Yesterday on Fox and Friends Elisabeth Hasselbeck conducted an interview with Midland County, Texas Sheriff Gary Painter (decked out in an elaborate cowboy hat) who warned of “Muslims” sneaking across the border from Mexico into Texas.
Hasselbeck asked the Sheriff:
“Are you saying that ISIS is ready to come across poised to perhaps execute what they have threatened to do, attacks on the United States, drown us in our own blood?” Is that what you’re saying?”
[Wow. Drown us in our own blood, via Mexico. If the Fox and Friends audience hadn’t already pissed themselves at that, what the Sheriff said next would accomplish that.]
“I’m saying the border is wide open,” Painter replied. “We have found copies, or people along the border, have found Muslim clothing, they have found Quran books that are laying on the side of the trail. So we know that there are Muslims that have come across, have been smuggled in the United States.”
It gets better. Hasselbeck asked the Sheriff what he thought our response should be.
“If they show their ugly heads in our area, we’ll send them to hell,” Painter said. “I think the United States needs to get busy and they need to bomb them. They need to take them out. I would like for them to hit them so hard and so often that every time they hear a propeller on a plane or a jet aircraft engine that they urinate down both legs.”
Of course the Sheriff offered no real evidence of them showing their “ugly heads”, or of finding Qurans or Muslim clothing, but this is the Fox News Channel-evidence isn’t compulsory. There’s no proof that ISIS is planning to enter the United States through Mexico, and there’s no indication they’re even operating outside of the Syria/Iraq region. But a guy with a Texas drawl in a cowboy hat told them so, so it must be so.
But it’s not just sheriffs in cowboy hats. Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) warned of ISIS coming through the border in front of conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. The Governor wasn’t able to provide any evidence to back up this claim. Four years ago Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) gave an interview on (guess where?) Fox News where she claimed there were beheadings in the Arizona desert, which got her a “pants on fire” rating from Politifact.
This is fear-mongering, pure and simple. It’s a way to elicit an emotional response and manipulate people, some of whom can be easily led. “Quran books” and “Muslim clothing” are going to elicit that response, and then your grandma is going to call and urge you to postpone that trip to south Texas, you know, to avoid all those ISIS members who are wandering around in broad daylight at the border.
It’s an effective tool of people who hold elected office. Sometimes to get things they want, but more often than not to paint their opponent as weak and feckless. They will protect you. Their opponent will not. It’s been known to work, whether running for president, governor, congress, or even sheriff (which is an elected office).
The people who rant about this nonsense are given a platform to do so on a number of the programs on the Fox News Channel, with the hosts nodding their head in agreement and often times spewing their own fact-free foolishness. These things take hold. They fly around social media. Some of their viewers don’t get information from any other source, because they were told by their source that everyone else is lying to them, and you can’t trust the “liberal media.” Therefore,what’s said is gospel, and when it’s confirmed as being not true, they don’t hear about it. They’re nicely encapsulated in the bubble. Facts bounce right off the bubble.
Fox News: please, STAHP!
See for yourself: