Photo: Ross D. Franklin (AP)

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is returning $16,666 that Fox News gave to sponsor an annual professional journalism conference, which is taking place in San Antonio in September.

The money was intended for the Excellence in Journalism conference, but the NAHJ has made clear it doesn’t want it.

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“As a journalism organization, championing the fair and accurate treatment of Hispanics, Latinos in newsrooms and news coverage – we cannot allow others to ‘shelf’ lies under the pretext of exercising their First Amendment right,” NAHJ President Hugo Balta said in a statement.

The decision came after Fox News radio host Todd Starnes said that America has “suffered” as a result of an “invasion of a rampaging horde of illegal aliens,” and compared migrants to invading Nazis.

Balta’s lengthy statement continued: “It is the irresponsible use of words that we’ve seen this past year like army and invasion, that quickly turn from biased opinion into policy that criminalizes a community and broadens the national divide incited by the President’s incessant negative rhetoric.”

Excuse me? Only the last year? It’s true that Fox News has done nothing but aide and abet a president who has relentlessly attacked Latinx people. But I’m nearly as old as NAHJ itself, and I cannot remember a time when Fox News was not racist, xenophobic, and vile. My entire life I’ve watched Fox News demonize, terrorize and just generally take a shit on Latinx and other black and brown people. To name just one example, I lived in Arizona when Fox News ran an endless stream of disgusting “reporting” about the anti-immigrant S.B. 1070 bill, consistently praised Joe Arpaio. This is not a new concept!

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I’m glad the NAHJ—whose mission purports to represent reporters like me—finally grew a goddamn backbone. I can’t believe it took this long. Why would you take the network’s money in the first place?

It’s seemingly not a problem for the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), which have partnered with the NAHJ for the conference. Both organizations refused to give their sponsorship back.

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“We condemn the unacceptable comments by the Fox contributor, however, as a press freedom organization, we must defend the spirit of free speech inherent in the First Amendment,” SPJ National President J. Alex Tarquinio said in a statement.