Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, released a statement Thursday, declaring that it was rescinding the invitation for Fox News to cosponsor the organization’s presence at the upcoming Excellence In Journalism conference in San Antonio, TX — and returning Fox’s check for $16,666 as part of the deal.
The reason: continued commentary on Fox News that presents immigration at the U.S. southern border as an “invasion” of the country by “illegal aliens,” even in the weeks after the August 3 mass shooting by a white nationalist in El Paso, TX. Fox News has continued to push this language on its broadcasts, which the NAHJ says it has attempted to discuss with Fox management for years — and apparently alluded to some kind of weak response by the network: “The latest ‘regret’ by Fox News is one of many where the immigrant community and by association, all Hispanics and Latinos, have been demonized by voices with high visibility due to there being little to no consequences by management.”
The statement also presents the current crisis in stark terms: “Soon after the mass shooting in El Paso, like so many families and parents, I had a conversation with my wife and children about the tragedy. My 16-year old daughter and 13-year old son asked me if we should stop speaking Spanish in public for fear of being a target. I lied to them…I lied when I said they shouldn’t be afraid and defiantly told them we are not going to stop conversing with one another in Spanish in public. I lied. I am afraid.”
The statement singles out Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes, who just last week compared the influx of undocumented immigrants into the United States to “the Nazis invading France and Western Europe.”
The statement also links Starnes’ rhetoric to persecution of vulnerable communities by the Trump administration.
Starnes unapologetically states that America has “suffered” from the “invasion of a rampaging hoard of illegal aliens”, claiming that most “illegal immigrants” are violent criminals as well as casually using a reference for their immigration to the United States with the Nazis invading France and Western Europe in World War II.
Starnes brazen language is symptomatic of a culture that provides a megaphone for disinformation by those in power with agendas, including the Trump administration at the cost of the most vulnerable – immigrant communities.
(Starnes’s history of antipathy to multiculturalism goes back a long way: In 2014, he wrote an item on Fox’s website about his consternation at going to a grocery store in New York City and seeing a display labeled “Hispanic cheese.”)
While Balta is focusing on Starnes in this instance, the problems at Fox News clearly go far beyond just one radio and web show host. Other personalities at the network who have used the “invasion” rhetoric to describe Hispanic immigration include Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, Pete Hegseth, Stuart Varney, Mike Huckabee, Tomi Lahren, and more. This language is integrally tied to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, to which the El Paso shooting suspect subscribed, alleging a dedicated effort to erase the white majority demographics in the United States.
Balta’s statement also discloses that the group had asked the event’s partners, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association, to return their own equal shares of $16,666 each (from the total $50,000 sponsorship by Fox News). Those other groups, however, declined to do so.