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  • Univision hosts denounce Trump’s characterization of immigrants as criminals at his first State of the Union address

    Univision’s Ilia Calderón: “The president used his speech once again to stigmatize all immigrants”

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Univision hosts Jorge Ramos, Ilia Calderón, and Enrique Acevedo responded to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address on January 30 by denouncing his attempt to “once again stigmatize all immigrants,” with Ramos noting, “it must be strongly emphasized that a large part of immigrants in the United States is not members of MS-13”:

    JORGE RAMOS (CO-HOST): This is a president that, particularly at the end of his speech, was reading very slowly -- there was a moment, perhaps the most emotional, for me, was between the parents of Otto Warmbier, the young student who died in the United States after being tortured in North Korea. His parents crying in that moment seemed terribly [moving] to me.

    Difficult, also, is the situation, of course, of those who lost their children to MS-13 gang members. But it must be strongly emphasized that the large part of immigrants in the United States is not members of MS-13.

    ILIA CALDERÓN (CO-HOST): That's right, Jorge. The president used once again his speech to stigmatize all immigrants who came to the United States because the first thing he mentioned in his speech were those young people who died at the hands of gang members. And, like you said, all Hispanics are not gang members.

    RAMOS: Exactly.

    CALDERÓN: There are hardworking Hispanics. There are Hispanics doing things right in this country.

    In a dishonest ploy to usher in anti-immigrant policies that would be counterproductive to improving public safety, Trump and his allies routinely depict undocumented immigrants as criminals and gang members. This racist and xenophobic rhetoric is particularly disingenuous when it comes to MS-13, which has American roots. As explained by Splinter News, “Trump failed to mention that MS-13 is actually a gang that was born in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It only spread abroad because of the U.S. government, and experts have found scant evidence that its American branch is primarily made up of immigrants.” Speaking to White House Director of policy and interagency coordination Carlos Díaz-Rosillo, Acevedo called out this tactic, noting that Trump spoke heavily about the criminality of immigrants, but did not mention their “contributions and value”:

    ENRIQUE ACEVEDO (CO-HOST): Even though the idea of reconciliation and unity was discussed, the entire immigrant community was presented through the filter of criminality, of gangs, like Jorge and Ilia said at the beginning of the program. There was not much about the contributions and value of immigrants in the country. Was it not worth it to mention, at the same time, in the speech, both?

    CARLOS DÍAZ-ROSILLO: But he said something even more important, which is that he wants to give, not only a legal status, but also a path to citizenship for more than 1.8 million young people. It was expected that that would only be granted to 690,000. Almost 2 million young people will benefit if the president's proposal is approved by Congress.

    After listening to immigrants and Dreamers respond to Trump’s speech with dismay, Ramos summarized their message. Speaking directly to the camera, Ramos declared, “The message is clear, Mr. Trump. We are not members of the Mara Salvatrucha. We're not”:

  • Lessons from coverage of the Trump administration's attempt to block an undocumented teen's abortion

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Media widely covered the case of an undocumented minor whom the Trump administration tried to stop from having an abortion this month. While Fox News focused on a made-up story that taxpayers are funding abortions of illegal immigrants, several other news outlets provided comprehensive coverage about the implications of the case, thus identifying key facets of the Trump administration’s extreme push against the right to an abortion.

    On October 18, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to allow abortion access to an undocumented teen (referred to as Jane Doe) who is being held in federal custody in Texas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had argued that the government was not impeding Doe’s access to an abortion because, as Mother Jones reported, she was “free to return to her home country for the procedure.” But the DOJ appealed the ruling to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which eventually ruled on October 24 that the government could not stop Doe from having an abortion. On October 25, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that Doe had successfully obtained an abortion.

    Doe was forced to jump through all of these legal hoops because, according to the ACLU, the Trump administration made a policy change in March 2017 that shelters could not take facilitate abortion access for minors in their care without “direction and approval” from the director of ORR, Scott Lloyd. The ACLU originally filed this lawsuit as a class action for all Jane Does in ORR’s custody who are seeking an abortion, and further litigation for the class is currently pending.

    Before the appeals court’s October 24 ruling, Vice News’ Antonia Hylton obtained an exclusive interview with Doe in which she emphasized her certainty about the decision to have an abortion.

    Beyond Vice News' interview, several media outlets highlighted crucial details of Doe’s case that will likely shape the course of abortion access as the Trump administration’s policies continue to follow an increasingly extreme trajectory. Here are four important points that media made about the case:

    HHS employs an anti-abortion extremist to look after undocumented minors

    Trump’s HHS is full of anti-abortion extremists like Charmaine Yoest, Teresa Manning, and Valerie Huber. But Doe’s case exposed another anti-abortion personality in the agency -- one who has direct control over the lives of pregnant minors in custody who may seek an abortion.

    During the October 20 edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow detailed the ways Scott Lloyd, the director of ORR, is pushing his anti-abortion agenda onto undocumented minors. According to Maddow, Lloyd “has argued forcefully” that anti-choice groups should not just focus on making abortion illegal in the U.S., but also on opposing the use of contraceptives. Maddow additionally pointed to allegations in Doe’s lawsuit that Lloyd “directed employees underneath him in his agency to tell girls’ parents about their pregnancies against the girls’ will" and that he had "directed federal employees to physically take girls to Christian counseling centers in Texas, so anti-abortion activists at those counseling centers could try to talk them out of having abortions.” Maddow concluded that Doe’s access to a doctor was “being blocked by an anti-abortion activist who somehow got this job that gave him the kind of personal individual control over women’s lives and bodies that he previously could have only dreamed about as an anti-abortion activist.”

    As Univision News’ Fernando Peinado further explained, Lloyd’s appointment to ORR “surprised many immigration activists and lawyers” since he has “little experience in immigration.” Peinado stated that Lloyd’s previous experience with refugees “was during his work as chief policy coordinator for the Knights of Columbus” -- a self-identified pro-life group that is popular with right-wing media -- where Lloyd worked with “Christian refugees and other minorities persecuted by the Islamic State in the Middle East.”

    BuzzFeed News’ Ema O’Connor linked Lloyd’s current actions with previous writings in which he said that access to contraceptives increases abortion rates; in reality, the opposite is true. Lloyd declared in an article for the National Catholic Register that “American people make a deal with women: So long as you are using the condom, pill or patch I am providing with my money, you are going to promise not to have an abortion if the contraception fails, which it often does.” Lloyd also rejected the idea of funding from the Title X family planning program supporting access to contraceptives because he argued that the “truckloads of condoms” purchased would fail and lead to more abortions.

    The immigration system in the US is “a harbinger of ... ‘anti-choice fanaticism’”

    Rewire immigration reporter Tina Vasquez reported that the anti-abortion agenda being promoted via the United States' immigration system didn’t start with the Trump administration; in fact, anti-abortion policies of the George W. Bush administration contributed to HHS’ current ability to deny abortion access to undocumented minors. Vasquez talked to Susan Hays, the legal director of a nonprofit called Jane’s Due Process that provides legal services in Texas to pregnant minors. Hays stated:

    Under Bush, social workers working with minors [in ORR shelters] could make legal decisions because the shelters had legal custody of the minors. But after two social workers helped an unaccompanied immigrant minor obtain an abortion, it really upset the Catholic-run shelter where they were employed and where the child was housed. … In response, Bush changed who has custody of minors.

    The change gave ORR legal custody of unaccompanied minors who cross the border. In March 2017, the Trump administration tweaked this policy to require minors to get the specific consent of the ORR director, leaving them subject to Lloyd’s rabid anti-abortion agenda. Vasquez noted that advocates say Doe’s case is a “harbinger of the ‘anti-choice fanaticism’ working its way into the immigration system since Trump’s presidential inauguration.”

    The Trump administration is using religion to deny people the right to an abortion

    The Trump administration recently made a sweeping change to the federal contraception mandate that enabled practically any business to claim either a religious or moral exception to providing contraceptives to its employees. Such actions suggest that the Trump administration will place the objectives of religious groups above the choices -- and constitutional rights -- of Americans.

    As Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick explained, the government’s obstruction of Doe’s planned abortion happened “because the federal government now believes it has a right to promulgate its own quasi-religious viewpoint” and to change “the law to subordinate [Doe’s] choices to government power.”

    According to Lithwick, lawyers for the DOJ relied on “a very sweeping view of facilitation” in their argument that they shouldn’t have to “facilitate” the abortion by saying they would be required to offer her post-procedure medical support -- the most elementary of obligations for a government to perform. Lithwick likens the argument to “claims we’ve been hearing in courts from religious objectors for years.” These religious objectors include the plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby, who did not want to “facilitate” the coverage of birth control for their employees, or those arguing against federal funding for Planned Parenthood because of the inaccurate claim that “money is fungible” and thus taxpayers will be paying for abortions.

    The Trump administration’s use of religion to delay an abortion for Jane Doe caused her unnecessary anguish. As The Daily Beast’s Erin Gloria Ryan reported, “By delaying her abortion, they subjected her to increased medical risks, dramatically increased costs, and the general physical discomfort of pregnancy for much longer than necessary. The mechanisms behind this fight are nothing but cruel.”

    This case is a “preview” of the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the abortion rights of the most vulnerable

    Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern used Doe’s case to explain the reality of a future without Roe v. Wade, which then-candidate Trump promised on the campaign trail he would try to overturn. Stern wrote, “If Roe goes, there will be thousands more Jane Does—detained women who would be denied access to abortion by their government. It is these detainees, then, who are on the front line of the abortion battle. That’s because it is their pregnancies that the state can most easily control.”

    Stern also highlighted the impact such precedent would have on another vulnerable community in the United States -- the incarcerated -- who are already sometimes denied abortions in federal and state prisons. As Stern explained, the process for getting a court order to have an abortion for someone in prison “is onerous and time-consuming, and officials can drag it out until the pregnancy is viable, rendering an abortion illegal.” Post-Roe, “without a constitutional right to abortion, all women in custody could be forced to carry pregnancies they do not want—then have their children taken away from them while they serve out their sentences or face deportation.”

  • Three ways Hispanic media has changed in the Trump era

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s rise in politics has posed new challenges for journalists covering the White House, but for Spanish-language outlets, it has created unique obstacles. As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, here’s a look back at some ways Hispanic media is changing in the Trump era:

    1. Racist attacks on Hispanic journalists have intensified. In an illuminating interview on CNN, Henry Gomez, the senior political writer at Cleveland.com, told host Brooke Baldwin that he has “noticed an uptick” in racist insults while covering Trump as compared to his previous decade-plus of experience. He explained that many of the emails and tweets that he receives are “parroting a lot of Donald Trump’s greatest hits,” referring to Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Gomez’s case is not unique. The conservative Media Research Center launched a literal campaign against Univision’s Jorge Ramos for his coverage of Trump, and Fox News has fed the fire and called for Ramos’ resignation. Other journalists have voiced concerns over the intensifying anti-Latino environment in op-eds and on Twitter. The challenge for Hispanic journalists covering Trump is unique because, according to Cal State Northridge journalism professor Jose Luis Benavides, interviewed by KQED, “if you’re from a Spanish-language news organization … some people may assume you have a built-in bias.”

    2. Republicans are giving less access to Spanish-language networks. One of Univision’s top news anchors, Enrique Acevedo, told Politico in March, “It’s harder to get access to Republicans than it is to get access to Democrats and I understand why that is,” noting that it has “happened more since the inauguration.”

    A Media Matters review of appearances by elected Republican officials on Univision and Telemundo in both 2014, before Trump launched his political campaign, and 2017 confirmed Acevedo’s observation. During Hispanic Heritage Month 2014, an equal amount of elected Republican officials and elected Democratic officials appeared as guests on Telemundo and Univision’s Sunday news shows. During that same time period in 2017, only two Republicans appeared on the Sunday shows compared to five Democrats.

    Republicans’ aversion to Spanish-language outlets seems to echo Trump’s attitude toward the networks. As a candidate, Trump denied press credentials to Univision, Telemundo and La Opinion, blacklisted prominent Hispanic journalists, including José Díaz-Balart and Jorge Ramos, and declined an invitation to address the joint convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

    3. Telemundo launched a campaign to empower Latinos to improve their lives. In February, Telemundo launched “El Poder En Ti,” -- which translates into “The Power Within You,” -- a campaign designed to empower Latinos and encourage them to take initiative to improve their lives and the lives of others. Influential news shows such as Enfoque and Al Rojo Vivo presented profiles of Latino immigrants and nonimmigrants who have made positive impacts on their communities.

    The shows’ depictions of Latinos as role models, community activists, politicians, innovators, media executives, and philanthropists contrasted with the way that Trump and his media allies typically depict Latinos. In one segment of “Nuestra Gente Extraordinaria” -- which translates into “Our extraordinary people” -- on Enfoque, which was part of the “El Poder en Ti” campaign, National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Alex Nogales recognized this discrepancy, explaining that immigrants are “judges, police officers, lawyers, dentists,” and more, but “media outlets that broadcasted in English treated our community … as if we were all criminals.” This trend is also borne out in right-wing media. As the president continues to disparage Latino immigrants, he counts on his media allies to vindicate his painting them as criminals.

    Methodology

    Media Matters skimmed Univision’s Al Punto and Telemundo’s Enfoque during Hispanic Heritage Month of 2014 (September 14, 2014 to October 12, 2014) and Hispanic Heritage Month of 2017 (September 10, 2017 to October 8, 2017) and coded for each guest. The party affiliations of guests who were elected officials still in office during the time that the show aired were also coded. Any person who gave unique commentary to the given networks was coded as a guest.

  • The fake news that spread about Hurricane Irma

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Websites and social media personalities that traffic in fake news took advantage of Hurricane Irma to spread false information. While the hurricane made landfall in the Caribbean and parts of Florida, many fake news stories that could potentially impede recovery efforts made their way onto social media sites. As during Hurricane Harvey, these purveyors of false information again showed that they will take advantage of any event, no matter how tragic, to promote and exploit fake news with clickbait headlines.

    A “satirical” website claimed that Stan Lee fired Jennifer Lawrence because of comments she made about climate change

    The Last Line of Defense, a website that claims it is satirical but whose pieces have been co-opted by fake news purveyors pushing them as fact, made up a story that legendary Marvel Comics writer and publisher Stan Lee fired actress Jennifer Lawrence from future X-Men movies for comments she purportedly made regarding Hurricane Irma and climate change, with Lee calling her a “little bitch.” The story was then shared by multiple fake news purveyors. The patriotusa.press version of the post was shared the most, drawing more than 4,600 Facebook engagements, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo, and reaching 249,472 people across various social media platforms according to CrowdTangle, another analytics service.

    White House social media director shared fake video of Miami flooding

    On September 10, White House social media director Dan Scavino shared a video on Twitter of what he claimed was “Miami International Airport” flooding during Irma and tagged President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The airport’s Twitter account responded to Scavino, saying, “This video is not from Miami International Airport.” Scavino, who has previously tweeted articles from known fake news purveyors, later deleted the tweet.

    British tabloid shares fake video of building falling in Caribbean due to Irma

    On September 6, a YouTube account uploaded a video of what it claimed was a building collapsing on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin due to Irma. As BuzzFeed noted, the video was actually from a flood in Tibet. The fake video was subsequently shared by the British tabloid Daily Mail (the paper later deleted its post) and by at least one other blog.

    French-language journalists and Univision share fake photo of Caribbean damage from Irma

    Fake news and hyperpartisan websites shared a fake photo of what they claimed was damage to an airport in the Caribbean due to Irma. As BuzzFeed noted, the photo was actually of a Mexican airport after a 2014 hurricane. Multiple French-language journalists and Univision also shared the image.

    Fake news that Irma could destroy New York City appears to originate from a white nationalist’s blog post

    White nationalist Hal Turner published a piece on his website claiming, “Computer Model Shows IRMA DESTROYING New York City & NJ on Sept. 10.” As PolitiFact noted, there were no such computer models with that prediction. Turner’s false claim was later reposted by News Prepper, another fringe blog, which drew more than 2,600 Facebook engagements and reached 45,575 people, according to BuzzSumo and CrowdTangle, respectively. Fake news purveyor YourNewsWire also reposted the piece.

    Fake news site said Jared Kushner had disappeared and Mar-a-Lago was destroyed during Irma

    Satirical website Freedumjunkshun made up a story that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, was missing after Mar-a-Lago was destroyed during Irma (which is also false). The Last Line of Defense's Facebook page and fake news purveyor patriotusa.press also shared the fabricated story. The patriotusa.press post drew at least 224 Facebook engagements and reached 124,704 people, according to BuzzSumo and CrowdTangle, respectively.

    Fake news sites publish claims that FL Gov. Rick Scott was injured during Irma cleanup

    The Last Line of Defense made up a story that FL Gov. Rick Scott (R) was injured during cleanup after Irma. Multiple fake news purveyors shared the story. The most widely shared version, from patriotusa.press, drew more than 2,600 Facebook engagements and reached 124,704 people, according to BuzzSumo and CrowdTangle, respectively.

    Fake news site claims Muslims planned to poison food in grocery stores while people were trying to get supplies to prepare for Irma

    Fake news purveyor Freedom Daily falsely claimed that Muslims had a “disturbing plan” to “poison food in the supermarkets.” As PolitiFact noted, there had been no reports of active plots of poisoning. The Freedom Daily article, which was later deleted, drew at least 564 Facebook engagements, according to BuzzSumo.

    British tabloids and celebrities share fake video of sharks swimming in Florida during Irma

    On September 11, a YouTube user named ViralVideoLab uploaded a video purporting to show sharks “in a flooded street in miami.” The post, as Snopes noted, contained “heavy hints that [the video] was less than authentic” and featured fake fins. The fake video was published by British tabloids Daily Star and The Sun (which reported “animal enthusiasts” casting doubts on the authenticity of the video), along with a West Virginia radio station’s Facebook page. The video was also shared on Facebook by skateboarder Bam Margera and on Twitter by musician AKON (who later deleted the tweet).

  • National cable news left Spanish-speakers in the dark on emergency hurricane safety information

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    National cable news networks failed to carry the Spanish-language portions of emergency press conferences about storms held in Texas and Florida -- two states with some of the largest Hispanic populations in the country -- on at least two occasions in recent weeks. While English-language outlets cut away from the Spanish-language parts of press conferences on Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, national Spanish-language outlets neglected to air the press events at all, leaving Spanish-speaking viewers in the dark regarding vital emergency preparedness information.

    During a September 7 press conference in which Florida Gov. Rick Scott was addressing the nation in preparation for Hurricane Irma, the two largest national Spanish-language news outlets, Univision and Telemundo, continued their regular programming rather than airing the news. Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., when the conference was taking place, neither Univision’s Despierta América nor Telemundo’s Un Nuevo Día carried the press conference live. Contrary to the national networks, local Univision and Telemundo affiliates serving Miami and Fort Lauderdale (Univision 23 and Telemundo 51) both aired the press conference in-full and even provided Spanish translation when necessary.

    At about 9:54 a.m., a reporter asked a question in Spanish about whether authorities would be checking immigration documents of individuals forced to evacuate or take refuge from the hurricane, to which one of the press conference speakers responded in Spanish, “They do not have to be thinking about that” because “none of the places that they will be going will be checking [immigration] documents.” After briefly airing part of the Spanish response provided by Florida authorities, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC all cut away, continuing to show the conference in the background but with network anchors speaking over it.

    Similarly, Univision’s and Telemundo’s national outlets declined to cut away from regular programming on August 28 to air a news conference about Hurricane Harvey, and in this case, none of the local affiliates available in media recording service iQ media appeared to air the press conference live either. Fox News and MSNBC again spoke over a Spanish-language portion of the press conference soon after a reporter asked a question about whether authorities would be able to accommodate non-English speakers needing rescue. CNN stayed on the Spanish-language portion of the press conference for about a minute and a half before also cutting away.

    In these instances, while Spanish-language affiliates in Florida compensated for holes in coverage from national news outlets, Spanish-speaking viewers in Texas watching either national cable news or local Spanish-language news missed updates as they happened.

  • Visibility for immigrants in detention increasingly urgent in Trump era

    Univision sets an example for how to report on immigrant detention

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    New revelations from Univision’s exclusive report on a private immigration detention center demonstrate that a well-rounded investigative report of detention centers requires detainees’ perspectives, especially as the current administration continues to embolden private immigrant detention centers and strip detainees of protections.

    Univision correspondent Luis Megid spoke to two undocumented immigrants being held at Adelanto Detention Center in Adelanto, CA, the largest immigrant detention center on the West Coast, which is owned and operated by private prison company GEO Group. One detainee, Omar Riveras, talked about the night he was abruptly removed from his home. In a moment rarely seen in mainstream media outlets, an undocumented immigrant was presented with a face, a name, and a story, rather than just a slur of a label.

    Another detainee, who chose not to be identified by name, offered startling revelations about what immigrants face while detained at Adelanto, claiming that they are barred from using outdoor facilities and that “mistreatment is something that happens on a daily basis.” From the June 1 edition of Noticiero Univisión:

    Both testimonies shed light on the personal journeys of detained immigrants and on life inside detention centers, details that are too often left out of media reports. And notably, one detainee revealed that the experience inside Adelanto Detention Center may not be what GEO Group officials and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suggest.

    GEO Group has boasted about its spacious, clean facilities, but the private prison company has drawn backlash from undocumented immigrant detainees for years. Just this week, a hunger strike and sit-in protest at Adelanto turned violent when nine protesters requesting more reasonable bail and other basic accommodations, such as unused underwear and clean water, were pepper sprayed and beaten, they said. ICE is claiming that the strike is over, but groups in contact with the detainees are reporting that nearly 30 women have joined the ongoing hunger strike. La Opinión recently reported that ICE and GEO Group have recognized that officials used excessive force in their June 12 confrontation with protesters and that they would be launching an investigation into the matter.

    In the last three months, three immigrants have died at Adelanto. Detainees at another GEO Group facility have accused the facility of violating anti-slavery laws, and according to ICE statistics, the detention centers with the most complaints of sexual harassment are operated by GEO Group or CoreCivic, one of the other major private detention center companies. Other instances of abuse involve “significant and life-threatening delays or denials of medical and mental health care,” “verbal abuse, employee theft, retaliation, [and] abusive solitary confinement.”

    President Donald Trump’s misguided immigration policies are only serving to exacerbate the problem. A New York Times report suggests that the administration is considering rolling back basic standards for how undocumented immigrants are held in detention at a time when there is already “little accountability” for enforcing these standards, as the graph below indicates (data, graph, and information from Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), available at http://www.endisolation.org/resources/immigration-detention):

    At the same time, the administration is moving to end “catch-and-release,” a malignant term for the practice of allowing undocumented detainees out of the detention centers “while awaiting a deportation court hearing.” Arrests of noncriminal undocumented immigrants has “more than doubled” since Trump took office, and a White House memo called for nearly doubling the number of immigrants in detention to 80,000 per day. GEO Group was given the first immigrant detention center project in the Trump era.

    As right-wing media ramp up their efforts to sell Trump’s anti-immigrant crackdown as sound policy, journalists have an obligation to portray immigrant detention accurately.

    According to Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), an organization that supports undocumented immigrant detainees, there was three times more reporting on immigrant detention in 2016 than in 2009, but “the complex realities of the detention system remain hidden from public view and there remains a dearth of first-hand migrant accounts.” CIVIC recommended that media should “increase their efforts to include first-hand migrant accounts in their reporting, and collaborate with organizations like CIVIC that serve migrants in detention and affected communities.”

    Reporting in recent years about Rikers Island prison serves as a case study of how first-hand testimonies from inmates or detainees can have a palpable effect on readers and decision-makers. Journalists who homed in on inmates’ stories brought the reality of violence at Rikers to the forefront of the conversation on prison and criminal justice reform, and their stories -- particularly The New Yorker’s profile of Kalief Browder -- put enormous pressure on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who eventually promised to close the prison. Documentaries depicting life at Rikers continue to put inmates' harrowing experiences at the top of peoples' minds.

    Journalists reporting on immigrant detention can also take cues from these reporters on how to overcome barriers in communicating with inmates. In Browder’s case, journalist Jennifer Gonnerman interviewed him after he was released from Rikers, sidestepping the problem of accessing the prison itself. Other reporters have suggested following “the paper trail” of documents that prisons are required to keep in order to tell a more detailed story.

    Spanish-language outlets often use telephone interviews with undocumented immigrant detainees to hear their stories directly or speak to detainees’ family members. Immigrant advocacy groups that are in frequent communication with detainees are also a valuable resource for reporters.

    While the stories of undocumented immigrants in detention usually do not make it into mainstream media, they have the power to impact even far-right conservatives.

    For the sake of transparency, accountability, and quality reporting on undocumented immigrant detention, it is critical that journalists overcome barriers to make the detainees’ voices heard.

  • Minority voices largely excluded from Paris climate agreement discussion

    Research shows that black and Hispanic communities are most impacted by the effects of climate change

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    A Media Matters study found that cable news outlets mostly marginalized people of color from discussions about climate change and the Paris accord following President Donald Trump's June 1 announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. This trend is particularly problematic in discussions of climate change because studies show that climate change disproportionately affects black and Hispanic communities.

    A review of guests discussing climate change on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN between June 1 and June 2 found that out of 286 guests* who cable channels invited on to discuss the issue, only about 17 percent were people of color -- 9 percent were black, 3 percent were Hispanic, 4 percent were of Asian descent, and less than 1 percent were of Middle Eastern descent.

    The lack of representation is striking because studies show that climate change disproportionately affects minorities. In a June 2 article for Essence magazine, activist and political commentator Symone Sanders explained that leaving the Paris agreement will exacerbate some of the problems African-American communities face, including natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and environmentally related health problems including respiratory diseases and heart conditions. A 2015 report by the NAACP noted that the tendency of African-Americans to live in cities, in coastal areas, and near polluting facilities like coal-fired power plants poses specific health risks and makes them more vulnerable than others to the effects of climate change. A 2016 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) pointed out that Hispanic communities are disproportionately harmed by climate change in part because a majority of Latinos live in states prone to extreme heat, air pollution, and flooding. Additionally, climate-related health concerns are particularly dire for Latinos given that they are “heavily represented in crop and livestock production and construction,” which contributes to them being “three times more likely to die ... from excessive heat than non-Latinos.” They are also less likely to have health insurance coverage than non-Latinos.

    These factors may help explain why people of color are more likely than white voters to support the Paris agreement and to support regulation designed to combat climate change, and why lawmakers who belong to minority groups have “near-perfect” environmental voting records.

    Yet, despite the intersectionality, TV news outlets often fail to make the connection between climate change and racial justice -- perhaps, in part, because they don't include many minority voices in their coverage.

    Minority groups have condemned the dearth of minority voices in the media. Hispanic groups have called on the media to improve the visibility of Hispanics on air, noting that Hispanic voices are mostly restricted to discussing immigration, which creates the perception that they are a single-issue constituency. Other communities of color and low-income communities are also excluded from media coverage of climate change, as NAACP’s Jacqueline Patterson pointed out in an interview with The Nation in 2014: “The voice of frontline communities, the ones that are most impacted, usually don’t make it to the airwaves.”

    When minority voices do find a foothold in the climate change discussion, the intersectionality of the issues becomes more apparent. African-American journalist April Ryan, one of the few non-white guests invited to discuss the Paris decision on CNN, emphasized the real-life human consequences of climate change, including disasters like Katrina, floods, droughts, and mosquito-borne diseases.

    Additionally, in Spanish-language media’s coverage on Univision and Telemundo, reports on the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris accord explained the impact of climate change on Hispanics and provided a platform for Latinos to voice their opposition to the move. 

    Irissa Cisternino contributed research to this piece.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream and Nexis using the search terms "climate or Paris" on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News from June 1 through June 2 and reviewed the transcripts for segments about Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement that aired between between 5 a.m. EST and 11 p.m. EST. Segments where Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris accord was the stated topic of discussion or segments where there was significant discussion of Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris accord were counted. "Significant discussion" was defined as at least two speakers in the segment engaging on the topic with one another (e.g., the host asking a guest a question on Trump's decision). Segments where a guest mentioned the decision in passing -- where no other guest engaged with the comment -- were excluded. All guests were coded for race/ethnicity. In one case, the race/ethnicity of the guest was unclear, so that person was not counted.

    *For one guest who is both black and Hispanic, both backgrounds were counted. As a result, there are 288 race/ethnicities listed for the 286 guests. Because the study was focused on representation of minorities, guests who are both white and belonging to a minority group were coded only for the latter. 

  • Before Ben Jacobs, there was Jorge Ramos

    Assaults on reporters are too frequent in the Trump era; the Ramos example shows what can come next

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Journalists reacted in disbelief after reports surfaced that Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate for Montana’s House seat, allegedly “body-slammed” and punched Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs after he asked Gianforte a question. This incident is sadly just the latest in a string of increasingly hostile attacks on the press that President Donald Trump has encouraged both as candidate and president. An earlier confrontation Trump had with Univision and Fusion reporter Jorge Ramos serves as a warning about what can come next.

    Gianforte’s alleged assault on Jacobs has spurred a national outcry from journalists. Many are blaming Trump for encouraging “fear and anger and resentment” toward the press. And the altercation itself is not without precedent. Since Trump declared his candicacy and made his hostility to the press a central part of his persona, while covering political events (many Trump-related), members of the media have been reportedly choked, slammed to the groundpunched, shovedarrested, pinned, slapped, and dragged down.

    In August 2015, Jorge Ramos was another of these examples, when he was forcibly removed from a news conference after pressing candidate Trump on his proposals to build a physical wall across the southern border of the United States and to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. Trump told Ramos to “go back to Univision” and claimed that Ramos was removed because he “stood up and started screaming” and later commented, “He's obviously a very emotional person.” Ramos was later granted re-entry into the news conference and was able to ask multiple questions. At the end of their exchange, Trump reminded Ramos that he was suing Univision and that Ramos was part of the lawsuit.

    Later, Ramos was harassed by an unidentified man who told him, “Get out of my country.” In response to the confrontation, Ramos commented, “It’s the first time in my life anywhere in the world in which I’ve been escorted out of a press conference.”

    But what happened next was another first. As the campaign continued, Trump refused every single one of Ramos’ requests for an interview, despite his prominence in both English and Spanish-language news media -- though he did solicit a donation from Ramos and sent him a bumper sticker -- and blacklisted Univision along with nearly every other Spanish-language outlet. Ultimately, Trump did only two interviews with Spanish-language media throughout the 16 months of his presidential campaign.

    Just as right-wing media rushed to defend Gianforte after his assault of Jacobs, conservatives subsequently attacked Ramos, with the conservative Media Research Center even launching an (unsuccessful) pressure campaign for him to resign.

    During the campaign, Spanish-language outlets and those focused on Latin American affairs didn’t hesitate to compare Trump’s antagonism toward the press to that of Latin American dictators and warn of the dangers that would come with Trump’s war on the press. This incident is just the latest evidence that Trump’s antipathy to a free press is not only becoming normalized but is even spreading.

    The outrageous assault on Jacobs is a reminder that when journalists are dehumanized they become targets for political violence. What happened to Ramos is a reminder that once the actual reporters are dehumanized, aggressively blacklisting the media is an easy next step. 

  • How The Media Elevated Anti-Immigrant Nativist Groups

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Throughout 2016, media outlets were complicit in mainstreaming the “nativist lobby,” made up of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA, groups with ties to white supremacists whose mission is to drastically limit both legal and illegal immigration. Even though these groups have a record of producing shoddy research and pushing misinformation about immigrants, their agenda has now inspired many of President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Many mainstream media outlets contributed to the normalization of these nativist groups by repeatedly referencing them under the pretense of balance while failing to acknowledge their insidious anti-immigrant agenda or provide context about their nativist origins.

  • Cable News Reports On DACA Ignored Its Economic Benefits

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    After President-elect Donald Trump pledged during his presidential run to rescind an executive action on immigration that protects from deportation thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors, cable news outlets routinely discussed the program as a political tool without explaining how it benefits Americans and the American economy.

    The 2012 executive action known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allows almost 800,000 people to study, work, and live their lives in the United States without fear of deportation. As a result of not being forced to live in the shadows, DACA recipients have generated more government revenue in the form of sales and property taxes, and created new jobs through increased consumer spending and boosted wages. The program has benefited the entire economy, but cable news coverage of DACA depicts the program as if it impacts only those who it protects from deportation.

    Media Matters reviewed how evening news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC covered DACA from August 31 -- when Trump announced he would put an end to the program -- to December 15. Of the 20 qualifying segments on DACA during that time period, its economic impact was mentioned only once. Even then, the discussion failed to provide many facts on the scope of the program’s benefits.

    Meanwhile, new reports investigating the effect of rescinding DACA conclude that doing so would do more harm than good for all Americans, not just the thousands of undocumented immigrants protected by the program. On December 13, Univision reported on a study from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which found that ending DACA would reduce contributions to Social Security and Medicare by $19.9 billion and $4.6 billion, respectively, over 10 years. On December 15, Telemundo reported that if approximately 3.4 million undocumented immigrant homeowners, many of whom are protected under DACA, lost protections from deportation, the resulting mass deportation “could hit the housing market, causing losses of up to $9.3 billion.” Additionally, a November 18 report by the Center for American Progress estimated that “ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product” over the next 10 years.

    Cable news networks’ failure to connect the dots on how anti-immigration policies would negatively affect the economy is a disservice to voters whose decisions at the polls were guided by a desire for a strong economy.

    Methodology

    Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts from Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC using the search terms "allcap(DACA) or dreamer or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" for programs airing between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. from August 31 through December 15. We reviewed the transcripts for segments discussing the economic impact of DACA. This included reports from correspondents and guest panels and excluded brief mentions of DACA that did not generate meaningful discussion between hosts or guests.

  • Univision Lifts Up Nativist Center For Immigration Studies As Credible Source

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Univision’s daily email brief cited the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an anti-immigrant nativist group that often peddles in misinformation, continuing the leading Spanish-language media outlet’s pattern of promoting anti-immigrant groups and failing to label them as such.

    The December 5 edition of Univision’s Daily Brief claimed, “New government data by the Center for Immigration Studies shows more than three million new documented and undocumented immigrants settled in the United States in 2014 and 2015 — a 39 percent increase over the prior two years.”

    CIS is one of three anti-immigrant groups, all spearheaded by retired ophthalmologist John Tanton, that use the veneer of impartiality to inundate media outlets with false statistics and misinformation about immigrants. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated CIS -- along with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA, both also founded by Tanton -- as anti-immigrant white nativist groups for their ties to racist extremists. CIS’ Jessica Vaughan, a right-wing media regular, has used her media platform to misinform about sanctuary cities and peddle lies about undocumented immigrants voting and being released to commit violent crimes.

    Some media outlets, like The Daily Beast, have reported on this “shady network” of anti-immigrant groups that bolster right-wing media talking points and routinely creep into mainstream media, noting that their problematic studies are often characterized by a lack of context. Univision’s propensity to cite CIS and FAIR contributes to this dangerous media pattern and threatens the integrity of immigration information.

  • Univision Helps Anti-Immigrant Hate Group Sanitize Its Nativist Image

    FAIR Is A Nativist Anti-Immigrant Hate Group, But Univision Won't Say So

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Univision has continuously failed to provide proper context to its audience when interviewing members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), by omitting the fact that the group is an anti-immigrant “hate group” with ties to the nativist movement and white nationalism.

    During a November 29 segment about FAIR’s hard-line anti-immigrant policy proposals on Univision’s Noticiero Univisión, anchor Jorge Ramos and correspondent Janet Rodríguez both helped mainstream the group by labeling it a “conservative organization that opposes undocumented immigrants” and a “conservative anti-immigrant organization.” By simply labeling the group as “conservative,” Ramos and Rodríguez failed to properly identify the group’s nativist origins and extremism while interviewing FAIR spokesperson Jack Martin:

    Translated transcript:

    JORGE RAMOS (HOST): A well-known conservative organization that opposes undocumented immigrants is preparing a series of recommendations for the future Donald Trump presidency. Among the suggestions there is the elimination of the deferred action program and increasing deportations. Janet Rodríguez spoke with a leader of this organization.

    JANET RODRÍGUEZ: If Donald Trump promised to be strict against undocumented immigrants, the organization proposing to advise him on this topic is even stricter. Today, the directors of FAIR, a conservative anti-immigrant organization, put forward a series of recommendations that they're making to the new administration.

    JACK MARTIN: We think they will find these recommendations very favorable.

    RODRÍGUEZ: For the first hundred days of the administration the organization is proposing that the president eliminate deferred action, withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, restart workplace raids, and start building the wall.

    MARTIN: Just being in the U.S. illegally should be enough for deportation.

    RODRÍGUEZ: They say that during the first year the goal should be to limit reentry permits and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), eliminate the use of ankle monitors and conditional freedom, reviving the 287G program and the secure communities program. The plan is very similar to the one Kris Kobach, also an enemy of immigration reform, and who is looking to become the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He has presented the plan to the president-elect. But these are just recommendations, and the organization recognizes that perhaps the president-elect and the new Congress will never approve a plan as harsh as they'd like it to be.

    This is not the first time Univision has provided FAIR with a platform to air its extremism without providing necessary context. On November 17, the network also featured Martin’s point of view devoid of context.

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), FAIR earned the “hate group” label because of its history of “defending racism, encouraging xenophobia and nativism, and giving its all to efforts to keep America white.” FAIR also accepted funding from the Pioneer Fund, “a group founded to promote the genes of white colonials” which also “funds studies of race, intelligence and genetics.” SPLC also noted that FAIR has hired people who are also members of “white supremacist groups” to its top posts and specifically promoted “racist conspiracy theories about Latinos.” The group’s founder, John Tanton -- a current member of FAIR’s national board of advisers -- has “expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population.”

    In a July 22 report about the nativist influences on President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, The Daily Beast described FAIR’s work as an effort to “demonize immigrants" and explained that even conservative groups “loathe the Tanton network.” In addition the piece noted that before Trump, “these groups found themselves pushed to the margins of the conservative conversation of immigration.” Yet failures by the media to appropriately characterize groups like FAIR has allowed the group to pass as a mainstream conservative organization with a valid seat at the table in the immigration policy debate.

    Spanish-language media has in the past failed to grasp the influence of white supremacy on anti-immigration sentiments. Regardless of whether the Trump administration implements FAIR’s policy proposals or not, providing hate groups with a platform could have an impact on rhetoric and negatively impact those affected by the immigration policies. As NPR’s Latino USA host pointed out in her coverage of virulent 2016 campaign rhetoric, “words are powerful; they can motivate people in good ways and bad.”