Turn on CNN, Fox News, and any other number of cable news networks and you’re likely to see and hear a skewed vision of the state of immigration in the U.S. and it’s impact. No surprise here. Media Matters Action Network just released a study, Fear and Loathing in Prime Time Immigration Myths and Cable News, that puts some numbers together to show just how warped this vision is. For example, our pal Lou Dobbs has dedicated 70% of his shows to the issue of “illegal immigration”. Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck specifically have made careers on making the myths surrounding “scary brown people without papers” part of the media and general consciousness.
During 2007, the alleged connection between illegal immigration and crime was discussed on 94 episodes of Lou Dobbs Tonight, 66 episodes of The O’Reilly Factor, and 29 episodes of Glenn Beck.
During 2007, the allegation that undocumented immigrants drain social services and/or don’t pay taxes was discussed on 71 episodes of Lou Dobbs Tonight, 13 episodes of Glenn Beck, and eight episodes of The O’Reilly Factor.
Dobbs and Beck have perpetuated two related myths, that there are plans to construct a “NAFTA Superhighway” running from Mexico to Canada, and that there are plans to join Mexico, Canada, and the United States in a “North American Union” similar to the European Union. Dobbs has discussed the fictional North American Union on 56 separate programs during the past two years. (These two myths were also given a boost by Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who pushed the ideas on the campaign trail.)
All three programs have presented as fact the “reconquista” myth, which states that there is a movement afoot for Mexico to take over the American Southwest.
Lou Dobbs Tonight has also been the show on which viewers are told about a mythical explosion of leprosy cases due to illegal immigration, and a mythical epidemic of voter fraud due to illegal immigration.
The report does an excellent job at countering the myths with facts and stats, just like the right wing fear mongers do.
It’s really worth reading.
Check out the report here.
Check out a video to go with the report after the jump.