Fox exploited Kate Steinle’s death for political gain. Now, the network is in a bind.

December 3 | Posted by Rich Culbertson | Media Feeds

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Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Undocumented immigrant accused of murdering Kate Steinle found not guilty

NY Times: Jose Ines Garcia Zarate “was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges … in the killing of Kathryn Steinle.” The New York Times reported on November 30 that a jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate “of murder and manslaughter charges … in the killing of Kathryn Steinle.” Garcia Zarate was also “found not guilty of assault with a firearm.”Garcia Zarate had “acknowledged firing the weapon, but said it was an accident.” He was convicted of “being a felon in possession of a firearm.” From the November 30 report:

An undocumented Mexican immigrant was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges on Thursday in the killing of Kathryn Steinle, whose death while out walking on a San Francisco pier became a touchstone in the national debate over immigration fueled by Donald J. Trump.

The man, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, who was also found not guilty of assault with a firearm, was convicted only of being a felon in possession of a firearm after a trial that lasted more than five weeks. His sentence could range from 16 months to three years. Mr. Zarate has already spent more than two years in county jail awaiting trial. A sentencing date had not yet been set.

[…]

Ms. Steinle, known as Kate, a 32-year-old medical equipment saleswoman, was walking along Pier 14 in San Francisco when she was struck by a bullet and collapsed into her father’s arms. Mr. Garcia Zarate acknowledged firing the weapon, but said it was an accident.

Evidence was presented in court that the bullet had ricocheted before striking Ms. Steinle. [The New York Times, 11/30/17]

Fox News has incessantly exploited Steinle’s death to portray undocumented immigrants as criminals and push its anti-immigrant agenda

Bill O’Reilly used Steinle’s death to propose “Kate’s Law,” an anti-immigrant bill that passed in the House of Representatives. Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly dedicated significant airtime to discussing Steinle’s tragic death, using it as justification to pass legislation, which he dubbed “Kate’s Law,” that would impose harsher sentencing for those who have entered the country illegally and been convicted of crimes. After failing to pass in 2015 and 2016, the House of Representatives passed the legislation in June. It has not yet been taken up for a vote in the Senate. [Media Matters, 6/29/17, 6/30/16, 10/21/15, 10/8/15; The Hill, 6/29/17]

Steve Doocy argued that Steinle’s death vindicated then-candidate Trump’s racist attacks on undocumented immigrants. In 2015, Fox host Steve Doocy suggested that the shooting vindicated then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s staunchly anti-immigrant agenda, saying that Garcia Zarate “was not supposed to be in the United States. And you know, whether you like Donald Trump or you don’t like Donald Trump, he’s talking about this particular issue, about our southern border and how, you know, something’s got to be done.” [Media Matters, 7/6/15]

Jesse Watters: “The left will memorialize someone … like a Mike Brown, but then they’ll ignore someone like Kate Steinle.” During a panel discussion of Kate’s Law in June, Fox host Jesse Watters complained that “the left … will ignore someone like a Kate Steinle” because it does not fit their agenda. [Fox News, The Five, 6/28/17]

Meghan McCain agreed that sanctuary cities have “the blood of dead Americans on their hands,” referencing Kate Steinle. On the April 27 edition of Outnumbered, then-Fox co-host Meghan McCain referenced Kate Steinle to cast so-called sanctuary cities as dangerous and to defend then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that sanctuary cities have the “blood of dead Americans on their hands”:

SANDRA SMITH (CO-HOST): But Meghan, did the White House go too far when we just heard Sean Spicer say, “The blood of dead Americans on their hands,” referencing San Francisco?

MEGHAN MCCAIN (CO-HOST): No. I think you have got to see Kate Steinle’s family and people like that. And I think if you are someone living in Malibu, living in a sanctuary city, it feels like people can break laws of any kind, and there will be no ramifications. And I do think it’s a very slippery slope, and we don’t know where it ends. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 4/27/17]

Ainsley Earhardt suggested a sanctuary city is “putting its legal residents, its American citizens, at risk,” later invoking Kate Steinle’s death. On the March 22 edition of Fox Friends, Fox host Ainsley Earhardt brought up “Kate Steinle’s killer” in a discussion over sanctuary cities, which she had said may be “putting its legal residents, its American citizens, at risk.”. [Fox News, Fox Friends, 3/22/17]

John Roberts: “Kate Steinle was mercilessly gunned down in San Francisco.” Reporting on Kate’s Law in June, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts took the case out of context, saying that “Kate Steinle … was mercilessly gunned down in San Francisco.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/29/17]

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