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The Big Pummeling of a Big Fox Pundit

Reported by Chrish - August 12, 2007 -

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla

As I have often noted, Julie Banderas’ Big Story is a wild ride which sometimes takes unexpected turns and last night (August 11th) was no exception. Banderas did a segment about the effects on business of President Bush’s new proposal to crack down on businesses who hire illegals.

She stated that there has been a “lot of backlash from those who say that Bush has a plan to slap big fines on employers who hire illegals. Will this be the ruin of our economy?” (Comment: I was very curious to hear the Fox perspective as they are definitely pro “big business” while pandering to the xenophobes who hate illegals because they hate Mexicans. How, I wondered, would Fox play this issue?) Banderas then said something that usually isn’t mentioned by Fox; i.e. that the “dirty little secret” is that illegals get paid less than minimum wage and both illegals and employers avoid taxes (Comment: No, really?) and that if “legal workers did the jobs, the goods would cost more or the jobs would be shipped overseas where workers are paid a pittance.” She put the question to her panel, of whether the workplace or the border should be “the battleground.”

Joe Madison, African American activist and host of radio talk show “The Black Eagle” replied that there needs to be a comprehensive approach to the problems of illegal immigration. (Comment: it would be nice to see Madison as a guest of Sean Hannity.) Banderas then said she was shocked at a statistic that indicated that half of farm workers don’t have valid social security numbers and asked how this could be. Mark Williams, conservative talk show host, responded that since the slaves were freed, corporate America needed cheap labor and a few CEO’s should be doing a “perp walk for this human rights atrocity.” (Comment: I was absolutely shocked to hear this from Williams whose views are usually very right wing. I was expecting to hear the usual nativist rhetoric about how it is the illegals who are committing the crime by coming here, yada, yada. I give Williams credit for showing sensitivity to the real victims of the lack of enforcement.)

After Banderas noted that there is an argument that illegals are doing the jobs that Americans don’t want, Fox business journalist Stuart Varney indignantly said that he took issue with some of the things being said. Varney, in his posh accent, bemoaned the “labor shortage” while the other two guests shouted “bull.” Varney continued with “there is a shortage of those who show up for work stone cold sober.” (Comment: not like the astronauts!) Williams responded that there is a shortage at below minimum wage prices.

Madison then challenged Varney to come on his show and “bring your stats.” He added that black teens can’t find summer employment. In a thinly veiled racist comment, Varney said that “if the US economy didn’t need illegal immigrants, we wouldn’t employ them.” Madison contended that if “they paid good wages, there wouldn’t be a problem.” Varney continued with his meme that “we’re short of quality labor” to which Williams said that there is a shortage of labor at substandard rates.” Varney, increasingly irritated, retorted that the illegals are not being paid below minimum wage "in almost all instances” to which Williams said that “in some cases, they’re lucky to paid at all.” Unhappy with the resistance he was getting, Varney proclaimed “you are factually wrong.” To Banderas' question of whether the crack down would hurt businesses who rely on illegals, Williams said that the present system is driving honest businesses out of business.

Varney’s elitism was showing when, in response to Madison's contention that the homeless would work, he said that “quality labor is not to be found in homeless shelters.” Williams responded that Varney had a “plantation mentality” to which Varney took umbrage with “that is an insult, I am a legal immigrant and there is a shortage of quality labor.” After Madison accused Varney of having an “imperialist mentality” Varney sniffed that “you are picking up on my British accent and accusing me of being an imperialist.” (Comment: it’s not the accent, Stu, it’s the attitude.)

Williams (again to his credit) said that illegals are being victimized especially when their jobs end and they are forced to work in whorehouses and gangs. Madison concluded by referencing Cesar Chavez who “opposed illegal immigration in order to promote livable wages for legal immigrants who wanted to work.”

Comment: I was really surprised to see a Fox conservative guest discuss immigration in a manner free from the usual immigrant bashing. Williams certainly represents the Republican base who watch Fox as opposed to Varney who represents Fox’s Wall Street corporate pals. I find it fascinating to contrast the Hannity/Gibson/O’Reilly xenophobic position to Varney’s pro illegal immigration stance. While Fox bashes the immigrant community, it appears that they’re not so willing to bash employers who exploit these folks. Will Fox approve of big corporations being treated the same way that Sheriff Arpaio treats illegals who come into his county? But more importantly, will Fox allow the elite Stuart Varney to get pummeled by those who represent the not so elite?!

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla