The Right Wing

Why Is ABC Paying Laura Ingraham Lots of Money to Be a Racist?

In apparent effort to counter non-existent "liberal media bias," here's what ABC News will get from Laura Ingraham.

It was once an article of faith among many Americans, including many members of the press, that the news media was a hotbed of left wing propaganda, so filled with liberal bias that one had to use a decoder ring to get the truth. There may have been a grain of truth in it during the early days of Camelot and perhaps in the immediate aftermath of Watergate, but for the most part the media has always shown a bias toward the establishment, regardless of which party or ideology is dominant at a particular time.

However, the modern conservative movement, believing as it does in the All American capitalist maxim “there’s a sucker born every minute” used this perceived bias as a political tactic, what wags called “working the refs,” wherein they would accuse the press of being liberal so often that reporters would second-guess themselves and bend over backwards to accommodate a more conservative viewpoint. Despite the rise of FOX News and hundreds of right wing talk show hosts dominating much of the airwaves, they are still able to convince mainstream news organizations that they are biased  and lacking in authentic conservative voices. Recall a few years back when even the New York Times ostentatiously declared that it planned to devote significant resources to covering “the conservative beat” (which might have been just a bit more understandable if it hadn’t come immediately in the wake of its credulous reporting on the Bush administration’s push for war with Iraq.)

Nobody has been more of a vociferous critic of the news media’s alleged liberal bias than talk radio host and conservative commentator Laura Ingraham. Going all the way back to her years as a notorious campus activist making her name as a vicious homophobe (since partially recanted,) she has been hitting the mainstream media for its so-called liberal bias. This “Reliable Sources” exchange with E.J. Dionne from early 2003 is an amusing example of how the best of them get the job done:

KURTZ: Let’s turn now to media bias. E.J. Dionne, you wrote a column recently saying there is no longer any such thing as the big, liberal media. Is this a fantasy we’ve been talking about for some years now? … You’re saying that the “New York Times” and the “L.A. Times” and “The Washington Post” and the networks and magazines have been intimidated and they’re cowering and they can’t do their jobs anymore?

INGRAHAM: I must have missed that.

DIONNE: That’s not what I said…

INGRAHAM: When they cover a Bush press conference, how is it covered? Is it covered in a fair and balanced way…

DIONNE: Bush has gotten an extraordinarily good press. I challenge you to compare…

INGRAHAM: He’s been an extraordinarily good president, much to the media’s chagrin.

You see, when a Republican president gets bad coverage it’s because the press has a liberal bias. When he gets good coverage it’s because he’s so good.

Ingraham must be feeling some sort of vindication today.  ABC News has announced that she is their newest contributor. And she’ll be allowed to keep her job at Fox News subbing for Bill O’Reilly and also her daily radio show. Perhaps conservatives can finally relax a little bit about being so marginalized. It would appear we won’t be able to escape them.

One hopes that Ingraham will get along better with ABC than she did with FOX in the early days when Harry Shearer’s My Damn Channel posted behind the scenes footage of her frustration with the staff of her soon to be cancelled show, (especially a mysterious “Hispanic man” who kept spontaneously appearing in her teleprompter.) It occasioned James Walcott to comment: 

Ingraham sounds like a U-Boat commander just before everything goes pitch-black and desperate cries compete with the ominous clanging of pipes. The point is, it’s not her fault the ship’s about to spend eternity as a steel turd on the ocean floor.

ABC undoubtedly hopes such a fate does not await any shows on which she will appear in the future.  And anyway, it was a few years ago. Surely she’s mellowed by now, right? Well, I suppose it depends on what the meaning of “vile anti-immigrant zealot” is. She may have softened her stance on gays, but she has transferred all of that hatred on to undocumented workers.

Here are a few of her most disgraceful immigration comments from just the last year:

November 21, 2013

Ingraham Repeatedly Mocked An Immigration Protestor For Speaking English With An Accent. In November 2013, Ingraham repeatedly mocked a woman who was protesting the Obama administration’s record number of deportations, saying, “Wait, what did she say at the end? I can’t — I need a translator. I speak Spanish too. I’d rather have her just speak Spanish, at least I’d understand that.” She then went on to affect the woman’s accent, stating, “No want more amnesty. No want more lies. No want more phony promises. No want more people coming into the country, filling up our schools and our emergency rooms, having anchor babies and then blaming us for it. No want more that.“

January 28,2014:

The Associated Press reported that if Snyder’s plan is approved, “Detroit would be allocated 5,000 visas in the first year, 10,000 each of the next three years and 15,000 in the fifth year.” Immigrants would be allowed to live and work in the city for five years, but could apply for a green card after that time.

On her Tuesday radio show, Ingraham said the idea was “the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of. The people of this country, they’re smart enough to know that they don’t want to go anywhere near Detroit. Right?” she explained. “But we need to get these people from other countries to live and work in Detroit to save us because we can then wall off Detroit, apparently, so they can’t then move to other parts of the country.”

“Is that what Rick Snyder is gonna do?” Ingraham asked. “Is there gonna be, you know, is there gonna be finally a border enforced in our country? Except it’s going to be around Detroit.”

May 10, 2013

Ingraham used a May 2013 hearing on immigration reform to claim that immigration from Mexico would create a “hellhole” and a “mini-Mexico,” saying, “I think a lot of you look around at this culture of ours, and some of it is our own fault, but we see America disappearing. I’m not even talking about demographics, I’m talking about our culture.”

A few days before that:

Ingraham’s attacks against pro-immigration reform Republican politicians were accompanied by numerous smears against immigrants and Latinos, including referring to the American children of undocumented immigrants as “anchor fetuses” during a discussion about Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “embrace of the path to citizenship” in May 2013.

As you can imagine, Ingraham isn’t one of those squishy conservatives who thinks that calling illegal immigration “an act of love” will bring some Latinos over to their side. She doesn’t want them:

“If the reaction to the election is let’s dig into our core principles and try to remake them, I think the GOP will lose even more seats in 2014,” Ingraham told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “If it becomes a bidding war with Republicans in either this group or that group — whether it’s Latinos or women — we’re going to give you more stuff or we’re going to do amnesty plus… it’s not going to work.”

“The Republicans have to take a lesson from — and I hate to bring up Reagan again — when Goldwater got shellacked in ’64, Bill Buckley and Brent Bozell Sr. and all these conservatives got together and they said, we’re going to figure out how to sell this idea of economic conservatism and the conservative framework to new voters. And they went into the South and they transformed Mississippi and Alabama, all these places where people had never voted Republican before.”

Apparently, ABC News doesn’t care to have Latinos as part of their audience. If they did, they wouldn’t hire someone with the kind of noxious anti-immigrant views that one would never expect to see outside the hardcore right wing media. And I certainly hope they don’t expect this hire to allay the complaints that they have a liberal bias. Way too many people make a very good profit from such absurd claims, including Laura Ingraham. It’s quite a coup that she’s conned them into paying her for the privilege.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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