Conservative media, and Fox News in particular, has spent the past few weeks ramping up hysteria over the caravan of Central American migrants headed to the southern U.S. border — and the man who killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend was listening.
A CNN review of Fox News coverage on the topic and the shooter’s online postings revealed that both deemed the migrant caravan an “invasion.”
> The suspect, Robert Bowers, complained about immigrant "invaders" six days before the shooting.
> While there is no such invasion happening, this rhetoric has blanketed right-wing media in relation to the Central American migrant caravan that's been in the news this month.
> And Bowers apparently noticed. On October 21, he wrote on Gab, "I have noticed a change in people saying 'illegals' that now say 'invaders'. I like this."
> It may never be known where he heard this hateful language. But a review of television and online content shows how "invasion" and "invaders" became a talking point in October -- not just in the darkest corners of the web, but on Fox's prime time shows. The network's rivals CNN and MSNBC used "invasion" in the context of explaining the right-wing narrative.
CNN reported that Fox News had used the term “invasion” to describe the caravan more than 60 times and the word “invaders” on more than a dozen occasions.
On Fox Business, the word “invasion” was tossed about more than 75 times.
> Fox's Tucker Carlson referenced an "invasion" as early as October 16.
> Eleven days later, on October 27, minutes before entering the Tree of Life synagogue, the suspect wrote another post about "invaders" and said "I'm going in," seemingly linking his anti-immigrant attitudes to his attack on the synagogue.
While other conservative outlets and personalities also used such language in discussing the migrant caravan, CNN noted that Fox News by far claims the greatest reach.
And there was little resistance to the chosen narrative Fox News:
> Afternoon anchor Shep Smith, a lone Fox voice who spoke out against the rhetoric used by his colleagues, told viewers on October 23, "The president has called it an ASSAULT on the US border. It is absolutely not."
> On his phone, he read a tweet from a viewer who told him, "Sorry, Shep. We are not falling for your fake story. This is an invasion."
> Smith tried to tell her that Trump was preying on her fears.