Former Fox News correspondent warns the network 'foments fear and anger' as analysis shows El Paso terrorist echoed the toxic rhetoric of right-wing media stars
There was a time when right-wing media, apart from Patrick Buchanan, were much more forgiving of undocumented immigrants and praised President Ronald Reagan for granting so many of them amnesty during the 1980s. But in recent years, right-wing media have found that fear-mongering over illegal immigration can be great for ratings or online traffic — and a report for the New York Times finds that the El Paso shooter used much of the same inflammatory language and rhetoric that right-wing media stars have been espousing.
According to Carl Cameron, former chief political correspondent for Fox News, the language of the extreme fringe is now common in right-wing media. Cameron told the Times that right-wing media are now “putting that into the zeitgeist…. Fox goes out and looks for stuff that is inherently on fire and foments fear and anger.”
Shortly before the terrorist mass shooting in El Paso that left 22 people dead, the killer (according to law enforcement) posted a 2300-word manifesto on 4Chan asserting that he was acting in order to fight an “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” And the Times report (written by Jeremy W. Peters, Michael M. Grynbaum, Keith Collins, Rich Harris and Rumsey Taylor and published on August 11) notes that right-wing media stars like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson have been using the same type of rhetoric.
The Replacement Theory is a far-right conspiracy theory often promoted by white nationalists, who argue that white Anglo Saxon Christians are being systematically “replaced” by non-Anglo immigrants in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. Proponents of the Replacement Theory tend to rail against Latinos in the U.S., whereas in Europe, they view whites as being “replaced” by immigrants from the Middle East or Africa.
The Times article cites numerous examples of the words “invasion” being used in right-wing media, noting that Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have been among the worst offenders at Fox News. Not surprisingly, Buchanan has used the word a lot as well and was doing so long before the others.
References to an immigrant “invasion,” according to the Times, have appeared on “more than 300 Fox News broadcasts.”
One right-wing media figure who finds the frequent use of the word “invasion” troubling is neocon Bill Kristol, formerly of the now-defunct Weekly Standard. Kristol, a major critic of President Donald Trump, asserted that what was once the language of the lunatic fringe has become everyday discourse in today’s right-wing media.
“It’s a bit of a vicious cycle,” Kristol told the Times. “Something is said on Fox News, and Trump repeats it, and that legitimizes it — and then, someone else goes a little further…. The use of what once would have been viewed as really extreme and inappropriate and sometimes conspiratorial, sometimes dehumanizing language is really striking.”
The Times reports that back in the 1990s, Buchanan’s “notion of immigrants as a national threat” was controversial on much of the right and “ran counter to the Republican Party’s efforts to make itself more appealing to Hispanics.” But these days, according to the Times, that type of rhetoric is the exception rather than the rule in right-wing media.