Leading Latino leaders are criticizing the Fox News website Fox News Latino, saying it lacks credibility among Hispanics by profiting from them even as they are demonized by the conservative parent network known for anti-immigrant coverage.
Since it launched in 2010, Fox News Latino has positioned itself as “the place to go for news that impacts the Latino Community,” covering news, politics, entertainment, and other stories through that lens.
“We were skeptical when we heard about this,” Inez Gonzalez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said of the creation of Fox News Latino. "Fox News is a big voice in the anti-Latino rhetoric, so we were skeptical. Some of the articles that I have seen have been interesting to me, [but] I think the owners are hypocrites. I think they are totally forgetting there is double speak here.
“They should be called on for their hypocrisy because they are blasting Latinos in English media and courting us in Latino media, hoping no one who is reading it is bilingual. I don't use Fox News Latino as a source. I would not use Fox News as a source because I know their history. I would question their statistics because I know where they are coming from. They're still Fox.”
Indeed, the tone of Fox News Latino's coverage of issues like immigration dramatically differs from that of other parts of the Fox News family, which typically adopt a hardline slant.
Last month after President Obama announced that his administration would no longer seek to deport young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children, Fox News Latino covered the story using the headline “Obama Administration Halts Deportations for Undocumented Children” and featuring a photo of a Latina activist in front of the U.S. Capitol.
By contrast, the Fox Nation website headlined its story on the subject “Obama Administration Bypasses Congress, to Give Immunity, Stop Deporting Younger Illegals” accompanied by a photo of handcuffed young Latinos.
Such disparities in coverage between the Latino-focused website and the rest of the right-wing network are frequent, with other instances including a January 2011 border shooting and last month's Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration law.
Fox News hosts and personalities regularly demonize immigrants, refusing to abandon the slur “illegals” though other outlets have done so. The network also cheerleads controversial immigration laws like those in Arizona and Alabama, and outlandish smears of immigrants.
“Their record will ultimately catch up with them, you can't be a media company and think you are hiding your message,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “Latinos aren't dumb. They understand who is on their side and who is not.”
For Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, the entire Fox News Latino approach is a way to profit off Latinos while hurting them on the home network.
“One of the things that is interesting about the Latino situation is how many people see the Latino community as a market to make money from,” he said in an interview. “When you look at the schizophrenia with Latinos on Fox, the bottom line really is to exploit the community for profit. That's really the bottom line. In the case of Fox, that whole motive is very raw, it is really evident they just don't see in themselves any kind of contradiction. It is like two different worlds, they just play off of that.”
Falcón agreed Fox News Latino “covers a lot of good stuff,” but added that Fox News has “written off this community, they are propaganda. This is an admission they are not fair and balanced. It is so obvious.”
Lisa Navarrete, a spokesperson for the National Council of La Raza, also found a profit motive in the Fox News Latino enterprise: “At the end of the day, Murdoch is a business man first and their political views come second. They look at the demographic numbers.”
She said many Latinos have trouble trusting anything from Fox News, even if it comes from a Latino-focused site.
“There is an enormous amount of skepticism in our community on Fox News and how they have dealt with our community,” Navarette said. "It is a huge brand problem because if you say 'Fox News' it triggers in someone that they are going to come to the site with a lot of skepticism.
“They are starting in a hole when they are dealing with our community, our community doesn't trust Fox News, doesn't like Fox News. I have a lot of skepticism about how successful they're going to be.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, also cited Fox News' anti-Latino history in a statement to Media Matters:
Whenever Fox News Channel discusses immigration, they always run B-roll or stock footage of menacing young Latino men scaling the border fence or being arrested, sometimes through night-vision scopes. The images are straight out of a Sharron Angle advertisement. So no matter what you are saying about sensible immigration reform in an interview, the image Fox News Channel is driving home to its audience is that all immigrants are Latino male criminals who came across the southern border.
I go on Fox News Channel anyway because if I didn't, their audience would never hear a perspective that is in line with most Americans and most Republicans, that mass deportation or driving out 10 to 12 million people is silly and we need a different approach.
Fox News and Fox News Latino did not respond to requests for comment.