The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the country’s largest association of Latinx journalists, has taken a stand against the fear mongering “journalism” of Fox News. The organization is rejecting thousands of dollars of sponsorship funds from Fox News that were originally set to be used for the Excellence in Journalism conference next month in San Antonio. The rejection follows particularly egregious comments from Fox News radio host Todd Starnes, but has been a long time coming.
NAHJ’s president Hugo Balta, the son of Peruvian immigrants, published a letter explaining why the organization decided to rescind its invitation to the network, citing how Starnes recently referred to undocumented immigrants as an “invasion of a rampaging hoard of illegal aliens,” most of whom are violent criminals. The vicious comments were made after the shooting in El Paso… not that there’s ever a better time for a journalist to peddle racist ideas with racist language. Just for good measure, Starnes also likened undocumented immigrants to Nazis.
Balta explained in his letter that while NAHJ has been taking part in dialogue with Fox News to curb its racist bias, the organization felt it had but little choice to cut the network as a sponsor. “To accept financial support from an entity that perpetuates the spread of disinformation to the public about the Hispanic and Latino community risks the integrity and credibility of NAHJ’s 35 year mission,” he wrote. “To sit silently by is, in essence to be complicit in the act itself.” He added that the organization is still invested in reshaping the racist narrative that the network broadcasts to its audience, but that Fox News would need to demonstrate “real change.”
Fox News characterized the move from NAHJ as exclusionary and unwarranted. “As the leading news network in the country, we are committed to fostering a diverse and collaborative workplace environment, and have been recognized in the industry for our advancement in this area, most notably with our multimedia reporter program,” wrote the network’s VP of Diversity and Inclusion in a statement. The statement did not acknowledge the brazen racism that the network peddles to its audience.
Balta concluded his letter by sharing his personal fears over the effect that racist messaging has had on the general public. “My 16-year old daughter and 13-year old son asked me if we should stop speaking Spanish in public for fear of being a target. I lied to them,” he wrote. “I lied when I said they shouldn’t be afraid and defiantly told them we are not going to stop conversing with one another in Spanish in public. I lied. I am afraid.”