The mainstream media has a big anti-immigrant problem. Following President Joe Biden unveiling his immigration overhaul package earlier this year, a number of major outlets quoted extremist groups on the proposal as if these organizations held any legitimacy. In one example, Media Matters found that NPR quoted or cited the groups in three different instances during a two-day period.
But this problem has been far more pervasive, a deeper look by the media watchdog has found. Media Matters reveals major outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, and The Associated Press have cumulatively cited anti-immigrant groups in over 200 articles from 2019 through this month. Two of the anti-immigrant organizations, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), are designated hate groups.
“Worse, of those 203 articles that cited these organizations, only 15% provided sufficient context of their extremist ties or of their connections to the Trump administration or restrictionist immigration officials,” Media Matters continued. “Reuters did not provide any of this context whatsoever in any articles that cited these Tanton-affiliated groups.”
Frankly, for me, having to over and over again repeat the origins of these organizations is exhausting and feels a bit like a sordid Groundhog Day, so you can read up past stuff right here. But the gist is that FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA were either directly founded or have ties to dead white nationalist John Tanton, who was an ophthalmologist by training and a racist by heart. Yet, national media outlets, which further include the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, keep quoting groups “as supposed authorities on immigration policy,” Media Matters said.
NPR earlier this year featured CIS executive director Mark Krikorian on its Up First podcast to comment on the president’s immigration proposal, where “NPR’s John Burnett introduced CIS as a group that ‘favors less immigration to the U.S,’” Media Matters reported at the time. That’s some irresponsible whitewashing, considering what CIS’ people have actually said. There’s one claim that “children and grandchildren of immigrants are committing a lot of crime,” another claim that “Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough,” and yet another claim that “being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for” former President Obama.
Krikorian himself once commented that the scrawling of the white supremacist terrorist who went to El Paso to kill Mexicans was “remarkably well-written for a 21-year-old loner.” But instead, Krikorian gets invited as a guest to discuss policy, because he’s totally a policy guy. You know, except for when he’s busy praising the manifesto of a white supremacist terrorist who went to El Paso to kill Mexicans.
At least one anti-immigrant group being cited by outlets as a think tank-type is also currently engaged in politically targeting Democrats, running digital ads against lawmakers who have voted for pro-immigrant legislation, Zachary Mueller of America’s Voice said. News that Senate Democrats are working to pass a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants through reconciliation has been driving FAIR and pals up the wall, and they’re trying to rile up opposition. But lawmakers should continue on without fear, because a path to citizenship is overwhelmingly popular among the public.
“This mainstreaming of extremist anti-immigrant sources is common on right-wing media platforms like Fox News,” Media Matters continued. “But major newspapers and wire services should be holding themselves to a higher standard than outlets like Fox News. And if they insist on continuing to cite Tanton organizations because the Republican position on immigration aligns with the racism these groups promote, then journalists are obligated to inform their readers of that ugly fact. Otherwise, these outlets are doing nothing less than willingly participating in the extremist misinformation campaign of white nationalists.”
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