Media Matters' Kristian Ramos Outlines How “The Mainstream Media Legitimized” Anti-Immigrant Nativist Groups With White Nationalist Ties

Ramos: “At A Bare Minimum, As A Journalist, You Should Provide Context And Framing For The Information You're Providing”

From the January 5 edition of WIOD's The Fernand Amandi Show:

FERNAND AMANDI (HOST): Lets get into the guts of what Media Matters is putting out. Why does your organization believe that it was the media that ha​d​ the responsibility for elevating these white supremacist, anti-immigration, nativist groups?

KRISTIAN RAMOS: Let's start from the top here, which is the FAIR, CIS, NumbersUSA; they constitute what we call the nativist lobby. What's important for people to understand ​about this ​is these guys have been around for a long, long time and that their founder, John Tanton, is a literal white nationalist who believes in eugenics​, right?​ Why this is significant and how this played into the election and everything else is the mainstream legitimized these voices in a huge way this cycle. USA Today, Washington Post, Politico; they frequently requested comment​ary​ from these organizations but then they didn't really identify who these groups were. And why does any of this matter? Because Donald Trump, the president-elect, actually uses these groups to inform the decision making process ​that ​he uses when he's picking policies that are going to affect all Americans.

AMANDI: Give us some examples where you and your organization have found explicitly -- in other words absolute truth that cannot be questioned, that Donald Trump himself is utilizing org​anization​s like FAIR, which is the Federation for American Immigration Reform; CIS, the Center for Immigration Studies; or NumbersUSA, groups that you suggest and allege have direct ties to white supremacists​. ​Where has Donald Trump utilized their facts and figures to support policy on immigration?

RAMOS: The easiest way to look is he cites CIS on his website. The other place that I would tell everyone to look is his advertisement. I think the big advertisement that he did this cycle, he cited CIS numbers in the thing. I think it's an important thing to contextualize. At the end of the day, we have an immigration system that doesn't work, and I think both sides of the aisle would agree on that. It's important to point out to people that these groups want to limit legal immigration; they want to stop people from coming here legally in addition to figuring out how to deal with the undocumented population. All of that is rooted in this sort of notion -- again, we have to go back to John Tanton and white nationalists here -- that people of color, right, it's not just Latinos, are inferior in some way to white people. ​Now, again, ​you can view our immigration system as broken and everything else and you can provide constructive ways of dealing with that, but the viewpoint, the ideological viewpoint of these organizations is such that they just don't want people who are not white in this country. Subtext, and in some cases actual, literal views.

AMANDI: ​So, let me understand, because  one of the things your organization​, Media Matters,​ is alleging is the media, the mainstream media, should not in any way either normalize or speak as these groups as legitimate groups even though they're ​​purporting facts and figures that you take question. ​What should, and ​​how should​ then​​,​ the media act from your perspective?

RAMOS: ​I think that t​his is actually very simple, you just have to cite that these guys are white -- these guys are nationalist organizations. Just say it. All we're asking is that if you are -- one, they probably shouldn't be cited. If you are going to cite them, at least let your readers know where ​this is coming from. I would venture that the vast majority of people reading the USA Today or The Washington Post would take whatever information is presented by a nativist group with a grain of salt. They would probably view those statistics a different way if they knew where they were coming from. So, at a bare minimum, as a journalist, you should provide context and framing for the information ​that ​you're providing, as opposed to just putting it out there, blanket as fact. And Fernand, you've mentioned a couple of times on your show, that we're alleging that this has happened. Go to our website. It's there, it's documented, where the USA Today, The Washington Post, and Politico have cited these organizations without providing the context of who they are and what they represent. 


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