Originally published by The Intercept
THE WHITE SUPREMACIST who killed at least 22 people in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday appears to have been driven by a racist conspiracy theory — that the United States is under “invasion” by migrants and asylum-seekers from Central America — which has been repeated again and again on Fox News broadcasts and amplified by that network’s most powerful viewer, President Donald Trump.
As the former Obama administration official Brandon Friedman pointed out, it is hard to read even the first page of the suspected gunman’s manifesto, about the supposed “Hispanic invasion” he aimed to repel, without hearing echoes of the toxic rhetoric Trump absorbs from Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson and then passes on at rallies and in tweets
“There are literally straight lines between what the terrorist believes and what is repeated daily by conservative media outlets and the U.S. president,” Friedman observed.
Indeed, the steady drumbeat of invasion rhetoric from the network and the president over the past two years — this post includes 20 examples, and there are many more — suggests that they are locked in a feedback loop, working together to generate an ever-intensifying level of panic and xenophobia in their shared fan base.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is running for the presidency, said after the suspected attacker in El Paso drove 10 hours to the border to massacre supposed “invaders” that the poisonous influence of Fox had to be acknowledged.
On Monday, Trump read prepared remarks, haltingly, in which he blamed video games and social media for inspiring violence, and entirely avoided the subject of how often his own words, and those broadcast on Fox, are echoed by white nationalists in internet forums.
As the backlash against the president and the network intensified, “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade upped the ante on Tuesday morning, arguing, incredibly, that the arrival of impoverished migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border was no less an invasion than an actual attack on Alaska by the Russian military would be.
“When you have over 110,000 people coming a month—over a million last year and well over a million last year — if you use the term ‘invasion,’ that’s not anti-Hispanic, that’s a fact,” Kilmeade said. “If the Russians were coming through Alaska through Canada, the president would be using the same language.”
Warren and several other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination forcefully rejected Trump’s unpersuasive claim that “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
“White supremacy is not a mental illness,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “We need to call it what it is: Domestic terrorism. And we need to call out Donald Trump for amplifying these deadly ideologies.”
Another Democrat, South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, said on Sunday that “the ultimate amplifier on this kind of hate is the bully pulpit of the White House.”