Bogus story about veterans being displaced for immigrants

It is astonishing the extent that right wingers will go to in their efforts to make like difficult for immigrants by undermining efforts to treat them humanely.

Take for example the situation in New York when the mayor of New York City bused a small group of immigrants to a suburban hotel in order to ease the pressure on the city’s homeless shelters.

A nonprofit group then alleged that nearly two dozen homeless veterans had been ousted from the hotel in order to house the immigrants. This immediately touched the nerves of xenophobes, anti-immigrants, and military-fetishists. The idea that veterans should be displaced to make room for undeserving furriners was picked up by Republican politicians and the echo chamber of right wing cable news networks and made into a huge story.

The uproar began after New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, bused a small group of asylum seekers to a suburban hotel as the city’s homeless shelter system struggled to accommodate an influx of migrants from the U.S. border with Mexico.

The group’s transfer prompted a political backlash from Republican county officials, who accused the mayor of trying to offload his problems on unprepared communities.

Then, the founder of a small charity in the area added an explosive claim: To make way for the migrants, a hotel in Newburgh, New York, evicted nearly two dozen homeless veterans.

That story, told by Yerik Israel Toney Foundation chief executive Sharon Toney-Finch, was picked up May 12 by The New York Post and quickly followed by Fox News, Newsmax and other conservative news outlets. The Post on Friday published a follow-up story reporting on the latest development.

“Our veterans have been placed in another hotel due to what’s going on with the immigrants,” Toney-Finch told the Post in its initial story, saying her group had made arrangements to find alternative lodging. “We didn’t waste any time.”

State Assemblyman Brian Maher, a Republican, introduced legislation that would prohibit the displacement of homeless veterans. In an appearance on Fox News, he called the purported evictions an “absolute embarrassment on all fronts.”

Then a small local newspaper the Mid Hudson News looked into this and found cracks in the story.

The managers of the hotel told the paper the story wasn’t true. A receipt purporting to show that the Crossroads Hotel had been paid $37,800 to house the veterans appeared to have been sloppily doctored.

In a follow-up report Friday, the Mid-Hudson News reported that several men staying at a homeless shelter in Poughkeepsie, New York, had come forward to say they were recruited to pretend they were among the veterans kicked out of the hotel. The paper quoted some of the men as saying they were offered $200, food and alcohol to take part in the ruse.

They said they met with Toney-Finch, then participated in a meeting at a veterans center in Orange County with local chamber of commerce officials.

Now there are calls for an inquiry into the hoax.

One Republican lawmaker in New York who helped spread the story is now calling for an investigation, saying he and others were duped.

“The YIT Foundation purports to protect and support veterans, but the dishonest claims and fabrication of the facts by YIT does enormous harm to our homeless veterans by creating mistrust,” Maher said, referring to the foundation by its shortened name. “I am calling for an immediate investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office and the Orange County District Attorney into the YIT Foundation based on the new information that came to light today.”

“While I believed Sharon was telling the truth, I do want to apologize for those that have been negatively impacted since this news broke,” he added.

New York City’s mayor also called for an investigation into what he called a “fraudulent claim.”

“Instead of stepping up, we’re seeing hateful language and outright lies,” Adams said in a Twitter post.

Of course, Fox News was one of the cable outlets stoking outrage over this fake news and now it admits to having been wrong.

On Friday night, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham did something nearly unheard of on the propaganda-masquerading-as-news network: She admitted that a story Fox had been hyping was wrong.

For a week, Fox News and other right-wing outlets had been heavily hyping claims that “homeless veterans” were being forced out of a hotel in upstate New York to make room for Central American refugees. Due to diligent reporting from local reporters at the Mid Hudson News, however, the story quickly unraveled. The hotel denied the claims and had receipts to refute the right-wing narrative. By the end of the week, the Mid Hudson News had a group of homeless men ready to talk about how Sharon Toney-Finch, the source of this tale and the head of a veteran advocacy group, had recruited them to pretend they were the displaced veterans. The whole thing was a hoax. 

“Turns out the group behind the claim made it up,” Ingraham said, in a rare moment of honesty. However, she swiftly returned to the comfier space of mendacity, saying, “We have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing.”

Really, you have no idea why some people would do such a hateful thing even though bigots know that you would lap it up and disseminate it widely without any fact-checking because it suits your xenophobic agenda? The disingenuousness of Fox knows no bounds.


  1. says

    Nothing says “we care about our homeless veterans” like offering them booze, right?
    “We’ll just get some Sterno-guzzling bums in here to claim they were evicted.”
    Such respect.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    Why are there homeless veterans in The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave?

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Ingraham said, … “We have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing.”

    I’d say that’s nine words too long -- but even that lets the Murdoch Mendacity Machine off the hook way too easily.

  4. Holms says

    The group’s transfer prompted a political backlash from Republican county officials, who accused the mayor of trying to offload his problems on unprepared communities.

    I’m sure they were equally outraged when Desantis threw a load of asylum seekers on a plane to some tiny island. Right?

  5. moonslicer says

    “It is astonishing the extent that right wingers will go to in their efforts to make life difficult for immigrants . . .”

    It’s not just immigrants. It’s anybody they hate, and there’d be a lot of people who qualify for that category. Lies, slanders, misrepresentations, shenanigans like this one, none of that means anything to the haters. They’ll do whatever it takes to hurt those they hate. Things like honor and honesty mean nothing to them.

  6. says

    @6 moonslicer
    Things like honor and honesty mean nothing to them.

    Perhaps they would claim that dishonor and dishonesty are simply tools in their fight for a higher cause, kind of like when they claim that Trump is an imperfect messenger for a perfect cause. Humans are good at rationalizing their claims, no matter how irrational they may be to a dispassionate observer.

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