Right-wing media outlets are manufacturing outrage about President-elect Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary nominee, Xavier Becerra, by fearmongering about his positions on abortion access, immigrant rights, and more.
Becerra currently serves as California’s attorney general and has held this position since 2017. As soon as Becerra’s nomination was announced, right-wing media outlets began to churn out bad faith reports attacking the nominee as extreme or radical. But Becerra’s positions are actually in line with the views of the majority of Americans.
Right-wing media outlets are attacking his support of reproductive rights (good polling shows the majority of Americans support legal access to abortion), Medicare For All (two-thirds of voters support some form of Medicare For All), protections for immigrants (Pew reported that three-quarters of Americans believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S.), and gun safety measures (Pew also reported that the vast majority of Americans support background checks prior to the purchase of a firearm and a federal database to track gun sales).
Here’s the right-wing messaging used to fearmonger about Becerra.
Attacking Becerra for supporting accessible abortion and reproductive health services
Right-wing media are framing Becerra as radically pro-abortion because of his history of support for accessible abortion services and reproductive health care.
- The Daily Caller amplified anti-choice groups’ messaging about Becerra, repeating narratives accusing Biden of being “an extremist on abortion” for nominating him.
- The Daily Wire attacked Becerra for his history of support for abortion access, saying opponents claim he’ll “use the office to target abortion opponents” and that his nomination seems “in line with a potential Biden administration’s approach to pro-lifers and others who have a religious objection to promoting or providing abortion or contraception.”
- The Washington Examiner described Becerra as an “abortion crusader and culture warrior” in a headline.
- Fox News also amplified anti-choice attacks against Becerra, repeating a claim that he is a “gross insult to Catholics” for supporting and defending abortion access.
Fearmongering about Becerra’s support of Medicare For All
Becerra’s support of Medicare For All is being used as a baseless scare tactic to suggest his appointment would hurt doctors, hospitals, and patients.
- The Washington Examiner implied that Becerra’s confirmation could hurt doctors, hospitals, and patients because of his support for Medicare For All, writing:
Although ‘Medicare for all’ would require an act of Congress, an HHS secretary controls the vast regulatory apparatus attached to his or her department. Given that Medicare is the 800-pound gorilla in the medical system, Becerra's ability to throw around its weight could have vast ramifications for doctors, hospitals, and patients.
- The Daily Signal published a report titled “7 Things to Know About Biden’s Radical Choice to Run HHS” that included Becerra’s support of Medicare For All as one othe seven main points, noting:
The choice of Becerra to lead HHS doesn’t reflect well on what Biden presented during his campaign as a moderate agenda, said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
- Fox News published an article accusing Becerra of being a radical, writing, “Xavier Becerra's record should concern those of us who would like to see a greater dose of freedom in our health care.”
- On the December 8 edition of Fox & Friends, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) argued that Becerra’s support of Medicare for All means that he might take away American citizens’ health insurance: “He’s going to be responsible for running Medicare and Medicaid and Obamacare and many other health care programs. He’s going to use the discretion the law gives him to try to take away your health insurance on the job.” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade agreed, calling Becerra’s nomination an “homage to Bernie Sanders.”
Sensationalizing Becerra’s immigration record
Becerra publicly stated that he believes unauthorized immigration should be decriminalized, saying that immigrants “are not criminals. They haven’t committed a crime against someone, and they are not acting violently or in a way that’s harmful to people. And I would argue they are not harming people indirectly either.” These comments are now being sensationalized by right-wing media outlets to suggest that Becerra has a radical position on immigration.
- Fox News attacked Becerra by writing that he “once said that illegal immigration should be decriminalized” and that this was just “one of a number of radical stances he has taken on the subject.”
- The Daily Signal wrote that conservatives consider Becerra “extreme” and listed as a reason his support for “protecting illegal immigration.”
Feigning outrage at Becerra’s lawsuits against the Trump administration
Becerra, on behalf of the state of California, has sued President Donald Trump or his administration over 100 times. This should not be shocking because the purpose of many of these lawsuits was to prevent the Trump administration from overturning critical regulations; half of the lawsuits filed by California were about environmental issues.
- Fox News described Becerra as a “partisan warrior” and said his lawsuits against the Trump administration became “a job credential” for his nomination.
- Fox News also reported that Becerra’s lawsuits against the Trump administration cost California $43 million, but failed to note that this amount is less than 1 percent of California’s yearly budget.
- Lisa Kennedy Montgomery on Fox News’ Outnumbered argued that the only thing Becerra has done “is file lawsuits” and “that's not enough qualification” for the post.
- Reason described Becerra as a “lawsuit-happy government nanny.”
Emphasizing Becerra’s support of basic gun safety measures
Becerra’s vocal support of basic gun safety measures is being twisted and used to scare gun owners.
- Fox News amplified complaints about Becerra’s support of gun safety measures, repeating that his nomination would be a “sharp turn to the far left” on these issues.
- In an article summarizing a clip from Fox host Laura Ingraham’s show, Fox News argued that Becerra’ nomination is a “war on conservatives” and claimed that if confirmed he would be “one of the most radical cabinet secretaries in history” because of his support for, “extreme gun control measures.”
- The Washington Times wrote that Becerra’s nomination “sent a clear signal” about Biden’s “gun control agenda.”