Right-wing media figures uncritically amplified a now-debunked New York Post story to demonize immigrants and attack Democratic lawmakers.
On May 13, the New York Post published a story alleging that a group of 20 homeless military veterans had been “evicted” from two upstate New York hotels to make room for immigrants who had settled in New York City. The Post claimed the supposed migrants were part of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ plans to secure temporary housing for immigrants entering the city.
After the Post published its story, the local outlet Mid Hudson News spoke with hotel management and service providers the Post claimed were involved in the removals. On May 18, the paper reported that not only had no homeless veterans been removed, but they were never there to begin with — one hotel manager “had never heard of” the veteran's group supposedly involved, while another said it “had not put any veterans in the hotel for ‘a long time.’”
The report also discredited a receipt presented by State Assemblyman Brian Maher as supposed evidence that the group representing the homeless veterans had paid for the rooms. The Post later reported that the group’s longtime advocate had lied to the newspaper about the entire situation, and on Friday the Mid Hudson News revealed that 15 homeless men were paid to pretend they were veterans who had been staying at the hotel.
\u201cFox News has added an editor's note to 3 online articles to "clarify allegations surrounding the treatment of homeless veterans," and reporter Nate Foy just delivered this update:\n\n"We are now looking into new reports that a veterans advocate misled lawmakers and media outlets"\u201d— Justin Baragona (@Justin Baragona) 1684522507
By the time the story fell apart, right-wing media had already latched onto the now-debunked narrative and immediately weaponized the shoddily reported story as part of their ongoing fear campaign over a so-called “invasion” of migrants coming across the southern border.
- Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said it was “astonishing that some of these hotels are getting migrants” and having to cancel other reservations, adding, “There are two couples that booked rooms for their wedding … and 20 vets also were in that hotel, they all had to move out because these migrants moved in.”
- Later on Fox & Friends, guest co-host Will Cain claimed that a “flood of illegal immigrants” are taking up hotel rooms and other resources in New York. Cain went on to remind viewers “about homeless veterans booted from a hotel so that rooms could be given to illegal immigrants,” with Earhardt adding that “Eric Adams says they’re gonna stay there for four months, so 20 veterans had to move to another hotel.”
- Fox anchor Harris Faulkner claimed the story showed “the disgraceful treatment of our military veterans played out in Orange County, New York,” as the nonexistent group of “at least 20 homeless veterans, some reportedly suffering from PTSD, had to give up their hotel rooms for illegals.” Fox contributor Johnny “Joey” Jones added a jab at the Biden administration, stating, “A president that would leave Americans stranded in Afghanistan probably doesn't see the onus to take care of 20 veterans in a hotel. And I hate to say it, but that's just the absolute truth of it.”
- Outnumbered co-hosts Emily Compagno and Kayleigh McEnany expressed outrage over the New York Post story, with Compagno claiming “America's heroes are now paying the price” for the “Southern border crisis.” McEnany lamented, “I can't help but notice the contrast when you have a 24-year-old — a veteran, had been in Afghanistan — kicked out of his hotel room as an Afghan national on the terror watch list is crossing the border in San Diego.”
- Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum complained, “You’ve got the hotels in New York that are having to take folks in. You had one in Newburgh, New York, where they had to cancel a wedding and kick out some homeless veterans to make room for incoming migrants.”
- Conservative moving company owner John Rourke appeared on One America News and ranted, “It just drives me nuts when we have veterans sleeping on the streets of this country and committing suicide in record numbers … and here we are filling up hotel rooms with illegal aliens, giving them cell phones, giving them medical attention, giving them food and water, and then putting them on planes.”
- On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. used the story to attack Democrats, stating, “Honestly, this is just infuriating! Homeless vets are being booted from New York hotels to make room for migrants. Fuck Democrats & their bullshit policies! America last isn’t hyperbole it’s their goal.”
- Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier tweeted, “Unacceptable. Nearly two dozen struggling homeless vets have been booted from NY hotels… So illegal immigrants can have space. WHAT?!”
- Conservative radio host Bo Snerdley tweeted, “This is about as ruthless, coldblooded, and incredibly heinous as anything Biden and Democrats have ever done. Kicking American veterans out of their lodging to make way for illegal immigrants? What country IS this?”
- Newsmax contributor Tony Shaffer later tweeted, “This tells you everything you need to understand about the progressive left cult - they are out to expand political power and a permanent underclass that will vote for them even if it means sacrificing veterans.”
- Fox News contributor and former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted, “What could be more backwards than putting illegal immigrants ahead of American veterans? An insult to American sovereignty.”
- 2024 Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted a link to the New York Post’s story, adding, “Liberal insanity at work.”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.