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US Hispanic journalist group rescinds invite for Fox News to be conference co-sponsor
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) on Thursday rescinded an invitation to Fox News to be one of its sponsors at an upcoming conference, accusing the network of blurring the line between commentary and journalism.
"My decision comes following the remarks of Fox News Radio Host, Todd Starnes," NAHJ President Hugo Balta wrote in a letter to the group's members.
"Starnes unapologetically states that America has 'suffered' from the 'invasion of a rampaging hoard of illegal aliens', claiming that most 'illegal immigrants' are violent criminals as well as casually using a reference for their immigration to the United States with the Nazis invading France and Western Europe in World War II."
"Starnes brazen language is symptomatic of a culture that provides a megaphone for disinformation by those in power with agendas, including the Trump administration at the cost of the most vulnerable - immigrant communities. While alarming, the situation with Starnes is not an isolated incident and follows years of ongoing NAHJ conversations with Fox News and recent meetings with management."
Balta, who works as a senior producer at MSNBC, highlighted the use of specific language like "army" or "invasion" on Fox News programming to discuss Hispanic people, saying it "criminalizes a community and broadens the national divide incited by the President's incessant negative rhetoric."
The letter references the mass shooting that left 22 dead in El Paso, Texas, earlier this month, where the alleged gunman is linked to a racist manifesto that echoes similar rhetoric about immigrants.
The NAHJ will return $16,666 to Fox News, which it had been given for the conference scheduled for September.
Balta called on the group's co-conference partners, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association, to also return sponsorship money to Fox News, but "they refused opting instead to give Fox News a larger platform to discuss what they label as a 'teachable moment.' "
"I will continue to engage Fox News management in the hope of improving conditions," Balta noted.
Marsheila Hayes, vice president of diversity & inclusion at Fox News, in statement obtained by The Hill called the NAHJ's decision "unfortunate."
"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," Hayes said.
"We are proud of our inclusive team and their achievements in journalism."
The NAHJ's decision to stop partnering with Fox News follows a similar one earlier in the year from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
DNC Chairman Tom Perez barred the network from hosting primary debates because of Fox News's reportedly close ties to the Trump administration.
Updated: 2:25 p.m.