December 11, 2019
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Paranoia pandemic: Conservative media baselessly blame swine flu outbreak on immigrants

Following an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and subsequent confirmation of dozens of cases in the United States, conservative media personalities have baselessly blamed Mexican immigrants for spreading the disease across the border, continuing their long-standing trend of scapegoating immigrants while discussing major news stories. However, Rear Adm. Anne Schuchat, M.D., the interim deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's science and public health program, stated in an April 26 media availability: "I know that we have confirmation of disease in people who have traveled to Mexico, and I don't know the numbers, but I know that that is definitely the case in some of our cases, and that's an important factor to consider." Indeed, several media reports on U.S. swine flu patients indicated that they had recently traveled to Mexico.

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REPORT: Conservative media consistently scapegoat undocumented immigrants, ACORN

In coverage of major news stories, conservative media figures have repeatedly fallen back on two of their favorite bogeymen -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and undocumented immigrants -- frequently blaming national crises on one or both groups or accusing them of receiving undeserved benefits from the government. At best, these scapegoats are tenuously connected to the issues those figures are discussing; at worst, they are entirely unrelated. In some instances, the media linked their scapegoats to major news stories using misleading claims, and in others, they advanced outright falsehoods. Whatever the case may be, conservatives in the media consistently weave ACORN and undocumented immigrants into their coverage or commentary, instead of addressing the substantive policy issues or developing a cogent critique. Other media outlets follow the conservatives' lead, uncritically reporting their smears of ACORN and undocumented immigrants or reporting those smears as fact.


The National Council of LaRaza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights group called the attacks “not surprising” and “standard fare on the hate group circuit.” Indeed, Media Matters recently released a report documenting numerous instances of conservative media figures blaming immigrants for everything from voter fraud to the financial crisis.






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