National Public Radio is the electronic media venue of choice for the over-educated professionals, the thinking elite and, of course, for liberals. What it lacks in reach, NPR makes up for in influence, not unlike the New Yorker Magazine, which you will find at the bedside stand of most NPR listeners. For this reason, it is especially unfortunate when NPR’s news division becomes a party to misinformation. On July 6, 2008, NPR’s weekend edition ran a story by Martin Kaste, on Hispanic voters entitled, “Through Ads, Candidates Vie for Hispanic Voters.” The gist of the story was the efforts by the presidential campaigns to woo Hispanic voters. The story quoted the usual suspect, but then the story swerved to a section on a “Hispanic group” that goes by the name of “You Don’t Speak for Me.” The article quoted as follows:
Davies, whose parents came here from Ecuador, is one of the founders of "You Don't Speak for Me," a group of Hispanics opposed to what they call "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. She says second- and third-generation Hispanics do not like being pigeonholed, even on the issue of language. For instance, she is not automatically charmed by the sound of ads spoken in Spanish. (emphasis added)
This attribution is egregious on a number of levels. First, it has nothing to do with the national election. Second, the “group of Hispanics” behind the organization, “You Don’t Speak for Me,” are not Hispanics at all. The organization, quoted by Kaste, is in fact a front group established by John Tanton's network of anti-immigrant and white supremacist organizations. A simple Google search by NPR’s fact-checkers would have disclosed these affiliations. “You Don’t Speak for Me,” has been identified as a front for the Federation for American Immigration Reform and its sister organizations, such as Numbers USA, by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center:
To both broaden the demographic of its movement and cultivate a grassroots following, the Washington D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has created front groups that work together, often in concert with vigilante groups, to broadcast a xenophobic message. At the same time, the groups serve as a defense against charges of racism.
You Don’t Speak for Me
In May 2006, the Washington D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) “was proud to help launch” a group called You Don’t Speak for Me (YDSFM), which claims to be a “coalition of Americans of Hispanic descent who believe that this nation must enforce its immigration laws in order to protect the security and interest of all citizens.”
YDSFM has ties to the border vigilante Minuteman organization. The Minutemen are a loose network of local chapters around the country, whose primary goal is to keep undocumented immigrants from Mexico out of the United States. The more extreme Minutemen chapters advocate patrols of the Mexican-American border by armed volunteers.
This is not the first time that NPR has quoted FAIR and its network of hate organizations as legitimate grass-roots organizations without failing to identify their racist affiliations. And NPR is not alone in this regard, the New York Times and other nationally respected publications continue to quote FAIR and NumbersUSA as authoritative or advocacy sources despite the many glaring instances of misinformation put out by such organizations. If the mainstream media is going to use extremist groups as sources, it should, at a minium, identify them as such.