Protesting Fox News anchors’ on-air rhetoric against immigrants, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists will return its share of a $50,000 package of conference sponsorships purchased by the network.
An association supporting Hispanic news professionals is taking a stand against the Fox News organization, saying its on-air personalities have crossed a line in their rhetoric about immigrants.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists—which will host the Excellence in Journalism conference jointly with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) next month in San Antonio—has rescinded its invitation to the cable news network as an NAHJ sponsor at the event.
The decision was announced in a letter from NAHJ President Hugo Balta, who cited comments made by Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes. On his show, Starnes spoke of an “invasion of a rampaging horde of illegal aliens,” described immigrants as violent criminals, and compared them to Nazis invading Europe in World War II. The comments came soon after a deadly mass shooting near the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, and Balta said Starnes’ wording mirrored a manifesto released by the gunman.
Balta said his organization has engaged in “years of ongoing NAHJ conversations with Fox News and recent meetings with management” but that anti-immigrant comments by network anchors are met with “little to no consequences.”
NAHJ will return $16,666 in sponsorship revenue from the event—its share of the $50,000 Fox News paid to the three associations hosting the conference. “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,” Balta wrote.
SPJ and RTDNA have declined to follow suit, saying they would retain Fox News as a sponsor.
“We condemn the unacceptable comments by the Fox contributor, however, as a press freedom organization, we must defend the spirit of free speech inherent in the First Amendment,” SPJ National President J. Alex Tarquinio said in a news release. “Although it is unfortunate when the principle of free speech collides with the basic moral standards of civil debate, we will not exclude any media organization from the Excellence in Journalism conference based on their commentators’ points of view.”
Responding to the NAHJ decision, Fox News Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Marsheila Hayes defended the network’s record.
“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,” she said in a statement acquired by The Daily Beast. “We are proud of our inclusive team and their achievements in journalism.”
NAHJ includes members who work for Fox News. Balta stressed that the association’s decision to decline sponsorship by the network “is directed to Fox News management and in no way towards NAHJ members employed by the media company. Our association will continue to support our members in development, training and career opportunities.”