CAP: Hate Radio’s Bigotry Against Hispanics

Permalink Center for American Progress just released this media alert.

On Monday, hate radio king Rush Limbaugh appeared on Fox News for five minutes to discuss the presidential race and managed to make an offensive comment. Limbaugh called Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who is Hispanic, a “shoe shine guy.” Yesterday, Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, blasted Limbaugh for uttering “the same kind of nasty, bigoted, racist type comment that has become so prevalent in today’s society, as practiced by Lou Dobbs, as practiced by [Sean] Hannity, [Bill] O’Reilly, [Michael] Savage.” Racial slurs, particularly fueled against Hispanics, has found a home on right-wing radio, which claims 91 percent of radio airwaves. The nation’s leading Hispanic advocacy group, National Council of La Raza, launched a campaign earlier this year decrying right-wing radio for its “rhetoric that demonizes immigrants and Hispanic Americans.” “Talk like Savage’s, or Limbaugh’s or O’Reilly’s, has become routine, even systematic, and certainly a big business. According to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the top five radio station owners that control 45 powerful, 50,000-watt or more radio stations broadcast 310 hours of nationally syndicated right-wing talk. But they broadcast only a total of five hours of countervailing talk,” Salon reported. Yet these talkers are rarely held to account: For example, neither ABC, Time, nor Politico mentioned the offensive remarks when reporting on Limbaugh’s TV commentary this week. Progressive radio host Mario Solis-Marich wrote Tuesday, “As a member of the largest minority ethnic group and a member of the media, I am continually puzzled and outraged by the idea that anyone can say anything about Latinos without fearing any consequence.”

DEMAGOGUING IMMIGRATION: A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found, “Thanks to energetic opposition from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, immigration was the biggest topic, at 16%, on conservative talk radio in the second quarter” of last year — when conservative radio led the effort to defeat congressional comprehensive immigration reform, largely by resorting to fear and hatred. Radio host Neal Boortz urged listeners to help defeat “this illegal alien amnesty bill” and “yank out the welcome mat.” Speaking of undocumented immigrants he said, “Give ’em all a little nuclear waste and let ’em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell ’em…it’ll heat tortillas.” Michael Savage repeatedly exhorted listeners to “burn a Mexican flag” and to “tell them to go back to where they came from.” CNN’s Glenn Beck, who also has a radio show, took particular issue with Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) support for the immigration bill (though McCain has since changed positions), deriding the senator as “Juan McCain.” Beck called McCain’s support for the bill and the fact that his national director of Hispanic outreach was of Mexican background “an audacious slap in the face.”

A ‘RACE WAR’: Right-wing radio’s discussion of immigration often veers away from policy to focus on race. Savage once warned his listeners, “The European-American, or the white person, is being erased from America’s future…There is a racial element to the immigration invasion, at least I see it that way.” Discussing a pro-immigrant parade in L.A., O’Reilly said, “So now, it’s becoming a race war.” O’Reilly also accused supporters of immigration — “who hate America…because it’s run primarily by white, Christian men” — of seeking “to change the complexion…of America.” These hatemongers have made clear their primary concern: maintaining a white majority. Just this year, Fox News’s John Gibson gave “a big round of applause” on his radio show to the “non-Hispanic white women” who were having babies, which he said vindicated his call on “the dominant, or largest population sector, which is Caucasians,” to “make more babies.” “And what happens to white people?” Savage wondered. “That’s the real question here. Will our brown brethren, who are so nationalistic and so anti-gringo and anti-Anglo, be as enlightened as the European-American is? I don’t think so.”

HEALTH SCARE: Right-wing radio hosts have also — wrongly — claimed that illegal immigrants should be kept out of the United States because they bring strange diseases in. O’Reilly agreed with a caller into his radio show who said that illegal immigration “surpasses the impact of 9/11” because “each one of these people is a biological weapon.” The caller claimed that that “illegals crossing the border” are bringing “tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy.” O’Reilly agreed, and said there was “an absolutely airtight case” that more Americans “have either been killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are here,” than died on 9/11. (O’Reilly later insisted he “never said anything like that.”) Last summer, CNN’s Lou Dobbs repeatedly claimed that there were “7,000” cases of leprosy in the U.S. in the last three years, and suggested the cases were due to illegal immigrants. When confronted with a CBS analysis that found only 7,000 cases of leprosy in the last 30 years — and an unknown number involving illegal immigrants — Dobbs simply replied, “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”

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