Univision and the Los Angeles Times have thoroughly debunked an ad by the anti-immigrant group Californians For Population Stabilization (CAPS) that blames California's drought-induced water shortage on immigration.
Although CAPS presents itself as an organization focused on "preserv[ing] the environment," numerous experts have pointed out that the group disingenuously uses environmental concerns to promote an anti-immigrant agenda. For example, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has described CAPS as "a nativist organization masquerading as an environmental group." Similarly, Huffington Post reported that the executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) remarked of CAPS: "They're basically trying to find any way to spin their anti-immigrant vitriol, so hey, why not choose the environment?" And NBC News reported that "[t]he National Council of La Raza said CAPS can say their concern is the environment, but that it is actually an anti-immigrant group."
According to SPLC, CAPS is part of an anti-immigration network that includes several organizations that have been labeled as "hate groups." Further, SPLC notes that CAPS has received funding from the Pioneer Fund, which has bankrolled "leading Anglo-American race scientists." The California drought is not the first example of CAPS exploiting a crisis in order to advance its anti-immigrant agenda -- in 2011, the group used California's unemployment rate to advocate for "slow[ing] legal immigration."
CAPS' television ad that plays on concerns about the drought features a young boy asking, "[i]f Californians are having fewer children, why isn't there enough water?" On the May 27 edition of Univision's Noticiero Univision, correspondent Luis Megid interviewed San Francisco State University professor Oswaldo Garcia about the ad:
Garcia, a meteorology professor and tropical climatology expert, dismissed CAPS' claims. He noted that although California's population has grown, 80 percent of the state's developed water supply is used for agricultural -- not residential -- purposes.
The Los Angeles Times also rebutted CAPS in both a news article and column. Addressing CAPS' claims in a May 24 article, the Times reported:
Some drought experts have taken issue with [CAPS'] claims, pointing out that the majority of the state's water supports agriculture.
Blaming the drought on immigrants "doesn't fit the facts," said William Patzert, a climatologist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The drought is caused by meager snowpack and poor planning, he said, "not because the immigrants are drinking too much water or taking too many showers.
Others point out that many immigrants probably use less water than the average California resident because they tend to live in multi-family dwellings, not higher-consuming single-family homes.
"It's unlikely that the 'burden' of immigrants is very significant," said Stephanie Pincetl, professor in residence at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA."
Additionally, in a May 26 column, the Times' Michael Hiltzik wrote that CAPS was "exploit[ing]" the drought by "immigrant bashing," and added that "pointing the finger at immigrants" is "cynical, dishonest and factually incorrect." Hiltzik noted that even with population growth, "a sharp reduction in urban per capital water use" has allowed the state's total water consumption to go down (emphasis added):
The truth is that California has been able to sustain that huge increase in population without a commensurate increase in water consumption--actually, with a decrease in water consumption. In 1990, when the census placed the state's population at 29.8 million, the state's freshwater withdrawals came to 35.1 billion gallons per day, according to the authoritative U.S. Geological Survey. In 2010, with a population of 37.3 million, that state drew 31.1 billion gallons per day.
How did that happen? Chiefly through a sharp reduction in urban per capital water use, which has been falling steadily since the mid-1990s, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, and especially in the populous coastal zone.
CAPS' anti-immigration claims, which were recently echoed by the National Review, are reminiscent of other conservative media outlets that have used the California drought as an opportunity to baselessly attack environmental policies.
A segment on the arrest of a pregnant California woman on CNN's New Day demonstrated a stark contrast with Fox News about how to discuss police brutality.
California resident Michelle Cooks was arrested for resisting arrest in an elementary school parking lot on January 26. At the time, Cooks was eight months pregnant. The incident was captured on the police officer's body camera after the police had been called by a school employee, who was white, because of an argument with Cooks about her driving in the parking lot. The video shows the officer telling the woman that he did not "see any crime" having been committed, but that he would ask Cooks for her name and her side of the story. According to the Huffington Post:
The officer then asked Cooks for her name and she refused to give it to him.
"I actually do have the right to ask you for your name," the officer said.
"Let me make sure," Cooks said, as she proceeded to take out her phone to call her boyfriend.
The officer agreed to give Cooks two minutes to verify what he told her, but apparently changed his mind, as he only waited about 20 seconds. He and a fellow officer then wrestled Cooks to the ground.
"Please," Cooks screamed on the video. "I'm pregnant. Please, stop this."
Cooks was then handcuffed and placed into the back of a police cruiser.
During a segment on the May 29 edition of CNN's New Day, host Chris Cuomo discussed the arrest with former NYPD detective Harry Houck who defended the officers' actions, saying Cooks should have submitted. Cuomo pointed out that California law doesn't require individuals to give their name to police, unless an officer suspects a crime was committed -- which the video shows was not the case. Cuomo challenged Houck, saying "you are putting it on her when he is the one who did the wrong thing." Watch:
Cuomo's discussion provides a stark contrast to the way Fox News personalities discuss police brutality and citizen's rights. When discussing the death of unarmed Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, Sean Hannity said that a "simple solution" to avoid death by police was to not "run at 8:30 in the morning when you see a cop." After the death of Eric Garner, who was killed by a police chokehold for selling cigarettes on the street, Fox invited former NYPD officer Bo Dietl who said he used the same chokeholds during arrests he made in New York City.
Fox News gave likely 2016 presidential hopeful and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) a platform to double down on his assertion that ultrasounds -- mandatory in his state for women seeking abortions -- are just a "cool" thing.
This week Walker defended his state's legislation forcing women seeking abortions to first undergo ultrasounds that are likely to be transvaginal, dismissing the procedure as "just a cool thing out there" during an appearance on The Dana Show with Dana Loesch.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto defended Walker with the same excuse during a May 28 interview on Fox Business' Cavuto, asserting that "I knew what you meant by that, but obviously that was not the reception" the statement received. Walker replied that backlash was simply a "typical example" of how progressives and the media "take out of context comments out there" -- but then the governor immediately doubled down on his original comments. Walker reiterated that "I think ultrasounds are cool" (emphasis added):
WALKER: This is a typical example of the left -- not just leftist organizations, but some even in the left in the media -- take out of context comments out there. You're right, I talked about, my kids are 19 and 20, Tonette and I have the first ultrasound picture that was taken of both. And that's something that we treasure. That was each of our children. In fact, Matthew had the side of his head turned so you could see his hand and his mouth, what appeared to be sucking on his thumb.
CAVUTO: That's so cool. Mine had an iPhone. It was the weirdest thing. But seriously, they said 'stay out governor, this is none of your business.
WALKER: Well they're pushing back on it, saying I said it was cool. Well, I think ultrasounds are cool. And they tried to mischaracterize our law, says, simply put, if someone is going to go in for abortion, we require the provider, whoever is doing that procedure, has to provide access to an ultrasound, a traditional ultrasound, not the kind they planned out there, because we believe as someone who's pro-life, I believe that if someone has access to seeing that information, if they can look at it, not forced to, but if they can look at it if they so choose, if that's available, chances are they're going to pick life. They'll pick the life of that unborn child. I think that's a great thing. And if they don't, under the law, they don't have to. But the reality is, I think those on the left are afraid of people actually having information. They say they're pro-choice, but they don't want an informed choice.
Fox News continued its crusade against the Reagan-era affordable telephone service program for low-income Americans, which the network derisively refers to as "Obamaphones," with a misleading segment suggesting that the program has "runaway costs" and traps low-income Americans in poverty.
On May 28, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal to amend and modernize the Lifeline program, which currently provides landline and cellular phone subsidies to qualifying low-income Americans. Wheeler's proposal would expand the user-funded program to include broadband internet services, which he called "essential communications services in the 21st Century."
On the May 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson and Fox Business host Charles Payne attacked the broadband proposal and claimed that the Lifeline telephone service system was "radically expanded" during the Obama administration leading to so-called "runaway costs" and fraud.
Payne, who tweeted prior to his appearance that the Lifeline program was tantamount to "further enslavement of the 'poor'," complained on-air that the subsidy was "yet another program that's going to make it really hard for people to get off the sofa" through "the transfer of wealth from the middle class to people of a little bit lower class." Finally, Payne insisted that the expansion of broadband access to low-income Americans delivers the message to "the people who are on the lower levels of the economic rung, we are actually saying to them 'you can't make it but we'll feather the nest a little bit more'":
PAYNE: I think the moral aspect of this is when we're trying to get people into society, you know, out of wherever they live and into the sort of economic spirit, the economic ladder if you will, it's tough. You take a pay cut.
PAYNE: You have all of these benefits and if you add them all up. All of them are at 150 percent above poverty, 130 percent above poverty. Obamacare subsidies, 400 percent above poverty! That keeps a lot of people insulated. So here's the thing. Are you really helping someone by making it more difficult for them to go into the workforce? Are you incentivizing them or disincentivizing them? It's pretty clear what's happening here.
On May 26, Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted his first major campaign rally since announcing his presidential candidacy last month. Staged on the banks of Lake Champlain in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont, the Sanders rally reportedly drew more than five thousand people, making it one of the largest campaign events of 2015, hosted by either a Democrat or a Republican.
But the sprawling rally didn't cause much of a media stir. Rather than cover it as a major news event, the Washington Post ignored the rally in its print edition the next day, as did the New York Times, according to a search of the Nexis database. The network news programs that night covered the event in just a few sentences.
At a time when it seems any movement on the Republican side of the candidate field produces instant and extensive press coverage, more and more observers are suggesting there's something out of whack with Sanders' press treatment.
And they're right.
As the Vermont liberal spreads his income equality campaign message, the press corps seems unsure of how to cover him. In the month since he announced his bid, Sanders' coverage seems to pale in comparison to comparable Republican candidates who face an arduous task of obtaining their party's nomination. The reluctance is ironic, since the D.C. press corps for months brayed loudly about how Hillary Clinton must face a primary challenger. Now she has one and the press can barely feign interest?
As for the media attention Sanders does receive, a lot of it attempts to place him and his liberal policies outside the mainstream of American politics. Yes, he's a proud socialist, but note that most of the GOP's White House hopefuls are adamant climate deniers. No matter, the Beltway press doesn't portray them as political outliers.
Fox & Friends cried reverse racism when St. Louis University relocated what students and faculty considered a racially and culturally insensitive statue of Native Americans kneeling in front of a white missionary.
Following student and faculty complaints, St. Louis University relocated a statue depicting Native Americans being converted by Belgian missionary Fr. Pierre DeSmet, S.J. According to St. Louis Magazine, university officials pointed to concerns of cultural insensitivity and "white supremacy" in explaining the decision to move the statue inside the university's art museum:
Clayton Berry, SLU's assistant vice president for communications, tells SLM that the statue was moved to the university's art museum after staff voiced concerns.
"In more recent years, there have been some faculty and staff who have raised questions about whether the sculpture is culturally sensitive," Berry says. "Hearing that feedback, the decision was made to place the piece within the historical context of a collection that's on permanent display in our SLU Museum of Art."
University staff weren't alone in finding the statue of two Indian men submitting to a white man troubling. Two years before its removal, the student newspaper called it "the most controversial and misunderstood of all the artwork on the Saint Louis University campus." During Occupy SLU, the six-day student protest against racial inequality sparked by the Ferguson protests, Twitter user @EmmaculateJones shared photos of the statue, calling it a visual representation of "white supremacy on SLU campus."
However, Fox contributor Tucker Carlson called the relocation an "act of racism" on the May 29 edition of Fox & Friends, insisting to co-hosts that the statue's detractors were likely "wholly ignorant" of DeSmet's good works:
KILMEADE: It's a statue of Father Pierre Jean DeSmet ... And right there he is blessing American Indians back in his day. You know why? He was a Belgian Catholic priest who was able to convert countless members of American [[-]] Indians back in that day, and the American Indian community embraced him and his legacy. And among his good friends was actually Sitting Bull.
CARLSON: Despite those facts, of which I think the student body is likely wholly ignorant, the statue has beenremoved and shuttled off to a museum where it will be shown with the appropriate cultural context. Why? Because he was a white supremacist? No. Because he was white. His skin color is itself considered so offensive by the school that this statue can no longer be on display.
KILMEADE: Did anyone even Google this?
HASSELBECK: I mean, just do your homework! He was a friend to that community, reached out, and because of him a major treaty was signed. And after he died, only then did things get even more violent. He was the peacekeeper between the two groups.
Although there have been several major campaign finance stories this year, so far the media has paid significant attention only to one: the retired postal worker from Florida who landed his gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn to raise awareness about the need for reform -- and the coverage has barely noted his motivations.
On April 15, Doug Hughes landed his gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn "to save our democracy," as he wrote in The Washington Post, because "91 percent of Americans see the corrosive influence of money in our political system as a problem that demands attention." Hughes continued:
It is clear these issues will be among the most important in the 2016 election, when every candidate for any office needs to answer one simple question: Which approaches to reducing money's corrupting influence on our democracy do you support? Journalists, especially at the local level, need to ask tough questions, then report the truth and let people decide.
Sadly, most Americans don't know about [campaign finance reform] solutions or how to engage. That's why I chose civil disobedience, taking 535 stamped letters and my message to the seat of power where the problem is. Big money is a threat to our democracy just as security threats are.
Hughes is right -- according to Bloomberg, "spending by candidates, parties and outside groups and individuals" in the run-up to the 2016 election "may approach $10 billion." Thanks to a series of Supreme Court decisions that have relaxed Watergate-era campaign finance reform laws, it's easier than ever for an elite few to exercise disproportionate influence in the democratic process.
Hughes' landing was marginally successful in getting some media coverage of campaign finance reform in the days following. A Media Matters analysis of the network evening news broadcasts and the Sunday political talk shows found 17 total segments dedicated to Hughes and the gyrocopter landing. But other than a discussion on the April 19 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, none of the Sunday shows or evening news broadcasts dedicated any substantive coverage to the message behind Hughes' protest. Understandably, most of these segments focused on the security issues raised by the fact that Hughes was able to fly undetected into the District of Columbia's no-fly zone, rather than his reasons for his flight in the first place.
Commenting on her refusal to hug an undocumented immigrant during a recent interview, Ann Coulter doubled down, adding that she would "not admit overweight" immigrants into the country if she was "in charge of immigration."
During a May 26 interview between Coulter and Jorge Ramos on Fusion's America with Jorge Ramos, undocumented immigrant and activist Gaby Pacheco asked Coulter if she could have a hug. When Coulter refused, claiming she was recovering from the flu, Pacheco persisted, saying the hug would be "a sign of my humanity and yours."
In a May 28th post on Breitbart, Matt Boyle detailed what he deemed to be "missing" context from coverage of the event. Buried at the end of the piece was a comment from Coulter weighing in on her snub of Pacheco, elaborating on how she wouldn't "admit people like Pacheco to the United States" if she were in charge of immigration. Coulter explained that "When I'm in charge of immigration (after our 10 year moratorium), I will not admit overweight girls."
Boyle concurred with Coulter, adding: "She's got a point: Shouldn't the United States be picking the most desirable immigrants to bring into the United States, truly the best and brightest?"
Coulter's latest insult came after a week of despicable commentary from the conservative pundit. In the same interview with Ramos, Coulter said Americans should fear immigrants more than ISIS, lamenting that "If you don't want to be killed by ISIS, don't go to Syria. If you don't want to be killed by a Mexican, there's nothing I can tell you." In an interview with Sean Hannity on May 27, Coulter also claimed that the US is "bringing in people from backward, primitive cultures."
Fox News host Bill Hemmer falsely claimed there were no major hurricanes in 2014, during a segment criticizing action on climate change. But just one day earlier, Fox News correctly reported that two major hurricanes formed last year.
Hemmer introduced a segment on the May 28 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom by noting that President Obama was about to "get an update on the upcoming hurricane season" from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Hurricane Center. Hemmer then declared: "Three major storms predicted this year. They predicted a lot last year. We got zero."
But on May 27, Fox News' Phil Keating noted that NOAA's 2014 forecast was actually "spot on the money." The agency predicted that one or two major hurricanes would form in 2014, and they were right: Hurricanes Edouard and Gonzalo were both classified as "major hurricanes." During the segment, Fox News even provided this helpful graphic:
Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter grossly misrepresented Pew data, falsely suggesting that 25 percent of Mexico's population has been "taken in" by the United States, creating a false narrative that is spreading through right-wing media.
During a May 26 interview with Fusion's Jorge Ramos, Coulter alleged that the United States has "taken in one quarter of the entire Mexican population."
Coulter doubled-down on her claim while appearing on the May 28 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, citing the Pew Research Center to assert "yeah we already have a quarter, a quarter of the entire Mexican population."
Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh parroted Coulter's assertion the same day, claiming "25 percent of the total population of Mexico has already immigrated, not all legal obviously, to the United States." Rush went on to say "you can trace the demise of California to this."
The Pew data Coulter referenced actually includes both "native born" and "foreign born" Hispanics of Mexican origin. Pew's summary of the data explained that "this estimate includes 11.4 million immigrants born in Mexico and 22.3 million born in the U.S. who self-identified as Hispanics of Mexican origin."
That means 65 percent of the people Coulter claimed that the United States has "taken in," were born in this country.
Using Coulter's flawed logic, if we were to analyze the number of people of Irish descent in the United States, the country has taken in 737 percent of the population of Ireland.