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  • Media outlets are citing a hate group in reports about Trump's planned census change for 2020

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Media outlets are citing the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in reports about the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which experts say will jeopardize its accuracy.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has called CIS founder John Tanton “the father of the modern nativist movement” and designated his organization a hate group because it “churns out a constant stream of fear-mongering misinformation about Latino immigrants.” Also contributing to the decision to designate was CIS' “repeated circulation of white nationalist and anti-Semitic writers in its weekly newsletter and the commissioning of a policy analyst who had previously been pushed out of the conservative Heritage Foundation for his embrace of racist pseudoscience.” CIS personnel have a record of making racist commentary and portraying immigrants as dangerous criminals. Yet, all too often, media outlets treat CIS as a credible voice in immigration debates, and they frequently fail to identify either its anti-immigrant views or its white nationalist ties.

    This is happening again in reports regarding the Trump administration’s announcement that it will add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. At least a dozen states oppose the move and have indicated they will sue the administration to prevent the question from being added, and census and civil rights experts have said adding such a question will reduce response rates from immigrants, jeopardizing the census’ accuracy. Yet CIS has defended the addition of a citizenship question, and news reports from both conservative and mainstream outlets are discussing the organization’s support of the Trump administration move.

    A Minnesota Star Tribune article quoted CIS, as did a column from the Boston Herald’s Adriana Cohen. D.C.’s ABC affiliate station WJLA (owned by the pro-Trump Sinclair Broadcasting Group) also cited CIS research, and ABC Radio’s D.C. affiliate WTOP briefly cited CIS’ defense of adding the citizenship question. Four different Fox News shows also cited CIS in their March 27 coverage of the census change: Happening Now, Outnumbered Overtime, The Daily Briefing, and Special Report. A March 28 FoxNews.com column defending the administration’s move linked to a CIS study. Fox host Laura Ingraham’s radio show hosted CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian on March 27 to criticize Democrats’ response to the move, and Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard extensively quoted CIS to justify adding a citizenship question to the census.

    Only WTOP and the Star Tribune mentioned CIS’ agenda, saying simply that the group “pushes for decreased immigration” and has “advocated for tougher immigration regulations.” But those descriptors hardly inform voters about CIS’ problematic origins or its continuing associations with white nationalists and other bigots. Legitimate media outlets should not cite anti-immigrant groups as sources of unbiased information at all -- and if they do, they should clearly label them as such.

  • A Short Guide To Mark Levin, Trump’s Likely Source For His Wiretapping Lie

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On March 4, President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of ordering his phones in Trump Tower to be wiretapped during the 2016 election. Trump’s claim echoed points made by Mark Levin, a right-wing talk radio host with a history of anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ statements, climate denial, and racism. He also attacked Obama throughout his presidency, comparing him to dictators, accusing him of racism and anti-Semitism, and saying he had “planted the seeds of World War III.”

  • 3 Bizarre Conservative Reactions To The Background Check Deal

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Conservatives have responded to the bipartisan Senate proposal to expand thebackground check system for firearms purchases with apocalyptic, conspiratorial, and absurd rhetoric.

    On April 10, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced they had reached an agreement on an amendment that would require criminal and mental health background checks for those seeking to purchase firearms at gun shows and online. The proposal is likely to be added to legislation currently being debated in the Senate. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support requiring a background check for more gun buyers.

    Levin Links Deal To Communism, Facism, Genocide

    Right wing radio host Mark Levin compared the deal to policies that bring about "genocide," arguing that "the greatest inhumanities ever committed have been by centralized governments against their people."

    From the April 10 edition of Cumulus Media's The Mark Levin Show:

    I just want to remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that the greatest inhumanity -- the greatest inhumantity has been committed by centralized governments against their people. The greatest inhumanity ever committed has been by centralized government against their people. Whether we call it national socialism or communism or facsism, I just call it all statism to make it easy, borrowing from Aristotle to Reagan.

    You and I can't commit genocide. You and I can't destroy a nation from within.

    There are many sick people in this world. They're killers. They kill people. They'll be killing people today. They'll be killing people tonight. I wish it wasn't so, but it is so. There are many evil people on the face of this earth. The way we try to deal with them is through law enforcement. The way we try to deal with them is culling them out from the rest of society and punishing them.

    But the more that we put down the law-abiding people, the more we herd and shepherd the law-abiding people, the more information we gather on the law-abiding people, put them in central government databases and all the rest, the more we're destroying our society.

    We are free people. We are a good people. These politicians seek to define you and me, by the evil people. And so they project these images onto you and me, and then they try and pass laws to control us, and deny us of liberty.

    Erickson: Christians Will Be Denied Guns Due To Beliefs

    Fox News contributor Erick Erickson claimed in a series of tweets that the mental health provisions in the agreement would allow a doctor to say someone was "crazy for believing in resurrected Jesus" which would lead to "liberal docs" barring the faithful from gun ownership.

    Bolling Fearmongers Deal Will Lead To National Gun Registry, Which Deal Actually Bans (Again)

    Fox News host Eric Bolling argued that the deal was "knocking on the door to a national registry." In fact, creating a national registry is already illegal and the proposal reaffirms that illegal status andincreases the penalty for creating a registry.

    As the Huffington Post reported, "In addition to a potential jail sentence of 15 years, officials who create a gun registry or misuse federal records on gun sales or ownership would face a monetary fine."

  • Sean Hannity Falsely Claims "Every Single Person" Would Have Kept Their Job Without Auto Rescue

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Sean Hannity falsely claimed that the auto industry rescue under President Obama was a failure and that "every single person" working in the industry would have kept their job had the government allowed the big three auto companies to go bankrupt. In fact, more than a million jobs would have been lost without the rescue, and bankruptcy would have likely resulted in liquidation of the auto companies.

     Hannity pushed the falsehood on the October 15 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show while talking to a caller. After the caller correctly pointed out that there were jobs saved due to the auto bailout, Hannity responded: "Every single person would have kept working if they had gone bankrupt. Every single solitary person." He continued:

    You act as though Mitt Romney was going to go in there and shut down all of the plants and that cars would no longer be produced. That's not what bankruptcy does. No, you're wrong, it wouldn't have happened that way.

    This is false. The auto industry, after steadily hemorrhaging jobs, hit a 10-year low in June 2009. Between December 2008 and June 2009, the federal government loaned the auto industry $85 billion. Shortly after the $85 billion was loaned, the auto industry began its recovery and steadily added more jobs with sales of the Big 3 automakers reportedly "surging." The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides a clear picture of the increase in jobs after the bailout:

  • Conservative Media Ignored Security Threats To Attack Pelosi's Use Of Military Aircraft

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    While the tragic shooting at a public event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was done by a mentally unstable individual, and while there is no apparent connection to any political party, the current political rhetoric has reached an unacceptable level. Media Matters revisits instances in which conservative media figures ignored or minimized security threats against Nancy Pelosi in order to attack her for using a military aircraft. In fact, the Department of Defense provided the plane as a security measure after the 9-11 attacks -- a measure that was also provided to former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert.