Fox Defends Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” Proposal As Other Journalists Criticize It

Fox Defends Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” Proposal As Other Journalists Criticize It

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Fox News figures are praising Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposal to have “extreme vetting” of immigrants wanting to come into the United States and using questionnaires to vet their beliefs, saying “we’ve done it before,” that it “made sense,” and that it was part of a “a solution-based program.” Meanwhile, other journalists and media outlets are saying the idea “just beggars belief” and is an “impractical” attempt “to recast his Muslim ban in other, less obviously offensive terms.”

Donald Trump Proposes “Extreme Vetting Of Immigrants

AP: Trump Calls For “Extreme Vetting” Of Immigrants. Donald Trump in an August 15 speech called for “extreme vetting” and a temporary halt of immigrants into the United States, according to the Associated Press. Trump’s aides said federal agencies would be using questionnaires that would vet applicants based on their “stances on issues including religious freedom, gender equality and gay rights.” From the August 16 article:

Donald Trump is calling for "extreme" vetting of immigrants seeking admission to the United States, but he's offering few specifics about how that might work, how long it might last or how taxpayers would foot the bill.

Trump, who had previously called for an unprecedented temporary ban on immigration by Muslims, vowed Monday to overhaul the country's screening process and block those who sympathize with extremist groups or don't embrace American values.

"Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into our country," Trump said in a foreign policy address in Youngstown, Ohio. "Only those who we expect to flourish in our country - and to embrace a tolerant American society - should be issued visas."


The candidate's aides said federal agencies would use questionnaires, social media, interviews with family and friends or other means to vet applicants' stances on issues including religious freedom, gender equality and gay rights. Trump did not clarify how U.S. officials would assess the veracity of responses to the questionnaires or how much manpower it would require to complete such arduous vetting.

He did say that implementing the policy overhaul would require a temporary halt in immigration from "the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism." [Associated Press, 8/16/16]

Fox Lauds Trump’s Proposal As Part Of A “A Solution-Based Program”

Fox’s Steve Doocy: “Extreme Vetting, We’ve Done It Before.” Fox News co-host Steve Doocy claimed “extreme vetting” was “something we’ve done … before,” and agreed when co-host Ainsley Earhardt said, “I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to know who exactly is in our country.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade also said the proposal was “not new” as “we did have an Alien and Sedition Act” “to make sure people here weren’t against us.” From the August 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): It’s amazing when [Trump] comes out with a solid policy speech and he willing to back it up. Then all of a sudden it becomes a more intelligent, elevated conversation. And you don't just see the rhetoric going back and forth. I think people had wanted to land a blow on Donald Trump yesterday, watching all the networks, and no one really could.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Right, Newt Gingrich said it was the most important foreign policy speech that he has heard since Ronald Reagan. Said he did a remarkable job.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): He did indeed. And regarding the ideological test, where they said, “If you don't believe in our Constitution, you probably shouldn't be allowed in the country.”

EARHARDT: That makes sense, right?

DOOCY: Yeah, what’s the matter with that?

EARHARDT: I don’t know.

DOOCY: John made a great point. If they have like a questionnaire and they interview friends or family and they ask about the beliefs and stuff like that -- what's to keep somebody from just saying exactly what it takes to get past the door? You could lie on it.

KILMEADE: Right. But you got to be good. I mean, the people got to be trained to find out -- and to look into people's history and be able to Google them, unlike we did with that couple in San Bernardino. Keep in mind when Donald Trump brings this up, this is not new. When the communist threat was the number one threat, we did have an Alien and Sedition Act that dated back to 1798, when we were worried about going to war with France. We wanted to make sure people here weren’t against us. In the 1950s, the McCarran Act, I should say,addressed the Red Scare here. So, if you're a communist, we need you to register because we have to keep an eye on you And because that was the number one threat at that time, as is Islamic extremists today.

EARHARDT: I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to know who exactly is in our country.

DOOCY: Yeah, exactly. So the point is -- extreme vetting, we've done it before. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/16/16]

Frequent Fox Guest Zuhdi Jasser: “America Has Done This Before.” Frequent Fox guest Zuhdi Jasser praised Trump’s speech for creating “a conversation about how vetting should happen.” He claimed “America has done this before” when “we fought the Cold War” against “communist ideologues” and said “we need to start doing that.” From the August 15 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto:

TRISH REGAN (GUEST HOST): Donald Trump calling for “extreme vetting” to stop suspected ISIS terrorists at the border. Let's go right now to American Islamic Forum for Democracy’s Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, someone who has called repeatedly for reform in Islam. Dr. Jasser, good to have you here. How do you interpret what he said?

ZUHDI JASSER: Well I think it's finally happening, we're finally having a conversation about how vetting should happen. And this is what our Muslim reform movement’s been calling for, is that our Statue of Liberty means something. It’s about those who share our values of freedom, liberty, free speech, equality of men and women, the equality of anyone based on gender identity, et cetera. This is the way to vet people wanting to come here and vetting -- remember right now, of the refugees, studies have shown that 13 percent had sympathy for ISIS. That's because they're not vetting for ideology. America has done this before. We fought Cold War where we vetted against communist ideologues, we vetted against those who were in favor in working with the Soviets, et cetera. We need to start doing that. Will it be foolproof? No. But right now we're doing none of it. And I'm glad to no longer be hearing about this ban of Muslims, et cetera, that doesn't work. We need to do theo-political vetting, which is finally what we’re starting to talk about. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/15/16]

Fox’s Greg Gutfeld: Trump’s Proposal “Made Sense.” Fox co-host Greg Gutfeld said Trump’s proposal “made sense” and compared it to “ renting a room or an apartment to someone” and “check[ing] their references.” From the August 15 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): I thought -- when he introduced this new part about immigration policies, to me it made sense. I mean, let's say you're renting a room or an apartment to someone. What do you do? You check their references. You look up their online profiles. I do this when I'm hiring interns. It's disturbing.


But it’s not just for you, the landlord, it’s for the other tenants. So the idea that you are “extreme vetting,” which sounds like an Olympic event, is actually not about Trump, it’s about everybody else. [Fox News, The Five, 8/15/16]

Fox’s Sean Hannity: Trump’s Speech Focused On “A Solution-Based Program” On Immigration. Fox host Sean Hannity praised Trump’s speech, saying he “laid out a solution-based program on how he would do things differently from immigration, to vetting refugees, to security, to identifying radical Islam and on and on.” From the August 15 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let me go to Donald Trump’s speech for a minute. I actually think that today's speech was probably the best speech he has given since he's been a candidate and I want to tell you why. He identified -- first of all, he wasn't talking about The New York Times, wasn't talking about the mayor of Baltimore or any other people. His focus was on two people, which I think should be the focus of this campaign: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He laid out a list of one terror example after another, one bad policy failure after another, one broken part of the world after another because of what they have done. And then he laid out a solution-based program on how he would do things differently from immigration, to vetting refugees, to security, to identifying radical Islam and on and on. To me that seems to be the paradigm that he ought to take for the rest of the campaign on every issue. Forget everybody else, identify the problem and the mistakes and offer solutions. [Fox News, Hannity, , 8/15/16]

But Experts And Other Media Outlets Trashed Trump’s Plan As “Unworkable”

CNN’s Clarissa Ward: Trump’s Proposal Using A Questionnaire Is "Really Just Beggars Belief.” CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward said Trump’s proposal is "really just beggars belief to me," because an ISIS operative is “not going to fill in a questionnaire saying, ‘I hate America, I want to hurt Americans, and implement Sharia law.’” Ward also pointed out that the U.S. already has “one of the most stringent vetting processes that there is” for refugees. From the August 16 edition of CNN’s New Day:

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Clarissa, help us understand what the process is. Is Donald Trump right that there could be better vetting of refugees or, as the Department of Homeland Security says, do they already have what they consider “extreme vetting” in terms of a painstaking process? How does it work?

CLARISSA WARD: Well, I think the U.S. is very well known for having one of the most stringent vetting processes that there is. As a result, the U.S. has only taken 8,000 Syrian refugees as compared to the more than 800,000 that Germany alone has taken. So, the idea that you would have some kind of a questionnaire really just beggars belief to me, Alisyn, because clearly if I am an ISIS operative, I am not going to fill in a questionnaire saying, “I hate America,” I want to hurt Americans, and implement Sharia law.” So I'm not exactly sure how this questionnaire or this vetting process would work, but suffice it to say, that ISIS operatives are at least sophisticated enough, I would think, to be able to handle that kind of questioning fairly adeptly. And that is the entire problem. He talked very broadly about, “We must just ban recruitment, stop recruitment.” Well, that sounds like a great idea. How do we do it? His suggestion was to shut down the internet in certain parts of the world, which first of all I don't think is logistically feasible. But beyond that, I would venture to say that our security services glean a lot of their intelligence from information that they gather online. So, as you just heard from Jackie, a kind of mishmash of ideas coming through, but none of them really seeming clearly to me to make the case for better security. [CNN, New Day, 8/16/16]

Politico: “Many Of Trump’s Ideas Will Be Nearly Impossible To Implement.” Politico foreign affairs correspondent Nahal Toosi cited immigration experts to explain that “many of Trump’s ideas” in his speech, such as the ideological vetting, “will be nearly impossible to implement.” From the August 15 Politico article:

Donald Trump on Monday laid out some big plans to change the U.S. immigration system, calling for the suspension of immigration from regions that have "a history of exporting terrorism" and the roll-out of an ideological test to weed out foreigners who may support "radical Islamic terrorism."

The problem, people familiar with the immigration system say, is that many of Trump's ideas will be nearly impossible to implement.


Constitutionality aside, the ideological test proposed by Trump poses challenges on a sheer logistical level, and could cost huge amounts of money to implement. Would the test come in the form of a questionnaire? Interviews with consular officers? The deployment of people to scour immigration applicants' social media accounts?
And what counts as an un-American value?

In his speech, Trump castigated radical Islamists for their hatred of gays, but would he argue that evangelical Christians from South Korea who also denounce homosexuality should be barred from visiting the United States?

"Immigration to the United States would grind to a near halt if millions of people are subject to background checks based on subjective criteria," said Cornell University law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr, who added: "This proposal would also cost billions of dollars to implement. Business people and visitors could not be able to plan quick trips to the United States because they would not know how long an ideological background check would take." [Politico, 8/15/16]

CNN’s Philip Mudd: “I Don’t Think” Trump’s Proposal “Would Be Enforceable.” CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd said of Trump’s proposal, “I don't think it would be enforceable.” He added, “How confident are we that [applicants are] not going to walk in saying, “I'm a loyal American, I want to be a loyal American?” From the August 15 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:

BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): So, that was one piece [Trump] talked about, talking about U.S. allies under a Trump presidency. And two Phil Mudd, he talked about people who’d want to come into the United States, referenced the Cold War and ideological screening then and called, what he would call “extreme vetting,” so if you try to come into the United States, there would be some sort of test for entry. If you are anti-Semitic, anti-gay, or other views that would conflict with U.S. values. A, would it be enforceable? B, would that be constitutional? Phil?

PHILIP MUDD: I don't know if it would be constitutional. I can tell you I don't think it would be enforceable, with one major asterisk. And let's get to that, because he didn't address it. When you have a screening process on the front end -- let's take the San Bernardino killers. How confident are we that they’re not going to walk in saying, “I'm a loyal American, I want to be a loyal American?” The question to me is simpler. Once they get here and they do something wrong -- we’ve typically been very welcoming to people once they arrive. What he's suggesting is a fundamental choice for American voters. Do you want to be quicker to tell somebody who has some of the rights of the Americans that we're going to expel them if we see, for example, ISIS-sympathetic literature on a Facebook post, if a neighbor says, “I heard him say something about ISIS?” It's not screening on the front end. It's what you do on the back end. [CNN, CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, 8/15/16]

Wash. Post Editorial Board: Trump’s “Impractical” Proposal Is An “Attempt To Recast His Muslim Ban” In “Less Obviously Offensive Terms.” The Washington Post’s editorial board called Trump’s proposal “a transparent (and impractical) attempt to recast his Muslim ban in other, less obviously offensive terms.” The board also doubted whether Trump himself “could pass such a test.” From the August 15 editorial:

His real contribution to the debate, if one can call it that, remains a disturbing obsession with restrictive immigration policies focused on eliminating Muslim migration and heightening suspicion of Muslims already here. Mr. Trump once again restyled his Muslim immigration ban, this time in ideological terms: Those who do not demonstrate a commitment to American values would not be allowed into the country. (Never mind, for now, whether Mr. Trump could pass such a test.) Mr. Trump would end immigration from areas of the world his administration deemed too dangerous, and he would create a system of “extreme vetting” for those considered for entry. This is a transparent (and impractical) attempt to recast his Muslim ban in other, less obviously offensive terms. [The Washington Post, 8/15/16]

USA Today Editorial Board: Trump’s Proposal Is “Unworkable.” USA Today’s editorial board called Trump’s proposal “unworkable,” asking, “How, exactly, is that supposed to work? Would people with bad attitudes willingly confess those to immigration agents?” From the August 15 editorial:

But when it came to the blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States, the proposal Trump made during his bid for the GOP nomination, the candidate replaced the un-American with the unworkable. Instead of a Muslim ban, Trump spoke of "extreme vetting" of "people who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles."

How, exactly, is that supposed to work? Would people with bad attitudes willingly confess those to immigration agents? Would the Trump administration develop special X-ray machines to see what intentions are inside people's heads? One wonders how many U.S. citizens would fail Trump's ideological screening test. [USA Today, 8/15/16]

NY Times Editorial Board: Trump’s Proposal Would “Undermine The Very American Values Of Tolerance And Equal Treatment That He Said He Wanted To Encourage.” The New York Times’ editorial board wrote that Trump’s proposal was an “ideological test” that would “undermine the very American values of tolerance and equal treatment that he said he wanted to encourage.” From the August 16 editorial:

Meanwhile, with terrorism as his central focus, Mr. Trump doubled down on the anti-refugee themes that have dominated his campaign, dressing them up as a national security issue. He proposed a new “extreme vetting” approach to immigration that would impose an ideological test on newcomers and undermine the very American values of tolerance and equal treatment that he said he wanted to encourage. He also called for the creation of a commission that would “expose the networks in our society that support radicalization,” which struck many listeners as an uncomfortable echo of McCarthyism. [The New York Times, 8/16/16]

LA Times Editorial Board: Trump’s Description Of How He’d Combat Terrorism At Home Was “Alarming.” The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board wrote that Trump’s “ideological screening test” proposed during his speech was “alarming.” From the August 15 editorial:

More interesting — and alarming — was Trump’s description of how he would combat “radical Islamic extremism” at home. Essentially, he would seek to promote liberal values, such as autonomy for women and tolerance for gays and lesbians, by adopting the conservative tactics of the 1950s.

“In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test,” Trump said. “The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.” Instead of excluding immigrants with communist views, he suggested, a Trump administration would bar immigrants “who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles — or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.” (How he would test for such attitudes — and why those who harbored them wouldn’t conceal them — went unexplained.) [Los Angeles Times, 8/15/16]

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