Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson, who recently pushed an immigration plan that would force undocumented immigrants to become enslaved workers if they refuse to leave, has hosted Republican presidential candidates 43 times in 2015. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) leads all candidates with 11 appearances; former Gov. Mike Huckabee has appeared 8 times.
On his August 17 show, Mickelson proposed an immigration plan that included posting signs around Iowa warning undocumented immigrants that they could either leave or "become property of the state." When confronted by a caller who said the plan sounded like slavery, Mickelson responded, "what's wrong with slavery?"
Asked by Media Matters to explain his comments, Mickelson argued his plan was "constitutionally defensible, legally defensible, morally defensible, biblically defensible and historically defensible." He claimed Republican presidential candidates "would understand [his position] from a historical and intellectual point of view," adding, "most of them would understand my point isn't serious, the point is philosophical" -- though he told a caller on the 17th, "you think I'm just pulling your leg. I am not."
According to a Media Matters analysis of Mickelson's show, in 2015 alone he has hosted most of the Republican presidential field. Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Jim Gilmore, Chris Christie, George Pataki, and John Kasich have not appeared on his program this year (click to enlarge):
According to a tweet by Mickelson, he said he hosted Trump "a few months ago," but it appears that was in October 2014 and outside the scope of this analysis. One of Carson's appearances was during an episode featuring a guest host.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared on the program on August 21 amid widespread outrage over Mickelson's immigration proposal, but the controversial plan was not discussed.
Mickelson told Media Matters earlier this week about how candidates end up on his show: "They'll come, they'll pursue it and say 'can we come on,' and 'sure,' I don't chase them around looking for them to come on, they usually call and ask me."
Although these recent inflammatory comments have garnered significant attention -- due in part to Mickelson's kingmaker status in the state -- Mickelson has a long history of making offensive comments about immigrants. Earlier this year, Mickelson said he assumed anyone with a Hispanic last name who gets in trouble with police is "not here legally" and called educating undocumented children at public schools "a scam." Mickelson has also suggested bringing back Jim Crow-era voting laws such as something similar to a literacy test.
Mickelson has promoted his anti-immigration theories during interviews with candidates, including pushing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to embrace the argument that undocumented children shouldn't be allowed to attend public schools and asking Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) if they believed a debunked Dick Morris conspiracy theory about the Trans Pacific Partnership including a provision for unrestricted immigration to the United States.
Media Matters listened to every edition of Mickelson In The Morning from Jan 1, 2015, through August 21, 2015, and counted every time all declared and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate were hosted.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is scheduled to appear on Jan Mickelson's radio show tomorrow, just days after the Iowa host proposed a plan to enslave undocumented immigrants if they refuse to leave the country.
On his August 17 show, Mickelson proposed an immigration plan that included posting signs around Iowa warning undocumented immigrants that they could either leave or "become property of the state." He added, "And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do." When confronted about his plan by a caller who said "everybody would believe it sounds like slavery," Mickelson responded, "what's wrong with slavery?"
During an interview with Media Matters, Mickelson stood by his comments, calling them "constitutionally defensible, legally defensible, morally defensible, biblically defensible and historically defensible." He claimed you would likely only have to force "maybe one or two people" to work in a "highly visible fashion," which would lead to "a vast sucking sound of illegals departing the state."
Republican presidential candidates have flocked to Mickelson's show. According to Mickelson, candidates "would understand [his position] from a historical and intellectual point of view," and "most of them would understand my point isn't serious, the point is philosophical." (On his show the day he laid out his plan, Mickelson told a caller, "you think I'm just pulling your leg. I am not.")
MICKELSON: Good morning everybody, welcome back to the conversation. I'm Jan Mickelson. We have some open line time between now and the bottom of the hour when The Big Show starts. Tomorrow's program, at a little bit after 9 o'clock [AM CST] we'll be talking with Senator Ted Cruz. He will be out here as a presidential candidate. That should be lots and lots of fun and very, very interesting. He's one of the most dynamic speakers on the tour this time and I've been reading some of his think pieces as a legal scholar in one of the Texas legal scholarly magazines and I'm going to be talking to him about some of that tomorrow morning. That should be interesting.
Mickelson told Media Matters that presidential candidates actively pursue appearances on his show: "They'll come, they'll pursue it and say 'can we come on,' and 'sure,' I don't chase them around looking for them to come on, they usually call and ask me."
On August 19, Cruz was endorsed by Steve Deace, another prominent Iowa-based conservative radio host. Like Mickelson, Deace has made offensive remarks about the LGBT and immigrant communities. He also recently suggested that the Republican Party should have thanked presidential candidate Donald Trump for his suggestion that Mexican immigrants are rapists.
Iowa radio host and influential conservative kingmaker Jan Mickelson unveiled an immigration plan that would make undocumented immigrants who don't leave the country after an allotted time "property of the state," asking, "What's wrong with slavery?" when a caller criticized his plan.
On the August 17 edition of his radio show, Mickelson announced that he had a plan to drive undocumented immigrants out of Iowa that involved making those who don't leave "property of the state" who are forced into "compelled labor," like building a wall on the US-Mexican border. Listen (emphasis added in transcript):
JAN MICKELSON: Now here is what would work. And I was asked by an immigration open border's activist a couple of weeks ago, how I would get all the illegals here in the state of Iowa to leave. "Are you going to call the police every time you find an illegal, are you going to round them up and put them in detention centers?"
I said, "No you don't have to do any of that stuff."
"Well you going to invite them to leave the country and leave Iowa?"
And I said, "Well, sort of."
"Well how you going to do it, Mickelson? You think you're so smart. How would you get thousands of illegals to leave Iowa?"
Well, I said, "Well if I wanted to do that I would just put up some signs."
"Well what would the signs say?"
I said, "Well I'd would put them on the end of the highway, on western part of the interstate system, and I'd put them on the eastern side of the state, right there on the interstate system, and in the north on the Minnesota border, and on the south Kansas and Missouri border and I would just say this: 'As of this date' -- whenever we decide to do this -- 'as of this date, 30--' this is a totally arbitrary number, '30 to 60 days from now anyone who is in the state of Iowa that who is not here legally and who cannot demonstrate their legal status to the satisfaction of the local and state authorities here in the State of Iowa, become property of the State of Iowa.' So if you are here without our permission, and we have given you two months to leave, and you're still here, and we find that you're still here after we we've given you the deadline to leave, then you become property of the State of Iowa. And we have a job for you. And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do.
"Well how would you apply that logic to what Donald Trump is trying to do? Trying to get Mexico to pay for the border and for the wall?"
"Same way. We say, 'Hey, we are not going to make Mexico pay for the wall, we're going to invite the illegal Mexicans and illegal aliens to build it. If you have come across the border illegally, again give them another 60-day guideline, you need to go home and leave this jurisdiction, and if you don't you become property of the United States, and guess what? You will be building a wall. We will compel your labor. You would belong to these United States. You show up without an invitation, you get to be an asset. You get to be a construction worker. Cool!'
When a caller confronted Mickelson and said his plan amounted to "slavery," Mickelson replied, "What's wrong with slavery?" Mickelson told the caller his plan was "moral," "legal," and "politically doable" and should be modeled after Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "tent village" (emphasis added in transcript):
MICKELSON: So anyway back to the point. Put up a sign that says at the end of 60 days, if you are not here with our permission, can't prove your legal status, you become property of the state. And then we start to extort or exploit or indenture your labor. This is Fred. Good morning Fred.
CALLER: Hey good morning, how are you?
MICKELSON: I'm doing great.
CALLER: Great. Well you caught me--I was up at 4 o'clock this morning, I'm travelling from Tulsa through Des Moines. I think I'll stop by the state fair to see Carly and them, but your idea is clever on the face but it sounds an awful lot like slavery. I don't think - I think it'll go over like a lead balloon.
MICKELSON: No, just read the Constitution, Fred. What does the Constitution say about slavery?
CALLER: Well didn't we fix that in about 1865?
MICKELSON: Yeah we sure did and I'm willing to live with their fix. What does the 13th Amendment say?
CALLER: Well you know I don't have my Constitution in front of me and you know like I say, it sounds like a clever idea and maybe you can make it - put it in action, but I think the fall out would be so significant. And I, you know --
MICKELSON: What would be the nature of the fall out?
CALLER: Well I think everybody would believe it sounds like slavery?
MICKELSON: Well, what's wrong with slavery?
CALLER: Well we know what's wrong with slavery.
MICKELSON: Well apparently we don't because when we allow millions of people to come into the country who aren't here legally and people who are here are indentured to those people to pay their bills, their education of their kids, pay for their food, their food stamps, their medical bills, in some cases even subsidize their housing, and somehow the people who own the country, who pay the bills, pay the taxes, they get indentured to the new people who are not even supposed to be here. Isn't that a lot like slavery?
CALLER: Well you know, you're singing my song; we're all slaves today the way the government is growing -
MICKELSON: If that's the case, maybe it's time to reverse the process. Isn't this a perfectly good time to do that?
CALLER: Well that'll swing the pendulum back in a pretty broad swing and maybe too far and we may end up swinging back the other way further left than we are right now. I take it about halfway Jan. I think it's a clever idea, it's worth throwing out there. It isn't an easy topic -
MICKELSON: No this is pretty simple, actually this is very simple, what my solution is moral and it's legal. And I can't think - and it's also politically doable.
CALLER: So are you going to house all these people who have chosen to be indentured?
MICKELSON: Yes, yes, absolutely in a minimal fashion. We would take a lesson from Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio down in Arizona. Put up a tent village, we feed and water these new assets, we give them minimal shelter, minimal nutrition, and offer them the opportunity to work for the benefit of the taxpayers of the state of Iowa. All they have to do to avoid servitude is to leave.
CALLER: [laughing] Hey, good luck.
MICKELSON: All right, thank you very much I appreciate it.
CALLER: You bet. You bet.
MICKELSON: You think I'm just pulling your leg. I am not.
Mickelson has a history of making racially-charged, anti-immigrant remarks but he also has a strong pull with conservative caucus voters in Iowa. His influence is so big that he recently hosted several 2016 GOP candidates on his show, including Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson during their visits to the Iowa State Fair. After Mickelson defended his immigrant-slave plan, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) appeared on his show. Not surprisingly, Mickelson's immigration plan didn't come up.
Iowa radio host Steve Deace hosted Troy Newman, a radical anti-abortion activist and president of anti-choice group Operation Rescue, to hype the deceptively edited Planned Parenthood videos Newman helped produce and release. Newman has a history of violent speech and actions directed at abortion service providers, including systematically harassing clinic workers and defending the murder of an abortion clinic doctor.
Following the July 21 release of a second deceptively edited video purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood staff member engaging in a discussion about "selling" fetal tissue for medical science, Deace hosted Newman to discuss the videos he admitted helping create:
Although not discussed by Deace, who also has some extreme thoughts of his own about women's reproductive rights, Newman and Operation Rescue have a track record of aggressive anti-choice rhetoric and actions. According to a 2003 Operation Rescue West press release, Newman defended Paul Jennings Hill, an anti-abortion activist who murdered a Florida abortion doctor and his security guard in 1994. In the release Newman said Hill's conviction was unfair because Hill was unable to present "the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action" to "save the lives of pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day."
For his part, Newman has engaged in personal harassment of clinic staff. As the Los Angeles Times reported in a February 17, 2004 article, he planned to stalk clinic workers -- who he compared to infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele -- to "make it clear they're not welcome in Wichita":
Newman will pick through clinic workers' trash to figure out where they do business; he'll trail them at a distance to learn their routines.
His goal is not just to make their lives uncomfortable. He wants to unsettle and disgust their friends and associates, so their hairstylists and their pharmacists, even their neighbors, make it clear they're not welcome in Wichita.
"If Josef Mengele came into a bank saying, 'Here are a few gold teeth I ripped out of the Jews before I gassed them,' the bank would be horrified. They'd say, 'I'm not taking your blood money.' That's the picture of abortionists that we have to paint," Newman said.
The videos Newman's organization consulted on and took credit for on Deace's show are full of deceptive edits and do not show any illegal activity. As the New York Times explained in an editorial discussing the videos, the full first video, which was edited down from over two hours to less than 10 minutes, "shows something very different from what these critics claim" by "eliminat[ing] statements made by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation." The editorial continued:
The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal. Lawmakers responding by promoting their own anti-choice agenda are rewarding deception and putting women's health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk.
Factcheck.org agreed, saying the deceptively edited videos did not show Planned Parenthood violating any laws and highlighting experts who said that the money discussed in the video "represents a reasonable fee" for tissue donation.
Journalists planning to cover the upcoming Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa should be aware of the extreme anti-gay rhetoric regularly voiced by several of the event's sponsors and speakers, including host Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader and one of the most influential conservative activists in Iowa. Attendees will also hear from Tony Perkins, the head of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council and Brian Brown, the head of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, among others.
After days of criticizing "sanctuary cities" and claiming they give safe haven to criminals and terrorists, Fox News' Sean Hannity had little to say on the matter while interviewing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who enforced his own "sanctuary policies" during his eight years in office.
Following the July 1 shooting death of a San Francisco woman allegedly by an undocumented immigrant, conservative media reignited a debate on so-called "sanctuary cities," which limit local police enforcement of federal immigration laws. Hannity made his views known by declaring such cities dangerous safe havens for criminals and terrorists.
But then, on the July 8 edition of his show, Hannity hosted former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to discuss "sanctuary cities" and the unsubstantiated claim that undocumented immigrants, in general, engage in a wide range of criminal activity. Giuliani explained that New York City's "sanctuary city" policy -- which he admitted he helped develop -- was adopted as a way to reduce crime by focusing on immigrant criminals instead of undocumented crime victims who aid police, children whose parents may be undocumented, or people seeking emergency hospital treatment. Guiliani described his city's policy as one of "don't ask." Hannity's only comment was to agree that not deporting undocumented residents who help with police investigations "makes sense" before he refocused the conversation on undocumented criminals. He neither refuted nor criticized Guiliani's explanation of the valid reasons to establish "sanctuary cities." Watch:
While Guiliani attempted to distance New York's policy from that of San Francisco, the fact is that New York's policy is nearly identical to San Francisco's and other "sanctuary cities'." As FactCheck.org pointed out after Guiliani attempted to claim that New York was never a "sanctuary city," cities like Seattle and San Francisco have similar "sanctuary policies" but if someone commits a crime, "then, in virtually all these localities and states, you're no longer protected or insulated":
New York's executive order, first issued in 1989 and later renewed by Giuliani, called for local-federal cooperation in cases of suspected criminal activity and also allowed city employees to talk to federal agencies about an immigrant when it was "required by law." Other cities on CRS' list have similar requirements. San Francisco, for instance, which declares itself "a City and County of Refuge," permits cooperation between law enforcement and federal authorities if an immigrant is arrested on felony charges or has been previously convicted of a felony. Seattle's policy says: "Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prohibit any Seattle city officer or employee from cooperating with federal immigration authorities as required by law." Police may also ask about immigration status if an officer believes a felony suspect previously may have been deported.
"There are different levels of detail in the policies. There are different goals in the policies," says Marshall Fitz of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "But for the most part, I think they are designed to provide a comfort level to immigrants that the police are, unless you're engaged in a crime, the police are not immigration agents. ... If you commit a crime ... well then, in virtually all of these localities and states, you're no longer protected or insulated."
San Francisco and other "sanctuary cities" -- like New York, which under Guiliani attempted to sue the federal government to ensure its sanctuary policies were not dismantled by federal legislation -- have been found to be in accordance with all federal and state laws. In addition, as the Congressional Research Service has noted, as long as there is no specific policy banning the transfer of information from local authorities to federal immigration authorities, which don't collect such information -- or as Giuliani said, have a "don't ask" policy -- all "sanctuary cities" are in accordance with federal law and legal precedence.
In the wake of the shooting death of a San Francisco woman by an undocumented immigrant, Fox News has blamed so-called "sanctuary city" policies for the murder, incorrectly claiming that these policies are illegal. However, multiple experts and government officials have confirmed that these local and state policies do not conflict with federal immigration law.
As national media begin to focus their political coverage on campaigning by Republican presidential candidates in the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary, it's incumbent upon journalists to disclose the history of misinformation and conservative bias of the state's top newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, as well as the ties between the Koch brothers and oft-quoted state political expert Charles Arlinghaus.
A June 30 report by Politico highlighted how the crowded field of GOP contenders are viewing next January's first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire as "do or die" and already jostling for position. The piece said, "Never before have so many White House hopefuls bet so much on a single primary," and included quotes from Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, and Drew Cline, editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. But Politico failed to mention Arlinghaus' ties to the Koch brothers and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or the Union Leader's long history of publishing conservative misinformation.
As other New Hampshire newspapers have been closing their state house bureaus because of budget cuts, the Union Leader's voice in statewide politics has gained prominence. Fox News is co-hosting a debate in August with the paper and presidential candidates are lining up to be interviewed by the Union Leader's publisher via live streaming. With so much access to candidates, and hardly any competition, the Union Leader's outsized influence could push candidates further to the right.
Publisher Joe McQuaid enjoys a prominent role as a must-visit member of the media for presidential primary candidates. In addition to his publishing duties, McQuaid has written sensationalist editorials for the paper, including one that called for a travel ban during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa -- a move most experts agreed would only exacerbate the spread of the virus. As the Daily Beast pointed out in the run-up to the 2012 election, McQuaid "is one of the more influential voices in American politics." McQuaid himself "figures that the Union Leader 'may be able to sway a few percentage points in close elections,'" much of that due to the editorial stance of the paper, which is written by only two people: McQuaid and editor Cline, who also runs the editorial page.
Although the 2012 Union Leader-endorsed candidate, Newt Gingrich, failed to win the primary, Gingrich's polling numbers spiked following the endorsement. However, as Politico explained, because of the way the Union Leader operates, the endorsement the paper gives is more than just a "one-time front-page feature," because the paper "tends to interweave its endorsement with its news coverage, bolstering its pick and attacking the other candidates ... most likely in addition to the opinion columns that tend to run in the paper echoing the official choice."
The two-man editorial board of McQuaid and Cline often echoes national conservative media talking points. The board has fabricated a need for harmful voter ID laws, attacked successful Head Start programs -- which help provide a pre-K education for New Hampshire's children - and even downplayed the impact of sequestration's steep budget cuts.
The Union Leader's editorial board has been attacking President Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since 2010 and published a massive amount of misinformation on the law. The board warned of spiking insurance premium prices that never came to pass, criticized cost-saving measures in the law, and said initial glitches in the rollout of the online exchanges meant the entire law was a failure. The board also attacked Medicaid expansion and promoted a misguided voucher program to privatize the program.
On foreign policy issues, the Union Leader has demonstrated reckless bias by calling opponents of the release of the Senate report on CIA torture "wusses," and pushed a false narrative that blamed Hillary Clinton for the kidnapping of hundreds of African girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
Outside of its opinion pages, the Union Leader has also at times blatantly misinformed its readers. In 2013, the paper published a lightly-edited press release authored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) -- the Koch brothers-funded conservative advocacy group -- attacking the ACA. The article gave free publicity to AFP while helping to fulfill its larger mission, which, according to The Washington Post, is to "spread as much confusion and dishonesty about the [health care] law as possible."
The conservative slant to the Union Leader's news section is also apparent in what the paper chooses not to cover. A 2012 Media Matters study found that it failed to report on the "environmental, health, and economic benefits" of new government regulations in stories that emphasized how they would hurt the economy.
The Union Leader also publishes a regular op-ed by Charles Arlinghaus, the president of the Josiah Bartlett Institute, a think tank with strong connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council's conservative model-legislation mill (ALEC). In 2012, Arlinghaus and ALEC representatives co-hosted an event to denounce the Affordable Care Act.
The Josiah Bartlett Institute is part of the Koch brothers-funded State Policy Network -- state-based think tanks that incubate and legitimize conservative policy ideas that often benefit corporate sponsors. A representative for the Center for Media and Democracy told the Nashua Telegraph that Koch donations associated with Arlinghaus and the institute show that Arlinghaus is "working on a national conservative agenda, not a local, New Hampshire-based agenda."
Simon Conway, one of most influential voices in Iowa talk radio, missed an opportunity June 24 to press Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on his support for the Duggar family in the wake of its child molestation scandal -- something he promised to do just two weeks ago. On his June 25 show, Conway had another opportunity to press a GOP candidate on a divisive issue -- this time, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has defended the right of states to fly the Confederate battle flag, which Conway has equated with Nazi imagery. He again failed to do so.
On his June 4 show, Conway responded to Mike Huckabee's public vow to stand by and continue to support, and receive support from, the Duggar family despite the revelation that Jim Bob Dugger covered up his son Josh's molestation of several children. Conway initially posited that part of the reason Huckabee wouldn't come on his show was because he knew Conway would bring it up, and he vowed that the next time he interviewed Huckabee, he would, promising, "This is not something I want to see swept under the carpet."
Conway had that chance on his June 24 show, but despite having Huckabee on for three full segments - almost the entire first hour of his show -- Conway did not press him on the Duggar controversy.
Radio host Michael Berry criticized the decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds by positing that if the gunman were Muslim, no one would be calling to "outlaw the Koran" or mosques in response.
On his June 23 show, Berry, who is an outspoken proponent of the Confederate battle flag, criticized the calls to remove the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds in response to the fatal shootings of nine black church members on June 17. Dylann Storm Roof, who has been charged with the attack, told law enforcement officials he was influenced by white supremacists, who see the Confederate flag as a symbol of their beliefs. Berry said taking down the flag made no sense because when a Muslim commits a terrorist attack -- something he falsely claimed is more likely than an attack by a non-Muslim -- there aren't any calls to "outlaw the Koran" or to "outlaw mosques."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, attacks on Muslims after 9/11 "skyrocketed some 1,600%," and as recently as 2010, some 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes were committed. North Carolina and Florida have passed "anti-sharia" laws, and as The New York Times reported, towns in Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin have tried to stop the construction or expansion of mosques.