Julie Banderas | Media Matters for America

Julie Banderas

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  • As news of Texas school shooting broke, Fox called for armed guards. After finding out there was an armed guard, Fox called for arming teachers.

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    On May 18, a school shooting left at least eight dead and others injured in Santa Fe, TX.

    As the news broke, Fox News hosted a guest, introduced as a former member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, who insisted that “the time has come to put armed police officers in schools.”

    Just minutes later, Fox confirmed that there was in fact an armed security guard in the school, leading guest Buck Sexton, a Fox regular, to argue that armed security isn’t enough -- there should be more guns.

    JULIE BANDERAS (CO-ANCHOR): It’s interesting that you point out that they did have an armed guard, somebody who was supposed to be watching over these kids. This person cannot be in every classroom at every minute of the day. So even if you have one person there who is armed and ready to defend these defenseless kids, I'm told there are over 1,400 kids in this high school. One person with a gun can't possibly defend that many kids.

    BUCK SEXTON: Well, this is where I think the conversation about people on campus who are trained personnel, adults who have concealed carry permits, also comes into play.

    BANDERAS: Are you referring to teachers?

    SEXTON: Yes. Teachers, anyone -- it could be teachers, could be maintenance personnel, could be athletic coaches, anyone who has the proper training and skill set.

  • Fox News uses Nuremberg defense to cover for Gina Haspel’s torture record

    Network figures say Haspel was “simply following orders” 

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Gina Haspel’s March 13 nomination as CIA director is reviving the debate about torture, and Fox News is defending her role in the agency’s George W. Bush-era program by insisting that she was “simply following orders” and should not be held responsible for her contributions to the torturing of detainees.

    Haspel, who became the agency’s acting director on April 26 after a long tenure there, oversaw a secret CIA prison in Thailand where suspected terrorists were detained and tortured, including one man who was waterboarded three times. Haspel was also “a strong advocate” for destroying tapes of CIA torture sessions, The New York Times reported, a stance Haspel herself reiterated in her confirmation hearing. 

    As debate swirled about Haspel’s involvement in torture leading up to her confirmation hearing, Fox News took the lead in providing media cover for her. Several Fox personalities have zeroed in on some variation of the argument that “she was just following orders” -- a defense made infamous by multiple high-ranking Nazi officials who attempted to defend themselves during the Nuremberg trials.

    In addition to insisting that Haspel was merely following orders, Fox personalities have defended her nomination by suggesting that being tortured is similar to having a difficult job, and that Haspel would make a good TV “hero” for running a secret CIA prison as a woman. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade even suggested Haspel refuse to “apologize for the Americans who are alive today and were not burned alive or had their heads cut off” thanks to torture.

    Haspel’s apparent predilection to follow orders is especially worrisome given that Trump has repeatedly threatened to bring back torture. In Trump’s first days in office, a White House draft order called for a review and possible reopening of CIA “black site” prisons. In his first presidential TV interview, Trump said of waterboarding, "Absolutely I feel it works," adding that America has to "fight fire with fire." During the campaign, Trump infamously called for America to kill the families of terrorists, which would violate the Geneva Conventions. Trump said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," and also called for America to “broaden” the laws prohibiting torture in order to “beat the savages.” And while some, like former CIA Director Michael Hayden, are saying that Haspel will stand up to Trump, her record shows otherwise

    Video by Miles Le

  • Fox News reported that a border patrol agent was murdered. It turns out they were wrong.

    Fox ran with the rumor that Rogelio Martinez was killed by undocumented immigrants. The FBI has ruled out that possibility.

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    In November, Fox News zealously and repeatedly reported that Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez’s death was a murder committed by undocumented immigrants along the US-Mexico border, despite the fact that a local sheriff said that “evidence gathered at the scene does not suggest an assault.” Yesterday, the FBI also announced that it has found no evidence of an attack.

    Officials from the National Border Patrol Council labor union, many of whom have made their anti-immigrant views quite clear, told reporters that Martinez and his partner were ambushed by immigrants along the border, a claim that contradicted medical evidence and other accounts of the incident that suggested it was an accident. Fox News took the union officials’ account as fact, reporting that the “vicious attack” vindicated President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies. Fox co-host Sandra Smith reported the incident as an "apparent ambush," and host Tucker Carlson claimed that Martinez was “attacked at the border in the most gruesome possible way." At one point, Smith briefly acknowledged the possibility that Martinez’s death was the result of a deadly accident, but others on the network continued to report that it was a homicide, with Happening Now co-host Julie Banderas claiming, "a killer killed" and beat Martinez "by rocks."

    In the past, Fox has covered stories involving immigrants in ways that depict them as criminals without reporting all of the facts. Then, when more facts are revealed that refute the network’s reporting, the full context is only mentioned in a brief whisper, if at all. In Martinez’s case, The Washington Post reported that the FBI has released its findings and “has found no evidence of a homicide, despite mobilizing significant resources involving 37 field offices to investigate Martinez’s death.” Predictably, only Smith briefly mentioned the news on February 8; the network has not yet issued a correction for its deceptive reporting:

    SANDRA SMITH (CO-HOST): New questions surrounding the November death of a U.S. Border agent. The FBI now says there's no evidence suggesting the agent and his partner were attacked. Rogelio Martinez died from severe head wounds hours after the two men were discovered lying in a drain near the Texas-Mexico border. The agents had been responding to reports of unknown activity. Martinez's partner suffered head injuries and says he can't remember what happened. The FBI says it will continue to investigate.

  • Fox News happily helps Trump administration in a highly misleading effort to blame immigrants for terrorism

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On January 16, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report in concert with the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that, among other things, “three out of every four, or 402, individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016 were foreign-born.” Fox News immediately promoted the study over criticism from homeland security experts, and then went silent about the report’s integrity after it was revealed that the administration had sidestepped DHS experts and statistics to produce it.

    Reporting on the study on the day of its release, The New York Times noted that “the 11-page report, parts of which were confusing and in some respects misleading, highlighted cases in which immigrants were linked to terrorism plots.” MSNBC security analyst Matthew Miller was one of the first to point out that the report “includes people who committed terrorist acts overseas, were arrested overseas and brought here to face trial” and explained that “it also doesn’t count incidents of domestic terrorism,” meaning terrorists who are American citizens and who perpetrated attacks on U.S. soil were excluded.

    Essentially, the report focused on international terrorism, but the way it was presented suggested that immigrants were disproportionately responsible for domestic terrorism, particularly because it was published amid immigration policy negotiations. Adding to the confusion, President Donald Trump tweeted a deceptive summary of the report, excluding the word “international”:

    As criticism around the study mounted, Fox reported on its findings by uncritically parroting the Trump administration line. Fox’s Bret Baier commented that the report includes “some amazing statistics, and scary ones.” Sandra Smith also promoted the misleading study without mentioning its many flaws. Peter Doocy pointed to the study as justification for why “the White House is not budging on immigration talks.” Fox host Julie Banderas used the report to fearmonger about “convicted terrorists in this country who have come over as young adults, if not children, and their families brought them over here, and they went ahead and killed Americans,” even though U.S. vetting procedures make the possibility of that happening incredibly rare. Tucker Carlson, who regularly uses his platform for anti-immigrant misinformation, also gladly hyped the details of the report, declaring, “According to federal numbers released today, America's terror threat is clearly, among other things, an immigration issue”:

    But yesterday, the Daily Beast revealed that career experts at DHS told DOJ officials that DHS does “not track or correlate international terrorism data by citizenship or country of origin, and have warned the Trump administration that doing so risks a misleading portrait of both terrorism and immigration.” As explained by Spencer Ackerman, “The result was that the document released last week did not include the contributions of those career DHS officials tasked with providing professional and objective analysis. They were not asked to participate, and so the document did not reflect their input.” In short, on top of the flawed methodology and cherry-picked statistics, the Trump administration willfully sidestepped homeland security experts to produce a report that would vindicate the president’s insistence on linking immigration to crime and terrorism.

    Fox News is ignoring this glaring problem with the report, demonstrating once again that the network prioritizes its anti-immigration agenda over honesty in reporting.

  • 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.

  • CNN and MSNBC highlighted Trump's selective outrage about sexual assault while Fox News defended him

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    During the 11 a.m. hour of news shows on CNN and MSNBC, hosts highlighted President Donald Trump’s selective outrage about recent reports of sexual assault by politicians amid long-standing accusations against him. Meanwhile, Fox News used the same hour to defend Trump’s failure to comment on accusations against Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, despite the president’s statements about Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who is also facing a report of sexual harassment.

    After a report came out Thursday in which a woman said Franken sexually assaulted her and showed photographic proof, Trump was quick to condemn the Democrat, calling the photo of Franken groping the accuser “really bad” on Twitter. But both Trump and his press secretary have avoided commenting on the allegations against Moore, even though the White House has said Trump supports the Republican National Committee’s decision to pull financial support from Moore.

    While Fox News defended Trump’s silence on Moore, CNN and MSNBC, in particular, reminded their viewers of Trump’s own past reported behavior by detailing the numerous sexual assault reports that he faces, his repeated denial of the allegations, and his attacks on the women who have come forward. 

    From the November 17 edition of MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle:

    STEPHANIE RUHLE (CO-HOST): Now let's look back at some of the women who have come forward with allegations against President Trump leading up to the election. We'll start with former Miss Finland, Ninni Laaksonen, who told a Finnish newspaper that Trump groped her before an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman back in 2006. Then there's Jessica Drake. She said Trump invited her to his hotel room and tried to kiss her and her friends without permission. She claims he later offered her 10,000 bucks and a chance to use his private jet if she went to dinner with him. Karen Virginia said Trump walked up, grabbed her arm, and then touched the inside of her breast at the 1998 U.S. Open. Cathy Heller told The Guardian some 20 years ago Trump grabbed her, tried to kiss her, and grew angry when she twisted away. Summer Zervos claimed Trump groped her in 2007. She brought a defamation suit against him after he called her and other accusers "liars." Kristin Anderson described an incident to The Washington Post where a finger slid under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh, and touched her vagina through her underwear at a crowded Manhattan night spot in the '90s. She fled the area and turned to take a look at the man who did it. Anderson said she recognized him. It was Donald Trump. Jessica Leeds told The New York Times she was on a plane with Trump in the early '80s when he grabbed her breasts and reached his hand up her skirt. Rachel Crooks told The New York Times she was assaulted by Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005. Mindy McGillivray told The Palm Beach Post Trump groped her while she was attending a concert at Mar-a-Lago in 2003. Natasha Stoynoff wrote in People magazine that Trump pushed her against a wall and jammed his tongue down her throat at Mar-a-Lago in what is now seeming a busy 2005. Jennifer Murphy, another contestant on The Apprentice, told a fashion magazine Trump kissed her on the lips after a job interview in 2005. Yahoo News reported Cassandra Searles wrote in a Facebook comment that Trump grabbed her butt and invited her to his hotel room. Former Miss Utah Temple Taggart told The New York Times Trump kissed her directly on the lips the first time she met him back in '97. Jill Harth alleged in The New York Times Trump pushed her against a wall, tried to kiss her, put his hands up her skirt, and touched her crotch at a dinner one night.

    And, finally -- and I need to take a drink on this one, I'm so tired from all of these -- the multiple reports from beauty pageant contestants in a BuzzFeed article, including -- wait for it -- teen beauty pageant contestants -- alleging that Donald Trump had walked in on them while he was changing -- they were changing, excuse me. So how did the president respond to all of these allegations? Let's remember. All of them, a huge amount of allegations. He called some of them, quote, "vicious claims and totally and absolutely false" at a rally one month before the 2016 election. 

    From the November 17 edition of CNN's At This Hour with Kate Bolduan:

    KATE BOLDUAN (HOST): So can we get real for a moment? This is no longer a ‘Can you believe the president said that?’ kind of a moment. This has officially become a ‘The president doesn't get to do this’ moment. He doesn't get to question [Sen.] Al Franken [(D-MN)] and stay silent on Roy Moore. And no one should allow it. It's playing politics with a discussion that should rise above that. So no, Mr. President, join the full conversation going on around you, or don't -- you don't get to be part of any of it. Is the concern over there really about being dragged into the topic of sexual assault and harassment once again? Too bad. That should have been considered in how you responded to your accusers during the campaign. And that should have been considered before your campaign brought Bill Clinton's accusers to one of the presidential debates. So, too bad. You don't get to pick and choose when this issue matters and when it doesn't. You don't.

    From the November 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

    JULIE BANDERAS (CO-HOST): OK, but, Katie, let's not forget, President Trump originally did support [Sen.] Luther Strange [(R-AL)] in the special election, while [Breitbart chairman] Steve Bannon backed [Republican Senate candidate Roy] Moore. And so far President Trump has refused to comment on Moore. But you have to understand that politics are going to play a role here. I mean, maybe he's waiting for, perhaps, the local GOP in Alabama to come up with another candidate. Could that be the reason why President Trump is trying to stay out of this? Because a lot is riding on the GOP not to screw it up in Alabama.