NY Times and Washington Post Use White Nationalist Groups as Authoritative Sources, Watchdog Finds

Media Matters for America has published its most recent findings

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National newspapers and trusted outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times have routinely cited anti-immigrant groups in recent reporting, according to new findings from watchdog group Media Matters for America.

“The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA are all anti-immigrant groups with deep ties to the late white nationalist and eugenicist John Tanton, who wanted to limit immigration in order to maintain the United States as a white-majority country. Tanton personally founded FAIR and CIS, which have since been classified as hate groups by the SPLC,” explained the researchers of their findings.

Beyond The New York Times and Washington Post, the study reviewed pieces published in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and The Associated Press between January 1, 2019 and July 8, 2021. Media Matters found that the papers cited FAIR, CIS, or NumbersUSA in 203 articles and only 15% of those articles provided context about the groups’ beliefs or connections to the Trump administration or restrictionist immigration officials.

A representative for FAIR told TheWrap, “FAIR unequivocally rejects the ideology of white nationalism. FAIR advocates for more limited immigration and for enforcement of immigration laws based on concerns about the overpopulation and environmental impact, impact on American workers’ jobs and wages, cost burdens on taxpayers, national security and other issues that broadly affect the American public. Our view is that U.S. immigration policy should not discriminate against or in favor of anyone based on matters of race, religion, national origin, or other such characteristics.”

A rep for NumbersUSA also disputed MMA’s characterization, and pointed to the group’s Statement of Values, which states that “immigrant bashing, xenophobia, nativism, and racism are unacceptable responses to federal immigration policy failures. Race and ethnicity should play no role in the debate and establishment of immigration policy.”

Media Matters found that Reuters never contextualized references to the groups while the Journal failed to do so 94% of the time and the Los Angeles Times failed to do so 91% of the time. USA Today lacked context 90% of the time, while the AP did so in 87% of its pieces citing the groups and The New York Times did so in 78% of its pieces referring to the groups. The Washington Post failed to provide context 75% of the time, for the highest rate of context-providing among the major outlets reviewed.


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