Fox News airs extremist views

In a recent article reported on the dubious findings of a discredited report published by the extremist anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

FAIR claimed that undocumented immigrants drain hundreds of millions from the Arizona’s public services without noting that immigrant workers add some $26.4 billion in economic activity to the state.

In a statement, Immigration Policy Center spokesperson Wendy Sefsaf explained the flaws in FAIR’s findings. “FAIR’s latest data fails to account for the property, sales, and income taxes paid by unauthorized immigrants,” she said. “Nor does the data account for the consumer purchasing power of unauthorized immigrants – what they spend on goods, services, and housing – which actually creates jobs and generates additional tax revenue.”

“They seem to forget that deporting workers also means deporting consumers and taxpayers,” she explained.

The article gave the FAIR report biased, positive coverage and seemingly described its authors as objective “researchers.” The article failed to note, however, the organization’s long history of promoting hate.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), FAIR remains on its list of hate groups because of its ongoing ties to extremists and its promotion of such views.

SPLC’s website notes that FAIR was founded in 1979 by far-right ideologue John Tanton. Since then, “FAIR has long been marked by anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes. It has mixed this bigotry with a fondness for eugenics, the idea of breeding better humans discredited by its Nazi associations.”

In fact, FAIR has taken $1.2 million in donations “from an infamous, racist eugenics foundation,” the Pioneer Fund, SPLC points out.

Among its conspiracy theories, FAIR promotes the idea that Mexico uses migration to the U.S. as part of a secret plan to recapture the Southwestern states. It also promotes the theory that secret plans to merge Canada, the U.S., and Mexico are being implemented.

FAIR’s extremist ideas have been regularly promoted by Republican elected officials and the right-wing media. Republicans in Congress regularly invite FAIR staffers to congressional hearings, and right-wing media personalities like Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, as well as Fox News, regularly promote FAIR’s “findings.”

In fact, according to SPLC, in 2008 alone, the group was quoted in the media almost 500 times.

The group’s founder, Michigan native John Tanton, earned early concern from SPLC when through his periodical The Social Contract Press he published numerous white supremacist and anti-immigrant essays. As late as 2005 Tanton ran FAIR’s Research and Publications Committee. In addition to promoting the conspiracy of a Mexican reconquest, Tanton has written that India is systemically taking over France.

John Tanton also holds a close association with Wayne Lutton, who, according to SPLC, has held leadership positions in extremist, white supremacist organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens and has written for Holocaust denying publications like the Journal of Historical Review. Lutton works in Tanton’s Michigan offices.

Until 2003, Dan Stein, FAIR’s current president, served as an editorial adviser to the same publication in which both Tanton and Lutton published their extremist views. In 1997, Stein basically defended his organization’s eugenicist views to CNN’s Tucker Carlson. Other current members of FAIR’s board also advised Tanton’s extremist publication, and the organization still promotes it on their website, SPLC notes.

SPLC also documents a number of FAIR field organizers with openly racist and white supremacist views and organizational ties. From 2006 to 2007 John Turner, for example, worked as FAIR’s western field representative, helping to push an anti-immigrant ballot initiative in San Bernadino, California. The year before, however, Turner led an extremist group with apparent ties to skinhead and neo-Nazi organization called Save Our State, which SPLC listed immediately as a hate group. During his tenure in that group, Turner wrote, “I can make the argument that someone who proclaims to be a white nationalist isn’t necessarily a white supremacist. I don’t think that standing up for your ‘kind’ or ‘your race’ makes you a bad person.”

Other former and current FAIR staffers such as Rick Oltman, Dave Ray, Donald Collins, and Joe Guizzardi have active links to white supremacist groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens (the offshoot of the White Citizens’ Council) or to white supremacist and anti-Semitic websites like, SPLC reports.

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Joel Wendland-Liu
Joel Wendland-Liu

Joel Wendland-Liu is the author of Mythologies: A Political Economy of U.S. Literature, Settler Colonialism, and Racial Capitalism in the Long Nineteenth Century (International Publishers) and The Collectivity of Life (Lexington Books).