Latinos want bias probe of Fox, talk radio

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Columnists

Latino groups Wednesday blamed a surge in hate crimes against Hispanics on harmful stereotypes portrayed on TV and in conservative media and are asking the administration to probe Fox News and talk radio, two media cited by the groups as the worst perpetrators.

"We want the government to investigate this," said Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. "Unless we start this dialogue, these assaults will go on," he said, citing a surge in hate crimes against Hispanics.

Also charging Fox News and talk radio with portraying Hispanics poorly, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the administration should provide "protection from the stimuli that is being promoted out there that is causing the correlation between violence, stereotyping and the increasing racism in this country against Latinos."

News industry insiders, however, noted that Fox has a sister division, Fox Latino, which was recently lauded by NPR. Fox also has several Hispanic hosts.

Francisco Cortes of Fox News Latino told Secrets, "The poll is yet another example of publicity hounds in action and they're clearly unaware of the existence of Fox News Latino."

Nogales said his group has been measuring media bias against Latinos since 2008 and now he feels it's time for the government to step in. To back up his claim and provide the Federal Communications Commission with ammo to use against news outlets, Nogales commissioned polling from Latino Decisions to test American views of Hispanics.

In one survey of stereotypes held by 900 non-Latinos, 88 percent said that Hispanics take jobs from Americans, 92 percent said they refuse to learn English and 80 percent believe Hispanics are on welfare. When asked how Latinos are portrayed in TV and film roles, 71 percent said as a criminal and 64 percent as a gardener.

Another survey asked Fox, NPR, MSNBC CNN and talk radio fans about Hispanics. Fox viewers accepted the most stereotypes of Hispanics, MSNBC the least. They also compared Fox's Bill O'Reilly and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's viewers and found that half of O'Reilly's watchers "think Latinos are on welfare and refuse to learn English."

The 80-page poll and analysis concluded that "conservative talk radio and Fox News audiences hold significantly more anti-immigrant and anti-Latino opinions."

Matt Barreto, of Latino Decisions, said that the FCC should chart Hispanic stereotypes in the news. "There is a role for more monitoring," he said.