Fear & Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News

"Number one, the illegal aliens shouldn't be here. And number two, the culture from which they come is a lot more violent than the USA."
-- The O'Reilly Factor, January 15, 2007

There are many problems facing the United States today: a faltering economy, a health-care crisis, and the continuing war in Iraq, to name a few. But viewers of some of the most prominent cable news programs are presented a different reality in which one issue stands above all others: illegal immigration.

Media Matters Action Network undertook this study in order to document how immigration is discussed and debated on cable news. When it comes to immigration, cable news overflows not just with vitriolic rhetoric, but also with a series of myths that feed viewers' resentment and fears, fostering hostility toward immigrants.

We focus our analysis on a trio of cable commentators: Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck. While hosts on other cable programs regularly discuss illegal immigration (particularly on Fox News, where it is a frequent topic on Hannity & Colmes and Special Report with Brit Hume), these three are the most notable for a number of reasons. On their eponymous programs, Dobbs, O'Reilly, and Beck serve up a steady diet of fear, anger, and resentment on the topic of illegal immigration.

Fear & Loathing in Prime Time Launches with Congressional and Organizational Support

On Wednesday, May 21, Media Matters Action Network, along with several members of Congress and prominent immigration groups, held a press conference to discuss "Fear and Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News." Participants included: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL); Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA); Janet Murguía of the National Council of La Raza; and Frank Sharry of America's Voice.

Media Matters Action Network is honored that so many distinguished guests joined with us in the release of this important report. Check back soon for video from the press conference and related news coverage.

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End the steady diet of fear, anger, and resentment Dobbs, O'Reilly, and Beck promote day after day.


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