The liberal media will shamelessly blame its more conservative competitors for tragedies, given an opening, and the front-page of Monday’s New York Times climbed on board with a long investigative report under its new “The New Nativists” rubric: “How the El Paso Gunman Echoed The Words of Right-Wing Pundits.”
An online subhead claimed: “Language like ‘invasion’ and the ‘replacement’ of Americans has increasingly become a regular part of Fox News broadcasts, Rush Limbaugh shows and other prominent conservative media.” The Times dived deep into word-counting, courtesy of reporters Jeremy Peters, Michael Grynbaum, Keith Collins, and Rich Harris.
The story included graphic blocks of transcript excerpts from conservative personalities like Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh, plus other Fox News hosts and guests, with the reporters taking every opportunity to link the figures to white supremacist massacres (click “expand”):
Tucker Carlson went on his prime-time Fox News show in April last year and told his viewers not to be fooled. The thousands of Central Americans on their way to the United States were “border jumpers,” not refugees, he said. “Will anyone in power do anything to protect America this time,” he asked, “or will leaders sit passively back as the invasion continues?”
When another group approached the border six months later, Ann Coulter, appearing as a guest on Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show, offered a dispassionately violent suggestion about what could be done to stem the flow of migrants: “You can shoot invaders.”
A few days after, Rush Limbaugh issued a grim prognosis to his millions of radio listeners: If the immigrants from Central America weren’t stopped, the United States would lose its identity. “The objective is to dilute and eventually eliminate or erase what is known as the distinct or unique American culture,” Mr. Limbaugh said, adding: “This is why people call this an invasion.”
There is a striking degree of overlap between the words of right-wing media personalities and the language used by the Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso this month. In a 2,300-word screed posted on the website 8chan, the killer wrote that he was “simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
It remains unclear what, or who, ultimately shaped the views of the white, 21-year-old gunman, or whether he was aware of the media commentary. But his post contains numerous references to “invasion” and cultural “replacement” -- ideas that, until recently, were relegated to the fringes of the nationalist right.
An extensive New York Times review of popular right-wing media platforms found hundreds of examples of language, ideas and ideologies that overlapped with the mass killer’s written statement -- a shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fears centered on immigrants of color. The programs, on television and radio, reach an audience of millions.
In November 2018 -- as Republicans, who were facing a tough midterm election, pushed the notion of a migrant “caravan” -- references to immigrants as invaders came up on more than three shows a day on average.
(“Caravan” was hardly an exclusively Republican term -- it appeared often in the press.)
Nonetheless, they continued (click “expand”):
In the four years since Mr. Trump electrified Republican voters with slashing comments about Muslims and Mexicans, demonizing references to immigrants have become more widespread in the news media, the Times review found.
The El Paso suspect, who confessed to the mass shooting last week, claimed in the document he posted to be defending against a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The words “invasion” and “invaders” appear six times in the text, a stark parallel to the language heard on conservative television and talk radio today.
Lawrence Rosenthal, a professor at the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, said that the shared vocabulary of white nationalists and many prominent conservatives was chilling....
No pro-border security conservative personality was safe:
Mr. Limbaugh has repeatedly described the flow of migrants across the Mexico border as a flood that will overtake America with cheap labor and dilute the country’s identity.
Yet many liberal economists have noted that immigration drives wages down, including the paper’s own economist turned left-wing columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote in 2006: “...many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration -- especially immigration from Mexico.”
One can’t imagine The Times devoting all these resources to left-wing personas accused of inciting violence and terrorism. One past example: The paper apparently had no interest in the 1996 rumor that Vice President Al Gore’s environmentalist screed Earth in the Balance was found in Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s cabin. The apocalyptic thinking of the two men had so many similarities that a quiz circulated in the early Internet days, using anonymous quotes from both Gore's book Earth in the Balance and from the Unabomber's manifesto, and posed the question: “Did Al Gore say it? Or was it the Unabomber?”
So if the use of the words “invasion” and “replace” condemn conservative media figures as fostering terrorism, did Al Gore’s apocalyptic book on the dark side of technology encourage “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski’s mail-bomb terrorism? The Times will try to prove one theory while ignoring another.
While engaging in scrutiny of the El Paso manifesto, the paper made no mention of its radical environmentalist streak. It even shares a title with a climate change documentary by Al Gore: “The Inconvenient Truth.” The manifesto includes the lines: “The environment is getting worse by the year.... So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”
While we’re playing the rhetorical blame game, the paper hasn’t done an investigation into any possible connection between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s use of the phrase “concentration camps” and a terrorist attack on an ICE detention center in Tacoma, Wash. That failed attacker left behind his own manifesto condemning the centers as "concentration camps.”