February 28, 2013

Fox has been fanning the flames of fear lately that dangerous criminal immigrants have been let loose by the Obama administration as a response to pending sequester spending cuts. But the propaganda took a new turn for the worse as Fox & Friends presented anti-immigrant extremist Lou Barletta (R-PA) as an unquestioned authority to discuss what is in reality ICE's supervised release of some undocumented immigrants. As he made the McCarthy-esque warning that he had "been told" dangerous criminals were now on the loose, he also accused the Obama administration of preferring to endanger Americans rather than to lay off any federal employees.

It started with Steve Doocy making the unsubstantiated announcement in his introduction, “Hundreds of illegal immigrants charged with big crimes freed from jail.”

After playing a clip of Jay Carney saying the decision to release the detainees was made by “career officials at ICE without any input from the White House,” Gretchen Carlson asked, “So are we to believe the White House now?” For the answer, she brought on Barletta who, she said, “I know is skeptical.” She forgot to tell her viewers that Barletta, was described by Right Wing Watch as a “one-issue firebrand,” a “hero to anti-immigrant and nativist groups,” and one of the Ten Scariest Republicans Heading To Congress in 2010.

A quick Google search turned up the facts of the ICE release. Here, for example, is an excerpt from yesterday’s The Hill:

Republicans have begun hammering the administration for answers as to why earlier this week ICE released “several hundred” illegal immigrants into a supervised monitoring program.

An ICE spokeswoman said the move, which targeted only illegal immigrants deemed to be a low public safety risk, was in preparation for the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, widely expected to go into effect on Friday, which would limit the number of detainees ICE could pay to house.

A DHS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Hill on Wednesday that career detention facility administrators release low-risk illegal immigrants into a less costly supervision program on a nearly daily basis. Administrators make the call based on their budgetary and infrastructure constraints, without the need for sign-off approval from administration officials, the official said.

CBS News noted yesterday, that those who are released “are required to wear electronic tracking devices, regularly call immigration officials or visit ICE offices.”

But somehow neither Doocy nor Carlson, the two hosts for this segment, were able to find that information. Or else they deliberately decided not to impart it. Instead, they accepted without question Barletta’s assertion, “I was told” some of those released “may have been high level criminal aliens” who are “so bad that their own countries didn’t want to take them back.”

Shades of Breitbart Ben and the Friends of Hamas, eh? But neither host showed the least bit of interest in finding out who told Barletta or what information he had about “high level” criminals. Even worse, Carlson gave credence to the allegation by saying that she had been posing the same question, too. She said she has been wondering, “What if these were high-level criminals who would go out and commit another crime? Who would be responsible? What if somebody dies?”

And yet, rather than have a Fox News reporter try to find the answer, she and Doocy were all ears as Barletta demonstrated what put him on RWW’s 10 Scariest list:

This is a federal government that has grown so big and so expensive that they would rather let criminals go than federal employees. …This reminds me of when Fidel Castro released the criminal prisoners in the Mariel boatlift in 1980. To go to that level, that this is the only cost savings we could do is to put Americans at risk by any criminal alien regardless of what the crime was, is inexcusable.

As Barletta spoke, Carlson could be heard murmuring her agreement in the background. She said it would be “very scary” if this release turned out to be “for political gain.” Then she asked Barletta to keep them informed.

Funny, I thought it was her job to do the informing.

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