Digital Challenges to Traditional News Media Models

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In Australia, and internationally, traditional or legacy print media is being challenged not by its importance in informing people e.g. during bushfires, Covid-19 crisis etc. but related challenges of economics, populist politics, innovation or lack of and now preferred use of digital channels and major social media like Facebook and Google by most people nowadays.

 

Following are excerpts from articles outlining challenges of populism, PR, social media or atomisation of channels, and possible solutions to support news, democracy, innovation and business models in a digital world.

 

From Inside Story Australia:

 

How disasters are shaping Australians’ news habits

 

A new study tracks the rise in news consumption during the bushfires and the pandemic — and finds a glimmer of hope for publishers.

 

In times of great uncertainty, readers and viewers will seek out reliable, accurate and up-to-date news — doubly so when their own safety and wellbeing are at stake. But will the news media continue to be there when they’re needed?

 

The latest Digital News Report: Australia, the sixth annual study of national news consumption trends, provides further evidence that Australians still rely on the news media — directly or indirectly — regardless of its financial difficulties…..

 

….News businesses, digital platforms and the government will need to reconsider how to maintain a healthy news ecosystem and keep citizens informed. Paying attention to what news consumers are telling us would be a good starting point.

 

Our survey confirmed that social media and search are now the two major pathways to online news, with a growing number of people accessing news through mobile alerts, newsletters and aggregator apps. News consumers are trying to find efficient ways to curate and organise the vast amount of news available to them. Rather than go directly to the news-brand websites themselves, audiences are increasingly relying on Google and Facebook to find what they want….

 

….But we know news media businesses are struggling to adapt to the digital environment, and we know they haven’t yet found a sustainable means of surviving.

 

From The Conversation Australia:

 

Media have helped create a crisis of democracy – now they must play a vital role in its revival

 

In May 2020, with the world still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, Margaret MacMillan, an historian at the University of Toronto, wrote an essay in The Economist about the possibilities for life after the pandemic had passed.

 

On a scale of one to ten, where one was utter despair and ten was cautious hopefulness, it would have rated about six. Her thesis was that the future will be decided by a fundamental choice between reform and calamity….

 

….She was writing against a backdrop of a larger crisis – the crisis in democracy. The most spectacular symptoms of this were the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the Brexit referendum. Both occurred in 2016, and both appealed to populism largely based on issues of race and immigration….

 

How the pandemic contracted the media landscape further

 

Alongside these developments, the existential crisis facing news media was made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. As business activity was brought to a stop by the lockdown, the need for advertising was drastically reduced.

 

Coming on top of the haemorrhaging of advertising revenue to social media over the previous 15 years, this proved fatal to some newspapers…..

 

Defending against the digital onslaught

 

At a national level, the Australian government took up a recommendation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to force the global platforms, particularly Facebook and Google, to pay for the news it took from Australian media….

 

Populism and scapegoating

 

A third factor in the crisis, exacerbated by the first two, is the rise of populism. Its defining characteristics are distrust of elites, negative stereotyping, the creation of a hated “other”, and scapegoating. The hated “other” has usually been defined in terms of race, colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion or some combination of them.

 

Powerful elements of the news media, most notably Fox News in the United States, Sky News in Australia and the Murdoch tabloids in Britain, have exploited and promoted populist sentiment……

 

From Mumbrella Australia:

 

Publishers: Stop expecting handouts from Facebook and Google, start innovating

 

 

Facebook and Google direct enormous volumes of traffic to news publishers. But instead of paying for the privilege, like other brands do, publishers expect to get paid. Simon Larcey says that instead of the ‘last-ditch, half-assed cash grab’, media companies need to, unsurprisingly, innovate….

 

……In a nutshell, this sums up the ludicrous move by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and local news publishers, which have demanded that Facebook and Google cough up cash for any news content that the digital giants share across their platforms. And with Google agreeing to play ball last week, it looks like these demands are being met.

 

While some might regard this move as a digital giant throwing a lifeline to a drowning local news industry, other, more cynically minded people – myself included – might see this a move as one developed by Google’s PR department to win the hearts and minds of stakeholders. Putting Google’s motives to one side, there’s a risk that this is yet another nail in the coffin, an admission of defeat by local publishers who are no longer able to successfully compete….

 

The problem with handouts

 

Welcome to 2020, and after years of lobbying, the government has decided that if the news publishers of Australia cannot build a sustainable digital advertising revenue model, the two tech platforms will be strong-armed into footing the bill……

 

…….The numbers from the digital giants are probably even larger today. At least 50% of all news traffic is directed to Australian news sites via third parties. If Australian news providers did not have these two platforms, their traffic would be cut in half, and they would generate half the ad revenue. Any brand or marketer wanting to get that type of traffic to their site would pay Facebook and Google big money – in fact they do – yet Australian publishers think they should be paid for the privilege. It makes no sense.

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, business communication, consumer behaviour, digital literacy, digital marketing, digital or e-consumer behaviour, media, political strategy, populist politics, social media marketing and WOM word of mouth.

 

History of Globalisation and 21st Century

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Globalisation has been more apparent in public, political and media narratives whether for economic or national reasons, mostly negative.  However, globalisation is a fact of life and can be positive for individuals, communities, sole traders, small and medium enterprises.

 

In fact, those promoting negatives of globalisation in favour of nativist policies, along with anti-immigration sentiment and antipathy towards educated elites, often have a need to manipulate ageing electorates.  This was seen with Brexit and Trump with the promotion of antipathy towards the EU European Union and multilateral trade agreements or trade blocs; giving advantage to existing global corporates avoiding regulation, taxation, competition and other constraints.

 

From The Mandarin Australia article excerpts from Peter Vanham is head of communications, Chair’s Office, World Economic Forum.

 

A brief history of globalisation

 

When Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2018 announced it had chosen the ancient city of Xi’an as the site for its new regional headquarters, the symbolic value wasn’t lost on the company: it had brought globalisation to its ancient birthplace, the start of the old Silk Road. It named its new offices aptly: “Silk Road Headquarters”. The city where globalisation had started more than 2,000 years ago would also have a stake in globalisation’s future.

 

Alibaba shouldn’t be alone in looking back. As we are entering a new, digital-driven era of globalisation — we call it “Globalisation 4.0” — it is worthwhile that we do the same. When did globalisation start? What were its major phases? And where is it headed tomorrow?

 

Silk roads (1st century BC-5th century AD, and 13th-14th centuries AD)

 

People have been trading goods for almost as long as they’ve been around. But as of the 1st century BC, a remarkable phenomenon occurred. For the first time in history, luxury products from China started to appear on the other edge of the Eurasian continent — in Rome. They got there after being hauled for thousands of miles along the Silk Road. Trade had stopped being a local or regional affair and started to become global.

 

Spice routes (7th-15th centuries)

 

The next chapter in trade happened thanks to Islamic merchants. As the new religion spread in all directions from its Arabian heartland in the 7th century, so did trade. The founder of Islam, the prophet Mohammed, was famously a merchant, as was his wife Khadija. Trade was thus in the DNA of the new religion and its followers, and that showed. By the early 9th century, Muslim traders already dominated Mediterranean and Indian Ocean trade; afterwards, they could be found as far east as Indonesia, which over time became a Muslim-majority country, and as far west as Moorish Spain.

 

Age of Discovery (15th-18th centuries)

 

Truly global trade kicked off in the Age of Discovery. It was in this era, from the end of the 15th century onwards, that European explorers connected East and West — and accidentally discovered the Americas. Aided by the discoveries of the so-called “Scientific Revolution” in the fields of astronomy, mechanics, physics and shipping, the Portuguese, Spanish and later the Dutch and the English first “discovered”, then subjugated, and finally integrated new lands in their economies.

 

First wave of globalisation (19th century-1914)

 

This started to change with the first wave of globalisation, which roughly occurred over the century ending in 1914. By the end of the 18th century, Great Britain had started to dominate the world both geographically, through the establishment of the British Empire, and technologically, with innovations like the steam engine, the industrial weaving machine and more. It was the era of the First Industrial Revolution.

 

The world wars

 

It was a situation that was bound to end in a major crisis, and it did. In 1914, the outbreak of World War I brought an end to just about everything the burgeoning high society of the West had gotten so used to, including globalisation. The ravage was complete. Millions of soldiers died in battle, millions of civilians died as collateral damage, war replaced trade, destruction replaced construction, and countries closed their borders yet again.

 

Second and third wave of globalisation

 

The story of globalisation, however, was not over. The end of the World War II marked a new beginning for the global economy. Under the leadership of a new hegemon, the United States of America, and aided by the technologies of the Second Industrial Revolution, like the car and the plane, global trade started to rise once again. At first, this happened in two separate tracks, as the Iron Curtain divided the world into two spheres of influence. But as of 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell, globalisation became a truly global phenomenon.

 

Globalisation 4.0

 

That brings us to today, when a new wave of globalisation is once again upon us. In a world increasingly dominated by two global powers, the US and China, the new frontier of globalisation is the cyber world. The digital economy, in its infancy during the third wave of globalisation, is now becoming a force to reckon with through e-commerce, digital services, 3D printing. It is further enabled by artificial intelligence, but threatened by cross-border hacking and cyberattacks.

 

Technological progress, like globalisation, is something you can’t run away from, it seems. But it is ever changing. So how will Globalisation 4.0 evolve? We will have to answer that question in the coming years….

 

From The Lowy Institute:

 

Globalisation Is Still Not A Bad Thing

 

Originally published in the Australian Financial Review by Natasha Kassam

 

COVID-19 signals the end of peak globalisation. Borders have hardened. Tourism has withered. Medical supplies have been blocked at ports. Citizens have been prioritised while foreigners were sent home.

 

Globalisation has been much maligned in recent years – already struck by the financial crisis and the US-China trade war. Growing hostility towards global institutions and trade competition has characterised politics of several countries. And with concern about so-called globalism came attacks on the so-called globalists: “The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots,” said President Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly last year.

 

Australians, by contrast, have remained largely immune to these trends. New Lowy Institute polling finds seven in 10 Australians say globalisation is mostly good for our country, unchanged from 2019. While the United States has succumbed to protectionism and negativity towards migrants, Australians have remained supportive of free trade. Anti-migration sentiment has always lurked in Australia, but years of polling show that most Australians agree that immigration makes our country stronger and wealthier and contributes to our national character.

 

Ongoing struggles in Australia’s relationship with China, our largest trading partner, could fuel further distrust of globalisation. Disputes over beef and barley exports could just be the beginning. Most Australians already say we are too economically dependent on China, and the recent ambiguous threats of economic coercion against Australian exports will only deepen that concern.

 

Globalisation may have been dealt a grave blow by this virus, and Australia can’t save it alone. As a trading nation, that only succeeds by embracing globalisation – even the devastation of COVID-19 hasn’t yet shaken our fundamentals. It may well do so, deep into a global economic slowdown. But to date, Australians have leaned into their national character, and continued to show resilience in the face of populism and protectionism.

 

For more blogs and articles about the Asian Century, Australian politics, business strategy, economics, EU European Union, global trade, populist politics and white nationalism click through.

 

Anglosphere Libertarianism in US, Australia and UK Tories with Dominic Cummings

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We have observed Anglospehere conservative politics being taken over by radical right libertarianism in the US, UK and Australia, entwined with eugenics or xenophobia manifested by white nationalists and neo liberal policies; the Conservative Party in the UK suffers the same presently with Dominic Cummings in the limelight.

 

Facilitated by key individuals such as Dominic Cummings, Steve Bannon, et al. via media, PR and strategists including or via Murdoch’s NewsCorp, Crosby Textor, Cambridge Analytica et al., informed by libertarian think tanks like Koch Atlas Network influenced by Nobel Prize winning economist James Buchanan, behind the Austrian and Chicago Schools (along with Hayek, Friedman, Rand et al.).

 

For example there are Atlas links between ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council, IPA Institute of Public Affairs (Australia) and IEA Institute of Economic Affairs (UK) promoting strong neo-liberal ideas including smaller government and lower taxes.

 

This is in parallel with promotion of immigration restrictions linked to ideas and tactics of the late John Tanton e.g. ZPG Zero Population Growth, TSCP The Social Contract Press, FAIR Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, Sustainable Australia, Population Matters and Migration Watch UK; maybe coincidence but only one or no degree of separation between them (privately or publicly)?

 

Brexit may have been about antipathy towards Europe, immigrants and nostalgia for a greater Britain but for many, mostly in the background, it was radical right libertarianism avoiding trade and other regulations, helped along by the Leave campaign:

 

The real reason we should fear the work of Dominic Cummings

 

Carole Cadwalladr
Downing Street’s controversial top adviser faces new accusations of poisoning politics, but his true nature was clear during Vote Leave’s Brexit triumph.

 

On 2 March 2017, shortly after my first major article on Cambridge Analytica was published, a furious tweeter appeared in my timeline: “1/ big @Guardian by @carolecadwalla on Mercer/Cambridge Analytica = full of errors & itself spreads disinformation.”

 

It marked the moment that Dominic Cummings entered my life – though at the time I had no idea who he was. At that time few people did. Cummings was the dark horse, known to just a few Westminster insiders, who had stealthily steered Vote Leave to victory in June 2016 while the rest of us were looking the other way.

 

But that is no longer the case. In the past two weeks, he has emerged from the shadows and burned himself on to the nation’s consciousness. As Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, he’s helped mastermind some of the most audacious – and outrageous – moves ever committed by a British prime minister: an attempt to suspend parliament, and the expulsion of 21 moderate MPs from the Conservative party. Moves that led the mild man of British politics, the former prime minister John Major, to call him a “political anarchist” who was “poisoning politics”.

 

From Politico

 

British PM’s special adviser inspires greater loyalty among many key officials than Johnson does.

 

By CHARLIE COOPER AND EMILIO CASALICCHIO 5/26/20, 9:45 PM CET Updated 5/31/20, 1:04 AM CET

 

LONDON — Never mind whether Boris Johnson should get rid of Dominic Cummings, the real question is whether he can.

 

To the U.K. prime minister, his top aide — whose lockdown journey from London to Durham has dominated headlines for days — is more than just an effective political adviser. He is the lynchpin of the Downing Street operation; someone who — according to several people who have worked with the two men in and out of government — gives Johnson policy direction and operational grip, while commanding more loyalty among a number of key officials and ministers than the prime minister does himself.

 

From The New Yorker

 

New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit

 

By Jane Mayer

 

The possibility that Brexit and the Trump campaign relied on some of the same advisers to further far-right nationalist campaigns has set off alarm bells on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

For two years, observers have speculated that the June, 2016, Brexit campaign in the U.K. served as a petri dish for Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign in the United States. Now there is new evidence that it did. Newly surfaced e-mails show that the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and Cambridge Analytica, the Big Data company that he worked for at the time, were simultaneously incubating both nationalist political movements in 2015……

 

There are direct links between the political movements behind Brexit and Trump. We’ve got to recognise the bigger picture here. This is being coordinated across national borders by very wealthy people in a way we haven’t seen before.”

 

Bannon has been strongly influenced by Jean Raspail’s dystopian novel ‘Camp of the Saints’, from The Huffington Post:

 

This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World.

 

“The Camp of the Saints” tells a grotesque tale about a migrant invasion to destroy Western civilization.

 

The same author Raspail had been interviewed by Australian academic Dr. Katherine Betts (collaborator with Dr. Robert Birrell deemed ‘Australia’s best demographer’ by Sustainable Population Australia patron Dick Smith and cited frequently by mainstream media in Australia as an expert on immigration) in John Tanton’s TSCP:

A Conversation With Jean Raspail‘ reprint from original 1994-95

Not only is Tanton intimately linked with founding TSCP but had also crossed paths with others of note at the Koch’s ‘bill mill’ ALEC including Heritage Foundation’s Weyrich, Falwell of the Christian Nationalist right and the deep pocketed Mercers, along with others,’wheels within wheels’?

 

Three right-wing organizations founded nearly forty years ago by conservative activist Paul Weyrich are rediscovering their shared origins. The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of 169 right-wing Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, is establishing a partnership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the controversial “corporate bill mill” for state legislators

 

ALEC & SLLI – “Bipartisan” Bigotry. There appears to be a dirty little secret lurking in the halls and cocktail parties of the of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meetings – overt racism…..The John Tanton Network and the Anti-Immigrant Movement in America.
One man is at the heart of the most influential network of anti-immigrant groups in the country. This man, John H. Tanton, has created an empire of organizations populated by lobbyists, lawyers, legislators, and “experts” that have permeated the very depths of America’s social and political debate on immigration.

 

What appears to the public as myriad separate voices all advocating for one cause, i.e. severe immigration enforcement, is nothing more than a facade, a collection of craftily constructed front groups, faux-”coalitions,” and spin-offs that are collectively unified in their goal to overwhelm any reasonable debate on immigration with their branded worldview of bigotry.

 

This collective is known as the John Tanton Network.’

 

The Alt-Right and the 1%.  When President Trump equated white supremacists with anti-racism protesters, he was sending a message to the thugs in the streets and to some in executive suites…. ….Mercer, the co-CEO of the $50 billion Renaissance Technologies hedge fund, is also one of three owners of Breitbart News, the outlet Trump strategist (and former Breitbart editor) Steve Bannon has described as a “platform for the alt-right.”

 

With Mercer’s financial support, Breitbart has become a significant media force. While readership is down from its peak during the election campaign, the site attracted 11 million unique visitors in May of this year.

 

Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled White Nationalism Into The Mainstream. A cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals the truth about Steve Bannon’s alt-right “killing machine.” In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that “there’s no room in American society” for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

 

But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website.’

 

One Man Created a Bunch of Hate Groups. Now, Those Hate Groups Are Dug in With the Trump Administration….Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President, was the CEO of Breitbart, which frequently reports on the Tanton network’s “research” and gives column space to Tanton allies. Bannon’s favorite book, a racist French novel, was published in English by another of Tanton’s organizations.

 

The deep connections that Tanton’s anti-immigrant network has in the Trump Administration is concerning in its own right; but the immediate and long term effects of its influence on policy will continue to be devastating for the lives of countless immigrants. Under the Trump Administration, CIS, FAIR, NumbersUSA, and the rest of the Tanton network have more power than ever — and they’re using it to reshape American immigration policy, possible for decades to come.’

 

Britain’s Steve Bannon Is Tearing Boris Johnson’s Tories Apart…….Just six weeks later, Cummings is in the limelight as the new hate figure in British politics and the man many Conservatives blame for wrecking their party and pushing the country into chaos all in the name of delivering Brexit.’

 

Conservatives in the USA, UK and Australian politics should be concerned as their respective parties are being torn apart by radical right libertarian driven white nationalism and populist politics.

Impact of EU Regulations and Standards on Global Markets

The Brussels Effect – The EU’s Impact upon Global Markets

In her important new book, Columbia Law professor Anu Bradford argues the EU remains an influential superpower that shapes the world in its image. By promulgating regulations that shape the international business environment, elevating standards worldwide, and leading to a notable Europeanization of many important aspects of global commerce, the EU has managed to shape policy in areas such as data privacy, consumer health and safety, environmental protection, antitrust, and online hate speech.

 

The Brussels Effect shows how the EU has acquired such power, why multinational companies use EU standards as global standards, and why the EU’s role as the world’s regulator is likely to outlive its gradual economic decline, extending the EU’s influence long into the future.

 

From Politico EU on The Brussels Effect:
THE BRUSSELS EFFECT: Anu Bradford, a professor at Columbia Law School, wrote the book on EU influence — literally. In early 2020, she published “The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World.” It details how the European Union manages to unilaterally regulate the global market.

 

“All the EU needs to do is to regulate [its internal] single market, and it is then the global companies that globalize those EU rules,” she told me during a pre-coronavirus trip to Brussels in early March. The most obvious example of this phenomenon, she said, is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

 

Global influence: As international awareness of the EU’s regulatory power has grown, there’s been “a massive increase in the presence of foreign companies in Brussels” and their efforts to lobby institutions, said Bradford. “Because when you think about it, if you manage to influence the regulatory process in the EU, you can influence the regulations across the world.”

 

Despite the increased international lobbying effort, “we don’t see that lobbying [has] led to weak regulations,” according to Bradford. She contrasts this with the U.S. where corporate influence often undermines U.S. regulations. She chalks up this difference to the comparatively stronger influence of civil society in the legislative and rule-making process in the EU.

 

Bradford said this leads to “a more balanced outcome in the end, but certainly there is an awareness and attempt on behalf of the corporations to influence the outcomes.”

 

Civil society strength: Alberto Alemanno, founder of civil society NGO The Good Lobby, offers a slightly different view. He says that corporate influence in the EU, as well as the U.S., “is on average more successful in bureaucratic arenas” compared to NGOs and citizen groups. But, he added, “the different role EU civil society plays in shaping policymaking may have more to do with institutional features (EU technocratic apparatus’ incentives to engage with civil society, European Parliament’s increased power, lesser role of money in politics) than with NGOs’ inherent strength.”

 

And what about the coronavirus? Of course, Bradford’s “Brussels effect” will be tested by the pandemic. She believes that “unless globalization comes to a drastic halt (which it likely will not), the Brussels Effect will continue,” she wrote to me more recently via email.

 

But she is monitoring a few developments. This includes whether the crisis leads to more or less regulation, depending on whether there is an appetite for more or less EU after things settle down.

 

She also believes the technocratic nature of EU rule-making “insulates it to some degree from the crises.” But the uncertainty and disruption “will likely slow down the regulatory process in the immediate future.” This includes the EU’s new digital strategy, where the crisis may force officials to rethink its regulation of data and technology more broadly.

 

For more related blogs and articles on the EU European Union, economics, environment,  digital marketing and the EU GDPR click through.

Trump’s White House Immigration Policies and White Nationalist John Tanton

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The aggressive anti-immigration sentiment and policies that are promoted by governments in the US, UK and Australia are not new and have been in the making for generations, John Tanton described as the ‘most influential unknown man in America’ appears central in modern day manifestations. A long game in the same eco system as radical right libertarians, evangelical conservative Christians, eco-fascists, eugenicists, autarkist proponents, climate science denialism and white nationalists, weaponised by deep pocketed philanthropists and ideologues, many of the same highlighted in research by Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’ and Nancy MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’.

 

The fulcrum of these seemingly unrelated entities, donors and operators revolves round the likes of John Tanton, James Buchanan, Paul Ehrlich, Paul Weyrich, Rockefeller Bros. Foundation (more in the past? and related fossil fuel players in addition to ExxonMobil), Colcom (Mellon Scaife), Kochs, then organisations they spawned such as ZPG Zero Population Growth, Club of Rome (‘Limits to Growth’), Heritage Foundation, Cato, Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, ‘bill mill’ ALEC, FAIR, CIS Center for Immigration Studies, The Social Contract Press, and elsewhere including university academia. In Australia this includes Sustainable (Population) Australia, former head of Monash University based CUPR, demographer Dr. Bob Birrell (contributed to Tanton’s Social Contract Press), IPA Institute of Public Affairs (in Koch’s Atlas Network) and in the UK IEA Institute of Economic Affairs (Atlas Network), Population Matters UK ( Pa patronaul Ehrlich) and Migration Watch UK (linked to Tanton’s CIS).

From SPLC:

HATEWATCH – John Tanton’s Legacy – July 18, 2019

Swathi Shanmugasundaram
John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement, has left behind a legacy that spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations, driven an anti-immigrant agenda for four decades, and found friends in the White House.

 

Tanton created groups that billed themselves as fact-based think tanks and lobbyists. Instead, those groups spread propaganda targeting immigrants that has become central to President Trump’s immigration policy.

 

Tanton, 85, died Tuesday in Petoskey, Michigan. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an SPLC-designated hate group that Tanton launched in 1979, announced his death in a press release.

 

Tanton’s anti-immigrant influence goes far beyond FAIR. He founded or funded 13 anti-immigrant organizations, including three of the most influential anti-immigrant groups in the United States – FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA – known as the “Big Three.”

 

These groups spoke at congressional briefings and provided media interviews with mainstream outlets such as the Associated Press and The New York Times, all the while couching their racism in more palatable terms.

 

John Tanton’s anti-immigrant legacy spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations.

 

The Big Three also have close connections with a number of people in the Trump administration. As the president ramps up his anti-immigrant policies, extremists from Tanton’s network are finding positions of authority within the administration.

 

Tanton’s views were first revealed when a series of private memos he wrote to leaders of FAIR were leaked to the press. In an October 1986 memo he wrote, “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

 

FAIR, the action arm of the movement, regularly deploys its employees to lobby legislators to introduce anti-immigrant legislation in state legislatures nationwide. Its lobbying efforts to repeal birthright citizenship and ban sanctuary law span decades.

 

FAIR’s self-described mission is to reduce overall immigration and has big allies in, or connected to, the White House. Allies include former employees Julie Kirchner, who now serves as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ombudsman, John Zadrozny, an official at the State Department, and Ian Smith. Smith had stints at the State Department and Domestic Policy Council but ultimately had to resign in August 2018 after leaked emails tied him to white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor.

 

Center for Immigration Studies, the think tank of the movement run by Mark Krikorian, regularly publishes discredited reports about immigrants. CIS reports have been widely criticized and debunked by groups such as the Immigration Policy Center and the CATO Institute. Still, the hate group has gained legitimacy in Trump’s administration.

 

In early 2017, Stephen Miller, a senior advisor in the White House, cited a CIS study in defending Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. “First of all, 72 individuals, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, have been implicated in terroristic activity in the United States who hail from those seven nations, point one,” Miller said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Fact-checkers at The Washington Post debunked this talking point.

 

In April 2016, CIS published a “wish list” of policies, many of which have been implemented by the Trump administration. These policies range from terminating the diversity visa lottery program, to refugee admissions. In September 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the lowest refugee cap since the passage of the Refugee Act in 2018.

 

Krikorian appears in the press and on television programs ranging from Fox & Friends, where he spoke about immigration with former ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, to C-SPAN, where he defended the inclusion of material from the white nationalist site VDARE in CIS’s weekly newsletter.

 

VDARE is an anti-immigration, white nationalist hate site founded by Peter Brimelow “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century.” Brimelow says VDARE.com was an idea that “flowed out of the best-selling book I wrote back in 1995, Alien Nation,” an anti-immigrant book about Brimelow’s perspective on how the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 changed the United States. According to a Nov. 2, 1995, memo by Tanton, he “encouraged Brimelow to write his book,” and “provided the necessary research funds to get it done.” On July 17, 2019, Brimelow tweeted, “Very sad to hear of John Tanton’s passing – great immigration patriot. ‘Truly a citizen who has taken up arms for his country,’ in Robert E. Lee’s phrase.” He linked to a VDARE article about Tanton’s legacy.

 

NumbersUSA is the grassroots organizer of the anti-immigrant movement. The group sends action alerts urging its followers to contact their representatives in support of anti-immigrant legislation. Roy Beck, the executive director of the organization, has tried to distance the group and himself from Tanton and his legacy. However, in a memo, Tanton wrote Beck asking him to sign on as his “ heir apparent” in the case of his death and thanked him the next day, Jan. 6, 1998, for doing so.

 

Beck was also a longtime editor for Tanton’s The Social Contract Press (TSCP), a white nationalist group that publishes articles written by white nationalists. In 1994, while Beck was still an employee, TSCP published an English translation of the openly racist French book, The Camp of the Saints. Tanton wrote that he was “honored” to republish the novel.

 

Tanton was critical to securing initial funding for a number of these organizations, including by introducing leaders of FAIR to the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund’s original mandate was to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic stock of those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.” Tanton himself said in 1993, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

 

These groups still are able to thrive thanks to grantmakers including the Colcom Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Political Research Associates published a report this year detailing more than $100 million being given to FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA alone from 2006 – 2016. Other groups within this network, including Californians for Population Stabilization and Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR’s legal arm, boast more than $7 million each during this same period.

 

Tanton’s legacy is difficult to overstate. Other groups within the network also are experiencing mainstream success. ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant hate group that lobbies for English only legislation and policies across the country, met with Trump and aides to Vice President Mike Pence multiple times in 2018 and as recently as July 11 of this year. Executive director Stephen Guschov recounted the last meeting in a blog post. He said it was about, “official English legislation and to continue to advocate for President Trump to sign a new Executive Order to effectively repeal and replace former President Clinton’s onerous Executive Order 13166 that requires foreign language translations and interpretations for all federally funded agencies and contractors.” ProEnglish’s former executive director is Robert “Bob” Vandervoort, who is also the former head of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance. That group is a satellite for white nationalist hate group American Renaissance.

 

Tanton’s influence is seen in state legislatures, and especially at the federal level, where his mentees and allies have imbibed his material, enacted his policies, and sold a rehabbed version of Tanton, critically leaving out his explicitly racist views.

 

On July 17, FAIR president Dan Stein published a press release, calling Tanton “a selfless giver of his time and talents in the interests of a better tomorrow.” He added, “For John, the big reward was to see a number of the organizations he helped conceive grow into tall oaks – guiding and shaping the public discourse in history-changing ways.”

 

Leaders of groups within Tanton’s network regularly obfuscate Tanton’s racist views or their connections to Tanton himself. In a spring 2018 edition of The Social Contract Press, Tanton wrote a blog directly attempting to do the same with NumbersUSA and CIS. He wrote:

 

NumbersUSA, an organization I helped start, but on whose board I do not serve, has also made stellar contributions to the immigration reform debate. I also helped raise a grant in 1985 for the Center for Immigration Studies, but I have played no role in the Center’s growth or development.

 

In September 1986, a year after CIS was founded as a project of FAIR, it became independent, but the relationship with Tanton was far from over. The same year, Tanton wrote a memo discussing the need to get CIS properly functioning: “We need to get CIS fully funded and entrenched as a major Washington think-tank, one that can venture into issues, which FAIR is not yet ready to raise.” Eight years later, in 1994, Tanton wrote that he still was setting “the proper roles for FAIR and CIS.”

 

Jared Taylor, the white nationalist who created American Renaissance, was a close friend of Tanton.

 

During the latest episode of Taylor’s podcast, “Radio Renaissance,” he mourned Tanton’s death, praising him as a man who “became very concerned about the demographic future of the United States.” His pseudonymous cohost, Paul Kersey, hailed Tanton’s legacy through the groups he founded that ensured “these ideas would flourish.” Taylor added: “Everything I know about immigration I learned from CIS.”

 

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