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  • Fox mimics its irresponsible reporting on Steinle case in coverage of Border Patrol agent's death

    Fox distorted facts of Steinle's case to criminalize undocumented immigrants. It's applying the same failed logic to Rogelio Martinez's case.

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News' reporting on undocumented immigrants was discredited not once, but twice this week. On Wednesday, new reporting suggested that the death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez -- which Fox had immediately declared “a vicious attack” by undocumented immigrants before any investigation had taken place -- may have been the result of a traffic accident. And on Thursday, a jury found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant who Fox had dedicated significant airtime to accusing of cold-blooded murder, not guilty of the murder charge. The revelations demonstrate Fox's habit of jumping to conclusions and distorting facts in order to hype crime committed by undocumented immigrants for political purposes.

    On November 18, Martinez and another Border Patrol agent were discovered badly injured in a ravine area along the southern border, where they were responding to a sensor that had been triggered that signaled movement along the border. Border Patrol union officials claimed the agents were attacked with rocks by a group of undocumented immigrants. However, a local sheriff told Dallas Morning News that “the evidence is not obvious as to what happened out there” and that “the injuries to [Martinez], after talking to his doctors, were consistent with a fall.” On November 29, Dallas Morning News reported more updates, writing, “Evidence gathered at the scene does not suggest an assault, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the investigation say. The possibility that Rogelio Martinez and his partner were sideswiped by a tractor trailer’s side mirror on a moonless night is growing theory, they said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.”

    Nonetheless, Fox was quick to report the union officials’ account as fact. Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed that Martinez was “attacked at the border in the most gruesome possible way,” asking, “Will this change any minds about addressing illegal immigration and securing the border once and for all?” Host Laura Ingraham described the incident as “a vicious attack” and used it to justify Trump’s call for a border wall. Sandra Smith reported it as an “apparent ambush.” Even after Fox finally acknowledged Tuesday morning that “investigators also say they have not ruled out an accident” and that the sheriff was “cautioning people not to jump to conclusions just yet” because “there is some discussion that these agents fell … by accident,”  Fox anchor Julie Banderas used the incident as a way to misleadingly sow fears about immigration and sanctuary cities:

    Fox's coverage of Martinez's death is reminiscent of how the network covered the death of Kate Steinle, who was accidentally shot by an undocumented immigrant in 2015. For years, Fox has pointed to Steinle as justification for cracking down on so-called sanctuary cities, exploited her death to paint immigrants as criminals, and even proposed anti-immigrant legislation based on a distorted view of the case. As it turned out, the defendant in the Steinle case was acquitted on charges of murder, manslaughter, and assault with a deadly weapon, and was convicted only of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

    Similary, Tucker Carlson repeatedly had touted a case out of Rockville, MD, in which two undocumented immigrants were accused of raping a 14-year-old girl. As The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote, “Carlson demagogued a rape case involving immigrants. Then they were cleared.”

    It may turn out, once the investigation has been completed and the facts established, that Martinez was in fact murdered. Fatal on-duty attacks on Border Patrol agents are extremely rare, but they happen. But as the investigation continues and the evidence points toward an accident, it is eminently clear that Fox has little interest in waiting for the facts of the case and instead prefers to once again exploit a tragedy to criminalize all immigrants and push for their anti-immigrant policy agenda.

  • Fox & Friends used an MSNBC report to promote a border wall. MSNBC’s correspondent called them out for getting it wrong.

    MSNBC's Jacob Soboroff: "CBP says in our full story, that FOX didn't play, 'we don't have any intentions of fencing off the entire SW border. It's not necessary.'"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox & Friends selectively aired parts of an MSNBC report about prototypes for the border wall President Donald Trump wants to construct along the U.S.-Mexico border, claiming that the report “accidentally showed why a wall is needed” because it showed asylum-seekers scaling a part of a fence that already exists on the border. Later, future Fox prime-time host Laura Ingraham commented that “MSNBC actually kind of stumbled into reporting on the border.”

    In a series of tweets, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff ripped the segment, noting that the Fox hosts “got it so very wrong” and told “many lies” about the MSNBC package. As Soboroff pointed out, Fox & Friends only aired “38 seconds of a 3 minute report.” The full report -- which was a pre-taped package, and not, as Fox reported, aired live -- actually showed that the asylum-seekers sought to turn themselves into Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and showed CBP saying that they “don’t have any intentions of fencing off the entire southwest border. It’s not necessary.”

    From the October 24 edition of Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): You know those great big panels, the test panels of the new wall, they had them up near San Diego. And there was an MSNBC reporter doing a report on just those.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): These were prototypes of these walls, which will eventually go up if we can finally get financing for them. At which time, when doing it, you see this reporter, Jacob Soberoff, noticed something happening by that wall.

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): He asks -- are we going to watch the video? Listen to this.

    […]

    KILMEADE: Yeah, so it turns out we might need that wall. How about a better wall? It turns out.

    EARHARDT: How about if you’re going to jump the wall, which you shouldn't do, don't do it when national cameras are filming you. 

    DOOCY: MSNBC accidentally showed why a wall is needed. 

    EARHARDT: Exactly. 

    DOOCY: So, way to go. 

  • How Fox promoted convicted criminal Joe Arpaio, who may be pardoned by Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Over the past two decades, Fox News and Fox Business frequently praised and hosted Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, elevating him to national recognition. Now Arpaio, who was recently convicted of criminal contempt of court in a racial profiling case, has said that he would accept a pardon from President Donald Trump -- and Trump is reportedly considering it. Trump praised Arpaio's birther "investigation" in 2012, was endorsed by Arpaio during the campaign, and has lauded the sheriff's anti-immigrant work.

    On July 31, Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court after he defied “a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.” As The New York Times noted, the order originated from a lawsuit filed a decade ago “charging that the sheriff’s office regularly violated the rights of Latinos, stopping people based on racial profiling, detaining them based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally, and turning them over to the immigration authorities.”

    Arpaio has a long record of employing “humiliating and inhumane” treatment of prisoners; he became infamous in 1993, after he was elected sheriff, for opening an outdoor Tent City Jail where inmates were made to live outside in tents in triple-digit Arizona heat. Additionally, Arpaio fed prisoners rotten food, instituted all-female and juvenile chain gangs, and used webcams to broadcast scenes from a jail including a feed “that showed female inmates using a toilet.” The Department of Justice (DOJ) began investigating Arpaio for illegal racial profiling in 2008 and accused him of “unconstitutional policing” in December 2011.

    Yet, over the years, Fox News Network worked to enhance Arpaio’s stature, hosting him no less than 65 times on Fox News and Fox Business from March 1999 through early September 2016, according to a search of Nexis transcripts. In July 2000, Fox host Sean Hannity gushed over Arpaio’s use of webcams in jail, and, in an earlier episode, praised Arpaio’s treatment of inmates by terming it “deterrence.” In 2014, Neil Cavuto criticized the DOJ’s investigation into Arpaio, telling him, “You've been treated more as a criminal than the criminals you're rounding up.” In 2010, Eric Bolling encouraged Arpaio to run for governor of Arizona.

    Fox has also repeatedly ignored Arpaio’s failings as sheriff. Fox News and Fox Business almost completely ignored an Associated Press report from December 2011 that Arpaio mishandled hundreds of sex-crimes cases while also giving him a platform to attack the Obama administration and claim he was a victim of a witch hunt. A year before, in 2010, Fox had hyped a claim from Arpaio’s lawyer that his client’s office was “transparent” in its operation, even though a federal judge had sanctioned Arpaio’s office “for destroying evidence in a racial-profiling case.”

    During his presidential campaign, Trump proudly touted an endorsement from Arpaio at least four times during interviews on Fox, according to Nexis transcripts. He declared Arpaio “the king of the borders” and said, “When [Arpaio] endorses you, that means you have the best border plan.” In March 2016, Trump claimed on Hannity that Arpaio “doesn’t get enough credit for the incredible job he’s doing.” After Trump won the Arizona Republican primary, he thanked Arpaio on Twitter for his help. Trump evidently thought so highly of Arpaio’s racial discrimination and other illegal acts that he reportedly considered appointing Arpaio to head the Department of Homeland Security.

    And Trump’s public admiration for Arpaio extends back to before his campaign began, dating at least to Obama’s re-election. Trump and Arpaio were in lockstep on the racist birther conspiracy theory, which alleged that Obama was not born in America and was thus ineligible to be president. While Trump’s public attacks on Obama’s legitimacy as president began months before Arpaio’s “Cold Case Posse” began scrutinizing Obama’s publicly released birth certificate, Trump repeatedly tweeted support of Arpaio’s “investigation” into Obama’s birth certificate in July 2012:

    It was Fox News that first reported that Trump was "seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio" in "a conversation with Fox News at his club in Bedminster, N.J." If indeed Arpaio is pardoned for his criminal conduct, the credit may just belong to the president's favorite news network.

  • Right-Wing Media Figures Want Trump To Shut Down The Government So They Can Blame Democrats

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Right-wing media figures are displeased after the likelihood of a government shutdown seemed to fade following a breakthrough after days of failed negotiations and speculation. Specifically, right-wing media figures cheered the idea of a shutdown because they wanted to make sure that “Democrats get blamed” and to exact revenge after, as they claimed, Democrats made previous shutdowns “as painful as possible.”

  • Cable News Hosts Anti-Muslim Extremists To Defend Trump’s Muslim Ban

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Just a few days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. entry for refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, CNN and Fox News both hosted anti-immigrant extremists or members of designated hate groups to discuss the president’s move, effectively legitimizing and normalizing these groups. Neither CNN nor Fox correctly labeled any of the guests as belonging to groups that pursue fiercely anti-Muslim, anti-refugee agendas.

  • Right-Wing Media Wrongly Cite Obama To Justify Trump’s Muslim Ban

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media figures echoed misleading claims from President Donald Trump’s administration that his executive order seeking to ban travel from seven specific, predominantly Muslim countries “came from the Obama administration,” citing what they call a 2011 “ban” on “immigration from Iraq” and the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015. But, as experts have noted, the comparison to the Obama administration's actions in 2011 and 2015 are “misleading,” as “The Obama administration’s 2011 review came in response to specific threat information” and was not an “outright ban,” and the 2015 legislation still allowed visa applications from those seven countries.

  • CNN Lets Paul Ryan Push Discredited "Welfare Cliff" Myth During Town Hall Event

    Ryan Hypes Right-Wing Media Fiction About “Benefit Cliffs” As “The Core” Of His Anti-Poverty Agenda

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    CNN allowed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) to use a town hall event to promote his widely criticized “Better Way” poverty reform agenda unchallenged, including the discredited “welfare cliff” myth long promoted by right-wing media.

    A member of the audience -- a Catholic priest and registered Republican -- asked Ryan what plans he had “to meet the basic human needs of the poor in this country, even if they’re here illegally,” during a July 12 town hall hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper. The questioner juxtaposed the moral imperative to serve individuals “as human beings” without asking them “for their documentation” with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “inhumane” stance on immigration.

    Ryan’s initial response was littered with right-wing media talking points about President Obama’s supposed unwillingness to “secure the border” in order to fix the country’s “broken immigration system.” Ryan’s response then shifted to a supposed solution to poverty, which was also focused on myths frequently trumpeted by right-wing media, including how welfare “benefit cliffs” trap recipients in poverty. Ryan incorrectly claimed that the government’s “current approach” to poverty actually “perpetuates” it, and suggested that a “single mom with two kids” earning roughly $24,000 per year (barely above the federal poverty threshold) would rather live in poverty than get a raise “because of all the benefits she [would lose]” (emphasis added):

    PAUL RYAN: Let me get to the poverty point you mentioned. Please take a look at our agenda. This is one of the most important reforms that I think we’re offering. Which is a better way to solve poverty -- “A Better Way To Fight Poverty.” Go to better.gop -- better.gop is where we’ve released our agenda. I spent the last four years going around this country visiting with poor communities, learning about the poor, and the suffering, and better ideas for fighting poverty. We’ve put in a very aggressive plan to go at the root causes of poverty, to try and break the cycle of poverty, and I would argue our current approach at the government of fighting poverty treats symptoms of poverty, which perpetuates poverty.

    Our welfare system replaces work. It doesn't incentivize work. And as a result, we are trapping people in poverty. It's not working. So we think that there's a better way of reigniting what I call upward mobility, the American idea, and getting people out of poverty. Please take a look at these ideas. We have lots of them. I’d love to get into it if you give me time. But this is one of the things that we are talking about. Engaging with our fellow citizens, especially those who have slipped through the cracks, especially those that have no hope, that we have better ideas for helping them get back on their feet and converting our welfare system not into a poverty trap, but a place to get people from welfare to work.

    JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Give me one idea. One poverty idea.

    RYAN: Benefit cliffs. Right now, you stack all these welfare programs on top of each other and it basically pays people not to work. So you know who the highest tax rate payer (sic)? It’s not Anderson Cooper or Jake Tapper; it is the single mom with two kids making maybe -- earning $24,000, who will lose 80 cents on the dollar by taking a job or getting a raise because of all the benefits she loses. So, what happens is, we disincentivize work. We need to taper those benefits cliffs, customize welfare benefits to a person’s particular needs, and encourage work. So, you’ve got so much time to get these benefits, you have to have work requirements or job training requirements. Customize benefits to help a person with their problem. Whether it's addiction, whether it's education, or transportation.

    Catholic Charities, by the way, is the model that I'm talking about. This is basically the Catholic Charities model. Customize support to a person and always make work pay. Make sure that you take the principles that we’ve used for welfare reform in the '90s, which are no longer really working or in place these days, to get people from welfare to work. And that's the core of what we are proposing.

    The term "welfare cliff" was popularized by Pennsylvania's Republican-appointed Secretary of Public Welfare in a July 2012 report, which claimed a "single mom" could nearly double her net income by taking full advantage of nine distinct anti-poverty programs. But the concept of a trade-off between welfare and work dates back to a flawed Cato Institute study from 1995. One thing these studies have in common is the base calculation of benefits available to a hypothetical "single mom" with children. Most American workers aren't single mothers, most recipients of government benefits don't enroll in every single available program, and the value of federal benefit programs like welfare is less now than it was in years past -- facts that are not acknowledged in right-wing media discussions of anti-poverty programs.

    Right-wing media outlets have repeatedly promoted the fantasy that low-income Americans would rather live in poverty than risk losing supposedly generous government benefits, and Paul Ryan is known for loyally parroting right-wing talking points about poverty. In fact, Ryan’s entire “Better Way” anti-poverty agenda for 2016 is built on right-wing media myths, including the so-called “benefit cliff” talking point. Journalists and experts slammed Ryan’s poverty plan, calling it a “seriously flawed” approach “based on faulty assumptions,” and concluding it is seemingly “designed to make it much harder for people in need” to access poverty alleviation programs. The same was true of his much-heralded 2014 anti-poverty plan. Ryan is right that there is a better way to fight poverty, but research by actual economists points to a reform agenda more like the factually based plan put forward by the Center for American Progress than the rehashing of right-wing myths endorsed by Ryan.

    View the full exchange on poverty and immigration from CNN’s House Speaker Paul Ryan Town Hall:

  • James O’Keefe Is Still Not a Journalist

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Since 2009, self-described “guerilla journalist” James O’Keefe has repeatedly embarrassed himself while attempting to launch undercover stings targeting government agencies, media outlets, and  liberal organizations and institutions.