Fox News vs. Fox News Latino: A border shooting, and questions of tone

I've written before about the differences in tone between Fox News and their latest online venture, Fox News Latino. On the one hand, Fox News Latino is designed to expand Fox's audience to incorporate the rapidly growing Hispanic demographic. On the other hand, Fox News has long had an editorial stance towards Hispanics that could best be described as “hostile.”

That dichotomy is on display again with news that the family of a Mexican teenager who was shot and killed by a border patrol agent in El Paso has filed a $25 million wrongful death suit.

First the facts behind the story. On June 7, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, 15, was shot in the head by a border patrol agent as several people were being arrested for illegally crossing the border. The FBI claims that Hernandez was among a group of people throwing rocks at the border agents, and that rock throwing has long been a justification for using lethal force. The family's attorney says that witnesses deny any rock throwing and claim that a video of the incident backs up their statements.

At Fox News Latino, the news of the lawsuit was handled in a straightforward manner, with a brief report on the filing of the suit and some background for the story with an accompanying stock photo of the U.S./Mexico border.

On Fox News, the story was treated differently.

Yesterday on Fox News' Happening Now, anchor Jon Scott conducted an interview with the slain teenager's family's attorney. In introducing the combative segment, Scott referred to undocumented immigrants simply as “illegals” -- a dehumanizing shorthand frequently encountered on the network -- and aired several grainy video clips of rocks being thrown at the U.S./Mexico border. Remember, the family attorney denies the claim that the boy threw rocks and that the video of the shooting corroborates this. But Fox News aired other video clips of other people throwing rocks at the border.

Watch the video of the segment below:

Now, this obviously isn't the most flagrant example of Fox News' anti-immigrant rhetoric, but it's also important to keep in mind that this is program is part of Fox News' “hard news” lineup. And it serves as yet another example of Fox News' cynical attempt to court Latinos while simultaneously maintaining an antagonistic posture towards Hispanic interests.