During a radio interview with Rep. Steve King -- the Republican congressman from Iowa whose comments likening undocumented immigrants to drug smugglers continue to draw fire -- Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said she understood what he was saying but that he "could've worded it differently." She added: "I think you have to be smarter in the way you use your language."
Ingraham went on to accuse media outlets of refusing to cover crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and cited a number of such cases to suggest a link between violent crime and immigrants in the country illegally.
Following the interview, she addressed calls for him to apologize and asked: "Is he right in refusing to back down on this and give in to the PC pressure from the left and right? Is Steve King right on this or not -- to apologize?"
In fact, as The Wall Street Journal reported, King's suggestion that most undocumented immigrants are drug smugglers "is not politically incorrect. It's simply incorrect."
In a July 18 interview with Newsmax, King attacked undocumented youths known as DREAMers -- those who were brought into the country illegally and are younger than 35 -- claiming that for every one who's a valedictorian, there are another 100 who "weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
While the comments have received widespread condemnation from congressional Republicans, some in the conservative media have defended King, saying that "the facts back King up," in the words of Breitbart.com's Matthew Boyle.
But as the Journal noted, the facts do not back King up:
Conservative media figures are coming to the defense of Republican Congressman Steve King following widespread condemnation of his comments accusing undocumented immigrants of being drug smugglers.
During an interview with conservative outlet Newsmax, King attacked the undocumented youths known as DREAMers -- those who would have qualified under the DREAM Act proposal that repeatedly failed in Congress and who could meet the Senate immigration bill's DREAM Act provision -- saying that while he has sympathy for children who were brought into this country illegally by their parents, not all of them are valedictorians:
KING: And there are kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing that they were breaking the law. And they will say to me and others who would defend the rule of law: We have to do something about the 11 million. And some of them are valedictorians.
Well, my answer to that is - and then by the way their parents brought them here. And it wasn't their fault. It's true in some cases. But they're aren't all valedictorians. They weren't all brought in by their parents.
For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that -- they weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.
Republican Party leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sen. Raul Labrador (R-ID), have condemned King's comments as"wrong," "hateful," and "inexcusable." Boehner stated: "What he said is wrong. There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that."
However, right-wing media figures have rallied to King's defense. On her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham cited cases of undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes and brought up instances of gang activity in border states to argue in support of King's comments.
She later stated: "So who's right? Steve King." She then criticized media outlets for supposedly "vilifying" King, adding, "How about actually do some real reporting on how this stuff is affecting young people and spreading across this country?"
Conservative media figures have criticized President Obama's focus on immigration reform, saying that the top priority should be the economy and jobs. In fact, immigration reform is an economic issue: studies show that it would boost economic output and lower unemployment.
From the July 12 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the July 10 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Right-wing media have invented several conspiracy theories to attack the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill, including claiming that the legislation provides free cars and cell phones for undocumented immigrants, and that it is a secret plot to create a permanent one-party system reminiscent of Marxist Russian premier Vladimir Lenin.
Radio host Laura Ingraham launched a series of vicious attacks on Texas State Senator Wendy Davis for her filibuster fight against the state's anti-choice bill, by asking Davis which children she "sees on the playground shouldn't be there" and bringing up Davis' personal history to try to discredit her.
In a June 27 tweet, Ingraham mocked characterizations of Davis as a hero after her successful filibuster of Texas' Senate Bill 5 (SB5), one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws. In response to Davis' efforts, Ingraham tweeted a "question" to Davis: "Which kids that you see on the playground shouldn't be there?":
Ingraham pushed her attack further during the June 27 edition of her radio show. She seized on Davis' personal history as a teenage mother, who later became successful, to claim Davis is "the kind of person who should actually be advocating for life":
The attack mirrored one made by Texas Governor and former Republican presidential contender Rick Perry, who, according to Think Progress, used his speech at the Right To Life convention to claim Davis "hasn't learned from her own example":
According to Texas Observer staff writer Forrest Wilder, Davis responded to Perry's attack by saying "Rick Perry's statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds":
From the June 27 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show:
INGRAHAM: The amazing thing about Wendy Davis is that she became a mom while she was still in her teens and she lived in a trailer park for a time. She ended up graduating with honors from Harvard Law. Her life story actually indicates why you shouldn't give your children up. You should consider adoption, or figure out a way with family members to raise the child yourself, or take the adoption alternative. She went on to go to Harvard Law. Right, So why -- when you think about it, Wendy Davis should actually be the type of person who is advocating for life after her life story.
I mean -- you know what I would like to ask the Planned Parenthood folks, just look around you. Which of the children on the playground shouldn't be here right now? Point the children out who shouldn't be here. You're listening to your healthy radio addiction, the Laura Ingraham Show.
From the June 26 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham has said that she will look into challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) because of his support for comprehensive immigration reform, furthering her campaign of demanding that Republicans oppose the Senate immigration bill.
During her June 25 radio show, Ingraham cited Graham's policies on Syria and immigration reform to tell residents of South Carolina:
INGRAHAM: I don't care who you find -- oh, I do care who you find. We need a smart, savvy, Reagan conservative to run against Lindsey Graham in the 2014 election. He needs to be defeated, primaried, and we need to win that seat with a Reagan conservative who will not do this kind of nonsense. He needs to be punished, the liberal Republicans need to be punished, and they need to be thrown out of office at the first opportunity. I'll say that until I'm blue in the face.
Following a commercial break, Ingraham said she'd look into running against Graham herself, telling her audience "people think I'm joking, I'm actually not joking."
Ingraham's statements follow a history of threatening to challenge Republican senators and representatives if they support the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill. On May 22, Ingraham said that she is "thinking of moving to Arizona," saying she "will primary challenge Senator Jeff Flake myself if that's what this requires." And on June 7, she said that if comprehensive immigration reform passes in the House of Representatives, "I am going to make it my personal mission to support primaries for every Republican who supports it."
She has also repeatedly criticized Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who is part of the so-called Gang of 8 that crafted the Senate's immigration bill. On April 17, she said the bill will be "the end of Marco Rubio's political career," and on May 15 she told Rubio to "walk away" from the immigration bill "before it's too late." Most recently on June 21, Ingraham finally declared that Rubio's presidential chances are "over" because of his support for immigration reform.
Ingraham's campaign against immigration reform doesn't just rest on threatening to unseat Republicans, however. She has also repeatedly smeared Latinos and read ads for the anti-immigration hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform on her radio show.
From the June 24 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the June 21 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Right-wing media outlets cherry-picked data from a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Senate's immigration reform proposal to incorrectly claim that the bill would hurt American workers. In fact, the CBO report found that the Senate immigration reform bill would have temporary and small negative effects but over the long term would greatly benefit both American workers and the economy, which is reinforced by past studies.
Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham endorsed the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) on her radio show, following months of her campaign to kill the bipartisan effort for comprehensive immigration reform.
During a commercial break between segments on The Laura Ingraham Show on June 20, a recording played of Ingraham endorsing FAIR, claiming that immigration reform was "a declaration of war on American workers and taxpayers" and that FAIR fought "for true reform that puts the future of America first":
INGRAHAM: I want you to know there's an organization fighting to restore integrity to our immigration system and to make sure that your voice is heard. I'm talking about the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR. FAIR works for strong border security and enforcement to stop illegal immigration, and FAIR leads the fight to make sure that we don't just keep importing more and more foreign labor to replace American workers, who want and need jobs. Right now, special interests are giving us phony promises of enforcement, while they're working hard to make sure millions get amnesty. They don't care about the rule of law or the American worker, that's not their priority. Listen, amnesty is not immigration reform. It's a declaration of war on American workers and taxpayers. But you can help FAIR fight for true reform that puts the future of America first. Go to FAIRus.org. Let's retake control of the immigration debate. Get involved and make a difference at FAIRus.org.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated FAIR as an anti-immigrant hate group, writing "FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content." FAIR has promoted people who made violent threats against immigrants, has known ties to the nativist leader John Tanton, and has received money from white supremacist groups. The group's founder and president Dan Stein also published an error-ridden piece for Politico in April urging Republicans to "walk away" from a deal on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Ingraham's on-air endorsement of FAIR follows months of her campaigning against the bipartisan effort to reform immigration policy. In March, while guest-hosting for host Bill O'Reilly on his Fox News show, Ingraham let FAIR spokesman Bob Dane deny that the anti-immigrant organization is a hate group while demonizing the Southern Poverty Law Center. She has hosted a nativist group director on her radio show to push debunked immigration myths, argued that a "two-tiered" class system for undocumented immigrants "sits better" with her than comprehensive reform, claimed that immigration reform will "destroy American sovereignty," and has promoted smears against Latinos. Ingraham has also promised to campaign against congressional Republicans who support comprehensive immigration reform.
Right-wing media outlets cherry-picked data from a Congressional Budget Office report on the Senate's immigration reform proposal to claim that immigrants who would benefit under the bill will drive down the wages of U.S. workers. In fact, while CBO predicts a slight decrease in wages in the first decade, that decrease would be outweighed by the larger increase in wages in the following decade. CBO also noted that its estimates "do not necessarily imply that current U.S. residents would be worse off" in the first decade.
A post on Breitbart.com asserted that CBO found that "illegal immigrants who would receive amnesty, or legalized status, would see a spike in their income while Americans' incomes dropped." The post added that "it would be harder for Americans to find jobs if the bill passed." Similarly, on her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham aired comments by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) claiming the bill would depress U.S. wages, then stated that the bill "goes beyond all common sense":
In reality, the CBO report on the economic impact of the Senate immigration bill states that "average wages for the entire labor force would be 0.1 percent lower in 2023 and 0.5 percent higher in 2033 under the legislation than under current law." CBO continues:
The estimated reductions in average wages and per capita GNP for much of the next two decades do not necessarily imply that current U.S. residents would be worse off, on average, under the legislation than they would be under current law. Both of those figures represent differences between the averages for all U.S. residents under the legislation--including both the people who would be residents under current law and the additional people who would come to the country under the legislation--and the averages under current law for people who would be residents in the absence of the legislation.
As noted, the additional people who would become residents under the legislation would earn lower wages, on average, than other residents, which would pull down the average wage and per capita GNP; at the same time, the income earned by capital would increase. [emphasis added]
Fox News is reviving the pernicious smear that undocumented immigrants are criminals in order to attack the comprehensive immigration reform proposal being debated in the Senate. In fact, the legislation toughens provisions against those immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and bars them from gaining legal status; moreover, studies show that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans.