the way they did, I mean let's take a look, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, right away saying, “We reject it, we’re not interested.” And Pelosi saying it's unacceptable and a non-starter. Schumer, “more hostage-taking.” How do you have that reaction? [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/20/19]

On America’s News Headquarters, Fox guest Patrice Onwuka characterized Trump’s proposals as “concessions.” From the January 19 edition of Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters:

PATRICE ONWUKA (INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S FORUM): You know, I’d like to believe that, I’d like to hope so. Those are two pretty big concessions on the part of the administration in saying “Listen, we actually want Democrats to come to the table and not be on vacation or sorry, traveling, outside of the country, going on junkets or whatever the case may be.” I mean, I think at this point it would be good to see progressives actually put forward a hand and say “Hey, we’re actually willing to make some concessions as well and meet the president and Congress and Republicans halfway here.” Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like that's going to happen. [Fox News, America’s News Headquarters, 1/19/19]

Claiming that the proposal is a good deal for DACA recipients and offers greater protection

Fox & Friends guest Ali Noorani claimed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has “an incredible opportunity” to allow immigrants to “retain their legal status.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

ALI NOORANI (NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM): The Senate majority leader has an incredible opportunity in front of him to put 800,000 people back into solvency. They’re going to be missing their second paycheck at the end of the week. Sen. McConnell can not only strike a deal that gets their paychecks with you, but also get President Trump the border resources that he’s looking for and permanent protections for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival and Temporary Protected Status. You put those two numbers together, we are talking about 1.8 million people who are getting a paycheck or being able to retain their legal status. Sen. McConnell has got an incredible opportunity to bring Schumer and Pelosi to the table to strike a compromise. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/22/19]

Fox & Friends guest Linda Vega falsely claimed that currently “applicants are not able to re-apply for benefits” and that Trump’s proposed bill would give recipients the chance to “permanent residency … or to actually work and pay taxes.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

LINDA VEGA (IMMIGRATION LAWYER): Well the rush is currently -- applicants are not able to re-apply or apply for any benefits. They're at a standstill. If they're in court proceedings they're being deported. This plan, this three-year offer by the president would offer them the opportunity to adjust their status to permanent residency, or to continue studying in the country, or to actually work and pay taxes. It's a great offer for a starting point. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/22/19]

Arguing that the changing asylum rules to limit asylum is actually good

On Fox News’ The Five, co-host Jesse Watters listed “changes to the asylum” procedures as “logical arguments” that Democrats “just can’t argue with.” From the January 21 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

JESSE WATTERS (CO-HOST): These logical arguments, they just can't argue with. All they say is, “Oh, it's mean.” So if you look at what he's offering, he's offering humanitarian assistance. He's offering changes to the asylum. He says only 280 additional walls to be needed and to be built. And what are they saying? No? And millions of people are still not getting paid. I don't think that's very compassionate. [Fox News, The Five, 1/22/19]

When listing Trump’s proposals on Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine, host Jeanine Pirro characterized the changes to asylum rules by saying, “Now young people can seek asylum in their country.” From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine:

JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): The president described in clear and direct language the human crises ranging from 300 of our children dying every week from heroin -- 90 percent of which comes through those porous Mexican borders. Now young people can seek asylum in their country without traveling with those dangerous human traffickers and coyotes. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 1/20/19]

Accusing Democrats of not caring about DACA recipients if they do not accept the proposed bill

Fox News’ host Sean Hannity accused Democrats of scoring “cheap political points” instead of caring about DACA recipients, while Trump is making “honest efforts. From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): So the president is trying to do his job. Honest efforts, reaching out to the Democratic Party in every possible way. An invitation a day, they won't meet him. They are too busy traveling on paid junkets and using taxpayer money. Once again, they want to score cheap political points. I thought they cared about the furloughed workers. Apparently not. I guess they cared about the DACA kids, apparently not, and the Dreamers, apparently not

While Democrats dig in and obstruct, even some in the hate-Trump media are beginning to admit that the president is making Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats look pretty stupid. [Fox News, Hannity, 1/22/19]

On Fox News’ Outnumbered, co-host Katie Pavlich claimed that “people are starting to notice” that Pelosi cares “more about politically scoring points than she is about scoring points for the people she claims to want to protect.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:

KATIE PAVLICH (co-host): At the same time that Nancy Pelosi continues to play games, and the president gives them things that they voted for in the past, whether it's barriers on the border or protections for DACA recipients, Dreamers, their parents. They continued to say no. He's put many, many things on the table. I think that Nancy Pelosi takes for granted her voting base and the base of the left. Because, as Harris -- you always brings up, she's been protested before for not protecting DACA recipients in a way that she has promised to do. I think that people are starting to notice that when push comes to shove and it's put on the table, she is more about politically scoring points than she is about scoring points for the people she claims to want to protect. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 1/22/19]

Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Ed Henry claimed that “DACA recipients and others [are] saying that they are getting frustrated with Nancy Pelosi and the democratic leaders. From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

ED HENRY (CO-HOST): Democrats love to talk about about, “Oh, the president’s under pressure from his right flank. And Ann Coulter’s not happy with a deal like this, and she pressured him into a government shutdown.” What they don't like to talk about is how there are some on the left now, DACA recipients and others, saying that they are getting frustrated with Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leaders. That they promised the DACA recipients the moon and they are not delivering. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/20/19]

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.