Tag: immigration
Kevin McCarthy

Far-Right House Caucus Aims To Force Government Shutdown

The House Freedom Caucus has set the stage for a government shutdown, issuing a list of demands on Monday that they know will never be met. They are thereby setting up a test of wills between themselves and basically everyone else in the House and Senate, starting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Congress will need to pass a temporary funding bill to keep the government open when current funding ends on Sept. 30, and the Freedom Caucus is insisting it will not back a clean continuing resolution. Even a short-term bill, they insist, would need to include their far-right demands.

Freedom Caucus members are opposing any bill that “continues Democrats’ bloated COVID-era spending,” which is to say they’d oppose a short-term spending bill that didn’t make cuts right off the bat because they didn’t like the last government spending bill to pass. Additionally, they say, they won’t support any spending bill unless it includes the hateful immigration bill House Republicans said was a “first week” priority, but only managed to pass in May. They are vowing to oppose any bill that doesn’t “[a]ddress the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI to focus them on prosecuting real criminals instead of conducting political witch hunts and targeting law-abiding citizens” and “[e]nd the Left’s cancerous woke policies in the Pentagon undermining our military’s core warfighting mission.”

So first off they want a rollback to pre-pandemic spending levels, plus a bill that it took months for the House to pass as a stand-alone and that stands no chance in the Senate. But as unlikely as that is, at least it’s a concrete ask. From there, it gets murkier. How is a spending bill supposed to “address the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI”? Presumably cutting off the special counsel’s investigation into Donald Trump, but this is a demand that could cover a lot of ground, some of which the different members of the Freedom Caucus probably don’t even agree on. Finally, they are demanding a legislative ban on various military policies they don’t like, presumably starting with the military’s policy of paying for service members and their families to travel for medical care, including abortion, and maybe policies allowing trans service members to serve openly in the military. But again, railing against “cancerous woke policies” is pretty vague language, especially considering that these days “woke” means anything a Republican doesn’t like. In some Republican hands, “End the Left’s cancerous woke policies” could mean resegregating the military.

In translation, the Freedom Caucus is saying that it wants a government shutdown because they know that these demands will never be met. The only way to keep the government open will be for McCarthy to rely on Democratic votes to get a clean continuing resolution and, ultimately, a funding bill through the House. The Freedom Caucus is banking—with good reason—on McCarthy being unwilling to do that. But just in case this is the moment McCarthy finds a spine, the Freedom Caucus said it would “oppose any attempt by Washington to revert to its old playbook of using a series of short-term funding extensions designed to push Congress up against a December deadline to force the passage of yet another monstrous, budget busting, pork filled, lobbyist handout omnibus spending bill at year’s end and we will use every procedural tool necessary to prevent that outcome.” In other words, if you try to pass this without us, we will do whatever it takes to block it from getting a vote.

It’s not clear that the Freedom Caucus demands could get through the House with its very narrow Republican control. They definitely can’t get through the Senate. So when the Freedom Caucus says that its support is contingent on getting all of their demands and that its members will do whatever possible to block a House vote on a bill they don’t like, they’re saying they want a shutdown. Let’s be very, very clear about that as the possibility of a government shutdown looms next month: It’s not both sides. It’s House Republicans.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

How Fox News Promoted Homeless Vets Hoax To Smear Asylum Seekers

How Fox News Promoted Homeless Vets Hoax To Smear Asylum Seekers

Fox News and Fox Business relentlessly promoted a false New York Post story claiming that homeless veterans were displaced from hotels to make room for newly-arrived migrants for several days last week, devoting more than an hour of airtime to claims that seemed tailor-made for Fox’s anti-immigrant hysteria. The networks’ coverage even included interviews with local government officials who said they had met with the displaced veterans.

But the story told by the Post, and promoted by Fox, unraveled less than a week later, when local news outlets investigated the claims and determined that it was a hoax.

The Mid Hudson News was the first outlet to debunk the story. According to their reporting, there were never any veterans at the main hotel in question, the Crossroads Hotel, and nobody was kicked out to make room for migrants. The Mid Hudson Newsalso reported that the veterans that local politicians claimed to have met to verify the story were actually homeless men who were recruited from a shelter and paid “to act as veterans that had been displaced from a Newburgh hotel in order for a non-profit organization to perpetrate a fraud on the public.”

Another local newspaper, the Times Union, reported that an attorney for the Crossroads Hotel stated that staff at the hotel “are receiving serious threats — including death threats — from all over the county as a result of” the false accusation, and that staff one day “were forced to call 911 to seek protection against someone who was menacing the staff at the hotel, claiming he was looking for the veterans.”

Once this story was debunked by local news outlets, and nearly two weeks after Fox began promoting the story, Fox News and Fox Business began airing extremely short “updates,” which admitted that the entire story was false. On May 24, Fox rolled out an obviously scripted statement on several programs specifically mentioning the Crossroads Hotel, which had featured prominently in Fox’s coverage, possibly to avoid yet another defamation lawsuit similar to those brought by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic in response to Fox’s political smear campaigns against them.

Key events in Fox’s promotion of this hoax:

  • May 12

    Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post published an “exclusive” evening report headlined: “Homeless vets are being booted from NY hotels to make room for migrants: advocates.” The report cited Sharon Toney-Finch, CEO of a nonprofit organization that the Post claimed “works with the vets.” According to the article, “Nearly two dozen struggling homeless veterans … were told by the hotels at the beginning of the week that their temporary housing was getting pulled out from under them at the establishments and that they’d have to move on to another spot.” The Post claimed that the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, New York, booted the majority of the veterans, and that they were relocated to another hotel “about 20 minutes away.”
  • May 13

    Fox & Friends Weekend kicked off Fox News’ coverage of this fake story the day after it was published by introducing it in the context of the expiration of Title 42 and prominently displaying the Post’s front page, with the cover stating: “Vets kicked out for migrants: Outrage as upstate hotels tell 20 homeless veterans to leave.” The co-hosts quoted from the Post as Pete Hegseth held up the front page to the camera.Later, Neil Cavuto interviewed Orange County (New York) Executive Steven Neuhaus, whom the Post reported had filed a lawsuit against the hotels, which supposedly kicked out the veterans. Neuhaus would be the first of several New York state government officials Fox would interview about the story. During the interview, Neuhaus attacked the owners of these hotels and urged the New York Civil Liberties Union to sue them, and claimed he talked to one of the displaced veterans, saying: “The girl I talked to today, she’s got three Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star with valor. She was in tears.” (It’s unclear which woman Neuhaus claims to have spoken to; the homeless people recruited by Toney-Finch for this hoax were all men. However, Toney-Finch herself now faces scrutiny for potentially lying about her service in the Army, including her receipt of a Purple Heart.)
  • May 14

    A day after Fox began promoting the fake story, Fox News weekend anchor Arthel Neville explicitly claimed, “Fox News confirms 20 homeless vets just got kicked out of several hotels in the suburbs north of Manhattan to make room for those migrants getting bussed in from the city.” Fox correspondent CB Cotton then quoted Toney-Finch’s nonprofit organization (which had fabricated the entire thing) to substantiate the false claim.
  • May 15

    After the weekend, Fox News and Fox Business began promoting the hoax in earnest. Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said it was “astonishing that some of these hotels are getting migrants” and canceling 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, “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 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 watchlist is crossing the border in San Diego.”Fox 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.” (Unlike the homeless veterans hoax, other outlets have confirmed the reported wedding cancellations.) Fox host Sean Hannity said, “Let’s get some facts out so Joe Biden can understand what is really going on,” before proclaiming: “This is pretty infuriating, homeless vets who served our great country, they’re being put out on the street and replaced by illegal immigrants.” As he said this, Hannity displayed the headline of a FoxNews.com article which stated: “Biden admin, NY officials slammed after homeless veterans booted from migrant hotels: ‘Slap in the face.’” (After local news outlets debunked the false story, this FoxNews.com article was completely changed to reflect the debunk, with an editor’s note added to the bottom).Fox Business anchor and noted election conspiracy theorist Maria Bartiromo introduced this fake story to Fox’s sister network during an interview with Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY). During the segment, Bartiromo slipped and said: “It's incredible that the vets are being killed — kicked out, so that there's room for illegals.”
  • May 16

    On May 16, another Fox correspondent, this time Nate Foy, said that Fox had “confirmed” that the fake story was true: “I can confirm those 20 veterans are staying at a different hotel, and a handful of them are on their way to permanent housing.”Later on The Ingraham Angle, David Riley, an American Legion representative in New York, joined host Laura Ingraham in expressing outrage over the fake Post story. Ingraham claimed homeless veterans were being treated as “second-class citizens” by supposedly being kicked out of hotels. During Riley’s angry ranting about the fake story, Fox aired b-roll video prominently showing the front of the Crossroads Hotel.Cavuto also continued to feature the fake story on his Fox Business program, where on-air graphics claimed, “Homeless vets booted from hotels to house migrants,” and, “Nearly two dozen homeless vets removed from hotels.”
  • May 17

    The hoax story continued to be told on several Fox programs on May 17, including for the first time on the network’s flagship “news” show, Special Report. On the program, Foy said that the office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams “denies removing homeless U.S. veterans from an Orange County hotel to accommodate migrants.”That night, the Mid Hudson Newspublished its first report debunking the New York Post’s story. Toney-Finch, who was the Post’s source for its story, had provided a credit card receipt for room charges at the Crossroads Hotel as proof that her organization paid for homeless veterans to stay there before they were supposedly displaced. But the Mid Hudson News determined that the receipt was a forgery, and a manager at the hotel said there was no record of that transaction. The newspaper further reported that “the manager said there were no veterans at the hotel, none were kicked out and no other guests were told to vacate. The hotel does have a group of asylum seekers there, but the seven-year general manager noted that the hotel is not even booked to capacity and rooms are available.”
  • May 18

    The day after the Mid Hudson News debunked this story, and hours after the newspaper published follow-up reporting on the hoax, Fox continued to air the fake story as if it was true. On Fox News Tonight, Riverhead, New York, Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said: “In particular, what’s really, really disturbing … was that in the Crossroads Hotel in Orange County, he [Mayor Eric Adams] made a deal with the hotel. They took 25 local area residents who were homeless, who needed this shelter, put them out on the street to house people that have come in over our borders.” Cain, who was hosting the show, did not correct her.
  • May 19

    On May 19, Mid Hudson Newspublished another story further debunking this hoax, reporting that a group of 15 local homeless men were recruited by Toney-Finch “to pretend they were veterans that had been kicked out of the Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh last Friday, in advance of the arrival of migrants brought up from New York City.” The newspaper reported that “they were each promised $200 along with food and alcohol” by Toney-Finch, who “appear[s] to have fabricated the entire story.”
  • Hours later, Fox began to admit that the story it promoted was fake. Fox correspondent Nate Foy, who previously claimed to have “confirmed” the story, offered what he described as a “quick update,” stating: “We’re now looking into new reports that a veterans advocate misled lawmakers, and media outlets, about a story that some homeless men may have been hired to pose as veterans.” Anchor John Roberts responded: “There’s enough chaos without potentially false stories running around out there.” Indeed.
  • Later that night, Ingraham offered her own “little update” on the hoax she had been promoting: “Before we go, a little update on a story we brought you this week about homeless vets being displaced from hotels so that illegals could move in. Turns out, the group behind the claim made it up. We have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing.”
  • A Media Matters review determined that Fox News and Fox Business had devoted more than an hour of combined airtime to the promotion of this hoax prior to starting these corrections.The same night, The Daily Beast also published an exposé of Sharon Toney-Finch, the veteran and advocate who fabricated the story, which she fed to the New York Post and other media outlets. The Beast reported that she may have lied about her own military record and decorations:

The woman at the center of the maelstrom is Sharon Toney-Finch, who was inducted last July into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame after a special salute by lawmakers for her service. She is listed in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, has been the subject of glowing profiles about her heroism under fire, and once appeared on Fox & Friends to unveil a set of Purple Heart commemorative coins. On May 16, New York State Sen. Rob Rolison, a former police officer, honored Toney-Finch as a “woman of distinction,” making special note of her Purple Heart.[...]However, U.S. Army spokesman Bryce Dubee told The Daily Beast on Friday that the Department of Defense does not know anything about Toney-Finch and a Purple Heart.[...]Officials with the Army’s Human Resources Command told the Times-Union on Friday that they, too, were “unable to verify (from our records) that Sharon Toney received a Purple Heart.”

  • May 20

    On May 20, one week after Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth, who is himself a decorated U.S. Army veteran, kicked off Fox’s promotion of this hoax by holding up the front page of the New York Post, he made a seemingly sincere apology and used the word “correction”: “We do have a quick correction on a story we brought you last weekend. The source who told the New York Post, get this one, that the homeless veterans in New York were displaced to make room for illegals at another New York hotel, made the story up. It was a made-up story. And our apologies for reporting it as such.”
  • May 21

    New York Mayor Eric Adams called out the hoax during an appearance on CBS’ Face The Nation on May 21, saying: “We have witnessed in some municipalities where they lied and stated that veterans were being forced out of hotels, which was untrue and found out to be fabricated. So, these types of tactics are just anti-American and anti-New York City.”And on CNN, anchor Jim Acosta and national correspondent Gloria Pazmino highlighted the “very disturbing story” of the homeless men hired to pose as displaced veterans, describing the allegations as “a complete scam.”
  • May 22

    On May 22, MSNBC host Chris Hayes ran a comprehensive segment calling out Fox News for claiming it had “confirmed” the false story, in the context of its recent $787.5 million defamation settlement in the Dominion case, as well as the long line of Republican politicians ranging from the local to national levels who pushed the hoax. He ended by mocking Ingraham’s contention that “we have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing” like making up a story.“Why would anyone want to make up a story that’s too good to check, but plays directly into the most deranged bias of your conservative audience?” Hayes opined. “I can’t imagine Fox News airing those kinds of lies, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
  • May 24

    Multiple Fox News anchors and other on-air personalities, including Cavuto, Bartiromo, Faulkner, and others read a nearly-identical script, again described as an “update” rather than a correction or retraction, specifically naming the Crossroads Hotel and acknowledging that the story was false. They also gave a disingenuous promise to provide viewers more information “as we get it,” ignoring the extensive information already uncovered in the last week by both local and national news outlets. This script also ignored that they smeared migrants by pushing this fake story in the previous week.

TODD PIRO (CO-HOST): We want to update you on reports last week claiming that upstate hotels in Orange and Rockland counties, including the Crossroads Hotel, evicted a group of homeless veterans. We've since learned that veterans advocates misled local officials, and it now turns out those eviction claims were false. We wanted to update you on this story and make sure the record was set straight. More as we get it.

It turns out that the Crossroads Hotel that Fox repeatedly attacked in its promotion of this hoax, and which is prominently mentioned in the weirdly scripted corrections on May 24, is owned by Choice Hotels, which is an advertiser on Fox.

Fox News was effectively smearing one of its own advertisers by promoting a hoax that was reportedly followed by death threats.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Ignoring Border Reality, Fox Blares Racist Immigration Rhetoric

Ignoring Border Reality, Fox Blares Racist Immigration Rhetoric

Fox News obsessed over the prospect of an imminent, “catastrophic” migrant “invasion” in the days leading up to the May 11 expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that allowed U.S. authorities to swiftly turn migrants away at the border. Network hosts warned that the border had been “effectively abolished,” and that migrants who received a “free pass” would be “saying hello to a suburb near you.” The Biden administration, they warned, was acting “intentionally” in ending the policy as it sought to carry out its “goal” to “fundamentally change America” by importing new “Democratic voters.”

This analysis was wrong – not that that’s deterred the Fox hosts who offered it. Migrant flows have actually declined since Title 42 lapsed, in part due to specific policies the Biden administration enacted that drew criticism from migrant advocates for restricting asylum claims. But Fox hasn’t changed course, and is continuing to sound the alarm that migrants are a threat to their viewers and that the Biden administration is at fault.

Immigration is the issue that best captures how Fox coverage seeks to keep viewers in perpetual fear of what they see on the screen. At its most sinister, the network promotes the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory that a globalist cabal is browning America for nefarious electoral purposes. But on a daily basis, its aim is to ensure that the audience feels that the country is under siege from migrant hordes and that the Democrats are at fault – even when reality contradicts their commentary.

Some at Fox have responded to their failed predictions by ignoring the unfavorable numbers and sticking to their script.

“Everybody knows that Democrats support liberal immigration policies and they like open borders because they want votes, and their donors want cheap labor,” Fox prime time host Laura Ingraham said a few days after Title 42’s expiration. “The only force capable of closing the floodgates is an angry and frankly energized American electorate.”

Host Sean Hannity likewise maintained after Title 42’s expiration that “the borders are wide open” and that President Joe Biden is “aiding and abetting lawbreaking.”

Others at Fox highlighted individual crimes allegedly committed in the United States by migrants and the prospect of terrorists captured at the border as additional reasons for viewers to stay scared.

“New reports suggest that there’s plenty of reasons to be concerned about who’s coming across the southern border,” anchor John Roberts said at the top of a “straight news” segment. After correspondent Bill Melugin detailed reports that several individuals on the terror watchlist as well as an individual previously convicted for manslaughter had been taken into custody near the border, Roberts summed up: “Bad people still hungry to get into the United States.”

On Fox & Friends Tuesday, the hosts stressed the downside of Title 42’s expiration, with Pete Hegseth arguing that cartels abusing migrants waiting in Mexico was a sign of “a Biden border crisis absolutely out of control.”

The willingness of Fox hosts to promote any story that casts migrants in a bad light, no matter how far-fetched, can blow up in their faces. The network ran with the New York Post’s May 13 report that migrants had displaced 20 homeless military veterans “evicted” from two New York state hotels. Fox personalities highlighted the “disgraceful treatment” of veterans and their replacement by a “flood of illegal immigrants” – then the story was exposed as the result of a hoax.

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent recently noted that the right’s “fantasy that the border is constantly in chaos has become a marker of MAGA identity.” That illusion could not be sustained without the careful and constant efforts of outlets like Fox.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

GOP Dark Money Outfit Used Russian Stock Video For Anti-Biden Ads

GOP Dark Money Outfit Used Russian Stock Video For Anti-Biden Ads

A political ad that ran on television on October 28 during a World Series game broadcast and criticized President Joe Biden for aiding Ukraine used stock footage from Russian sources, a review has found. The ad is funded by Citizens for Sanity, a dark money conservative tax-exempt nonprofit group that has supported Republican candidates during the 2022 election cycle.

Politicoreported that Citizens for Sanity began running a six-figure advertising campaign attacking Democrats, starting in August.

The ad that ran during the World Series game shows footage of a Black man in the aisle of a grocery store with text that reads "GROCERIES UP 13%." The video clip is available for purchase on the stock photo and video site iStock.

The creator of the footage is listed on iStock as Elena Perova. The same photographer, who also appears to go by the name Elena Shishkina, has images and video clips for sale on another stock photo site, Dreamstime. The account lists her location as Permskiy Kray in the Russian Federation. Many of the same images can be found on both sites.

The narrator of the ad says: "Now, Biden says that his fight in Ukraine could lead to nuclear Armageddon — World War III." The quote is taken out of context: It is from an October 6 speech Biden gave at a Democratic Party fundraiser in which he warned that Vladimir Putin's threatened use of nuclear weapons is a cause for global concern.

According to a White House transcript of his remarks, Biden said: "We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We've got a guy I know fairly well; his name is Vladimir Putin. I spent a fair amount of time with him. He is not joking when he talks about the potential use of tactical and nuclear weapons, or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming."

Citizens for Sanity has run other ads, including a series in which it condemned transgender youth and accused "Biden and his radical allies" of "destroying girls' sports" by advocating for transgender equality, part of a campaign nationwide by conservatives and Republicans against transgender rights with an eye to motivating conservative voters.

It has also been criticized for advertisements that accuse Democrats of supporting criminals. In another ad that aired during the World Series, Democrats are accused of "hurting our children" by supporting "illegal immigration" that is "threatening your family."

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch described the advertising as "deliberately dishonest," noting that it associates a crime committed by an undocumented immigrant with Democratic policies, even though it occurred when former President Donald Trump was in office in 2020.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, columnist Michael Hitzik described the ads that Citizens for Sanity ran earlier, during the baseball playoffs, as "unbelievably racist."

Citizens for Sanity has its roots in the Trump administration, and specifically with officials in that administration who were deeply involved in anti-immigrant policy.

Three of the group's board members — Gene Hamilton, John Zadrozny and Ian Prior — served in the Trump administration. All three men work with the America First Legal Foundation, a group formed by former senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller. Among other efforts, the group has brought multiple lawsuits against the Biden administration aimed at preventing changes to Trump's anti-immigrant policies and stopping federal aid to Black farmers.

In addition to his role as the architect of many of the Trump administration's anti-immigrant policies, Miller has long-standing ties to white nationalists. In one set of emails that was released in 2019, Miller argued in favor of limiting nonwhite immigration to the U.S.

Hamilton worked in the Department of Justice and authored a memo that ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the policy put in place by President Barack Obama to delay action against undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The Biden administration has taken steps to reinstate the policy.

Zadrozny worked at the State Department and U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services during the Trump administration and had previously worked for the anti-immigrant group FAIR. FAIR has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Prior also worked in the Trump Department of Justice; since Trump's presidency ended, he has been involved in conservative activism. Prior was a member of a conservative political action committee called Fight for Schools, which attacked school board members in Virginia for promoting racial inclusion.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.