Leading Latino leaders are criticizing the Fox News website Fox News Latino, saying it lacks credibility among Hispanics by profiting from them even as they are demonized by the conservative parent network known for anti-immigrant coverage.
Since it launched in 2010, Fox News Latino has positioned itself as "the place to go for news that impacts the Latino Community," covering news, politics, entertainment, and other stories through that lens.
"We were skeptical when we heard about this," Inez Gonzalez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said of the creation of Fox News Latino. "Fox News is a big voice in the anti-Latino rhetoric, so we were skeptical. Some of the articles that I have seen have been interesting to me, [but] I think the owners are hypocrites. I think they are totally forgetting there is double speak here.
"They should be called on for their hypocrisy because they are blasting Latinos in English media and courting us in Latino media, hoping no one who is reading it is bilingual. I don't use Fox News Latino as a source. I would not use Fox News as a source because I know their history. I would question their statistics because I know where they are coming from. They're still Fox."
Indeed, the tone of Fox News Latino's coverage of issues like immigration dramatically differs from that of other parts of the Fox News family, which typically adopt a hardline slant.
Last month after President Obama announced that his administration would no longer seek to deport young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children, Fox News Latino covered the story using the headline "Obama Administration Halts Deportations for Undocumented Children" and featuring a photo of a Latina activist in front of the U.S. Capitol.
By contrast, the Fox Nation website headlined its story on the subject "Obama Administration Bypasses Congress, to Give Immunity, Stop Deporting Younger Illegals" accompanied by a photo of handcuffed young Latinos.
Such disparities in coverage between the Latino-focused website and the rest of the right-wing network are frequent, with other instances including a January 2011 border shooting and last month's Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration law.
Fox News hosts and personalities regularly demonize immigrants, refusing to abandon the slur "illegals" though other outlets have done so. The network also cheerleads controversial immigration laws like those in Arizona and Alabama, and outlandish smears of immigrants.
"Their record will ultimately catch up with them, you can't be a media company and think you are hiding your message," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. "Latinos aren't dumb. They understand who is on their side and who is not."
Following the Supreme Court ruling striking down most of Arizona's controversial immigration bill, Fox News gave a platform to the heads of two anti-immigrant groups to comment on the decision.
On June 25, Fox News Latino's politics section published a piece by Dan Stein in which the frequent Fox guest and president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) declared the ruling a "victory" for Arizona and criticized the Obama administration's use of prosecutorial discretion to postpone deportation proceedings of certain undocumented workers in order to prioritize the removal of others.
On the same day, FoxNews.com published an opinion piece by Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA. Beck heralded the ruling as an opportunity for other states to "follow Arizona's lead" in enforcing immigration laws "in the way that Congress intended, even if the president insists on violating those laws."
Fox's decision to give Stein and Beck a platform to comment on the Arizona immigration ruling comes in spite of the fact that both of their groups are virulently anti-immigrant.
Indeed, FAIR is an anti-immigrant organization considered a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Not only does it have a history of using extreme, violent, and offensive language aimed at undocumented immigrants, but it has extremist ties as well.
Beck's NumbersUSA is an anti-immigration group with white nationalist ties. It also has ties to the anti-immigration network of John Tanton, "the anti-immigration crusader" who "spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement."
The SPLC has referred to Beck as Tanton's "heir apparent." Beck has also been an editor of Tanton's journal, The Social Contract, which, according to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR), "has repeatedly served as a platform for white nationalists."
Today's announcement that the Obama administration "will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives" (per the Associated Press) offers an excellent glimpse at how that tension plays out.
Republishing the AP write-up, Fox News Latino used the staid headline "Obama Administration Halts Deportations for Undocumented Children," and attached a photo of a DREAM Act activist in front of the Capitol:
Fox Nation also republished an AP write-up, but their headline and photo selection* spoke to a different tone and audience:
*UPDATE: Fox Nation has since removed the photo from the article, though the photo still appears on their main page.
From the June 4 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
Loading the player reg...
I've written before about the differences in tone between Fox News and their latest online venture, Fox News Latino. On the one hand, Fox News Latino is designed to expand Fox's audience to incorporate the rapidly growing Hispanic demographic. On the other hand, Fox News has long had an editorial stance towards Hispanics that could best be described as "hostile."
That dichotomy is on display again with news that the family of a Mexican teenager who was shot and killed by a border patrol agent in El Paso has filed a $25 million wrongful death suit.
First the facts behind the story. On June 7, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, 15, was shot in the head by a border patrol agent as several people were being arrested for illegally crossing the border. The FBI claims that Hernandez was among a group of people throwing rocks at the border agents, and that rock throwing has long been a justification for using lethal force. The family's attorney says that witnesses deny any rock throwing and claim that a video of the incident backs up their statements.
At Fox News Latino, the news of the lawsuit was handled in a straightforward manner, with a brief report on the filing of the suit and some background for the story with an accompanying stock photo of the U.S./Mexico border.
On Fox News, the story was treated differently.
Yesterday on Fox News' Happening Now, anchor Jon Scott conducted an interview with the slain teenager's family's attorney. In introducing the combative segment, Scott referred to undocumented immigrants simply as "illegals" -- a dehumanizing shorthand frequently encountered on the network -- and aired several grainy video clips of rocks being thrown at the U.S./Mexico border. Remember, the family attorney denies the claim that the boy threw rocks and that the video of the shooting corroborates this. But Fox News aired other video clips of other people throwing rocks at the border.
Watch the video of the segment below:
Now, this obviously isn't the most flagrant example of Fox News' anti-immigrant rhetoric, but it's also important to keep in mind that this is program is part of Fox News' "hard news" lineup. And it serves as yet another example of Fox News' cynical attempt to court Latinos while simultaneously maintaining an antagonistic posture towards Hispanic interests.
Actress Penelope Cruz recently gave an interview to a Spanish television program in which she said that she and actor Javier Bardem plan to have their first child in Los Angeles so that the child will have dual nationality (Cruz is a Spanish citizen). Fox News Latino reported the news under the headline: "Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are Having an Anchor Baby."
Fox News has a history of using the term "anchor baby" when reporting on issues of immigration. The term was described by the Rocky Mountain News as "derogatory, even racist, because it implies that Hispanics are having children as a way to stay in the U.S."
Screenshot of the Fox News Latino article below:
Dr. Manny Alvarez is Fox News' senior medical contributor. He comes on TV to talk about the latest health scare or the new fad diet or whatever overhyped medical story is helping to fill the 24-hour cable news maw. But Dr. Alvarez apparently wants to expand his bailiwick beyond matters of medical science and try his hand at political punditry. And, given that he works at Fox News, you can already guess where this is going.
In a December 7 column for Fox News Latino, Alvarez channels Glenn Beck in accusing Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) of mimicking "leftist dictators in Latin America," and calling him one of the "so-called progressive politicians here in America [who] do not represent the Constitution." What was Gutierrez's crime? In Alvarez's words: "Encouraging Latinos to participate in protests, marches and sit-ins, reminiscent of the civil-rights movement by African-Americans in the 1960s."
Alvarez was referring to a December 1 Daily Beast article that reported on Gutierrez's frustrations with Obama's slow movement on immigration legislation:
The DREAM Act, Gutiérrez says, is for now his final legislative maneuver. He's finished waiting for the mythical 60th vote to materialize in the Senate. No, when the lame duck ends, Gutiérrez and his movement allies will ask for a divorce -- from the Democratic Party, from the entire lawmaking process. To hear Gutiérrez tell it, Hispanic leaders are about to stage a full-tilt campaign of direct action, like the African-American civil-rights movement of the 1960s. There will be protests, marches, sit-ins -- what César Chávez might have called going rogue. The movement will operate autonomously, no longer beholden to wavering Democrats, filibustering Republicans, and -- perhaps most tantalizingly -- no longer beholden to Barack Obama.
According to Alvarez, calling for Latinos to peacefully protest in the vein of the '60s civil rights movement means Gutierrez is no different from Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez:
In the 1960s, Fidel Castro took that playbook to the streets of Havana, convincing people that they should rally in order to bring effective change. By employing a strategy of empty promises and radical ideals, Castro used the Cuban people to create an isolated, socialized, communist land where millions of people have been imprisoned -- many executed - and massive exodus of Cubans to foreign lands remains a theme in this country that hasn't done anything for its peoples' growth and prosperity in over 50 years.
Now, I know many of you are thinking that I'm always referring back to the Cuban Revolution, but history speaks for itself when you look at other Latin American countries that have used the same tactics to move toward socialism. Just ask any Venezuelan who has left their country in the last year.
Venezuela once was a stable democracy with great resources. Yes, it had problems -- what country doesn't? But there was a basic, underlying democratic process running the country.
Now, with President Hugo Chávez and his socialistic agenda becoming progressively more radical during his 11 years in power, the people of Venezuela don't have legitimate forums for democratic dialogue and the system to institute much-needed change.
Last week I wrote about how Fox News Latino doesn't quite mesh with the network's broader stance toward Latinos, which is rooted in demonizing undocumented immigrants. Alvarez's op-ed, though, reminds us that Fox News Latino is, in the end, still Fox News.