Fox News' lies about Chuck Schumer and NYC terror attack work their way across the country

Patrons at a rural Midwest diner parroted lies spread by Fox & Friends while being interviewed on the program

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

A series of Fox & Friends interviews at a diner in rural Indiana this morning put the pervasive impacts of the Fox News propaganda mill on full display. Patrons some 750 miles removed from the recent terror attack in New York City reiterated the network’s misleading talking points about Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) supposed role in allowing the attack to occur.

Fox & Friends correspondent Todd Piro asked patrons of Indy’s Family Restaurant in Martinsville, IN, to share their thoughts about the October 31 truck attack in Manhattan, which he claimed is “front and center on everybody’s mind” in the tiny community. Two patrons pointedly blamed Schumer -- and his support 27 years ago for the diversity visa lottery program -- for the attack, saying that “those eight people would be alive today” if he had never supported the visa program and claiming that he has “blood on his hands”:

PATRON: It’s vital that we protect our country, and the geniuses that came up with this idea -- and I hear from the news it was Sen. Schumer and Teddy Kennedy [a senator at the time] was the one that pushed this through -- those eight people would be alive today if those geniuses had kept their thoughts to themselves.

TODD PIRO: You say the diversity visa is a horrible idea. Why do you say that?

PATRON: It's a bad idea because bad things result from it. I think when Chuck Schumer passed that bill -- we have Americans dying now because of the folks that come in because of this. We have enough of our own problems without importing more problems. And, it's just my opinion, but Chuck Schumer has got blood on his hands. And we are sacrificing our citizens on the altar of diversity, and I’m not happy about it.

These Martinsville residents may as well have been reading from the teleprompter back at Fox & Friends, which amplified the misleading attack on Schumer yesterday morning and was rewarded moments later by a tweet in which President Donald Trump echoed the show’s lies. Even the phrase “importing more problems” was directly sampled from a Fox & Friends guest whom Trump quoted. Fox continued its smear campaign against Schumer last night on Hannity, and now those attacks have become lodged in the consciousness of conservative-media consumers.

In reality, the diversity visa lottery program was just one part of legislation then-Rep. Schumer introduced in 1990, which enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate before Republican President George H.W. Bush signed it into law. Furthermore, Schumer joined a bipartisan group of senators in 2013 to end the diversity visa as part of a push for comprehensive immigration reform; the proposed reforms were eventually abandoned amid intense pressure from right-wing antagonists, including Trump.

Diversity visas have helped hundreds of thousands of aspiring immigrants move to the United States, including an Egyptian Muslim man who helped prevent a terror attack in New York City, but the program has become the target of anti-immigrant backlash in the wake of this week’s attack.