The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, has long relied on mainstream credibility to spread its anti-immigrant messaging. Now, the right-wing podcast War Room: Pandemic is taking a victory lap as mainstream outlets continue to use it as a source on immigration.
FAIR pushes anti-immigrant policies, seeking to greatly reduce overall immigration. Its founder John Tanton was a eugenicist and white supremacist who, prior to his death, founded a network of anti-immigrant groups with the aim of carrying out his stated desire for America to remain a majority-white population.
Despite this extremist background, SPLC points out, “the group attempts to appear moderate, even though its record is extreme, particularly on racial issues. This strategy has paid off: In August 2009, FAIR President Dan Stein boasted that FAIR leaders had testified before Congress about 100 times.”
This strategy has also worked on media, with mainstream outlets repeatedly citing FAIR and another SPLC-designated hate group founded by Tanton, the Center for Immigration Studies, in their reporting on immigration. The New York Times recently cited CIS uncritically in an article on deportations, The Hill and Politico used FAIR and CIS employees to discuss the Ukrainian refugee crisis last spring, and other major papers and newswires have repeatedly used the groups in reporting on immigration.
On Thursday, former Trump adviser and podcaster Steve Bannon and radio host John Fredericks — a far-right, Virginia-based radio host who has repeatedly pushed election misinformation — praised the group’s media acceptance on the September 22 episode of Bannon’s War Room podcast: