Over the last several years, Miami-based author and local marketing heavyweight Bruce Turkel became a regular fixture on Fox News and its many affiliates.
But on Wednesday, Turkel publicly broke up with the company, ending a streak of what amounts to over 400 appearances he has made on the channels, by his own count. At issue was the network’s coverage of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings, which has led to an estimated 2,300 children being separated from their parents as the adults await misdemeanor criminal charges. Previous policies would have kept the family members together while they await immigration court hearings.
“This was a bridge too far for me,” Turkel told WLRN in an interview on Thursday. “Hearing people defending this -- not the politics of immigration, not the politics of happening, but the simple fact that children were being separated, toddlers, babies, infants, separated from their parents -- just horrified me.”
In an open letter to the network he published on his LinkedIn account, Turkel specifically took issue with personality Sean Hannity’s assertion that the children represent a “rolling invasion” of the United States, and regular contributor Ann Coulter’s claim that clips of crying children consisted of “child actors.” Other personalities have suggested that the children are better off in government facilities than with their parents.
“Quite simply, the position Fox has taken on our government’s policy of separating children from their parents is too heinous for me to accept,” Turkel wrote. “I can no longer appear on the Fox network. I quit.”
Over 100 of the children who were separated from their parents have ended up in several facilities across Miami-Dade County, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and federal lawmakers.
Turkel was never paid for his appearances, he says. However, they did give him recognition that amounted to paid speaking engagements and higher book sales.
Turkel’s company, Turkel Brands, is most known locally for creating much of the imagery associated with Miami as a tourist destination. The company developed the “It’s So Miami” campaign that for years has been the calling card of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
He has long been a registered Democrat, but for years he stuck around during the conservative network’s questionable reporting and commentary, including discussions that suggested with no evidence that former President Obama was born in Kenya and was a Muslim. In his open letter he said he thought his voice was more valuable on-air, and he could be seen as a hypocrite for bowing out now instead of then.
“People are accusing me of being an opportunist, and I see why they would say that,” he says. “However, if I was an opportunist, I would stay at the station. The idea of being on week after week after week is the real benefit.”
After publishing the open letter on his LinkedIn account, Turkel says he has received an outpouring of feedback. “I’ve gotten lots of supportive emails and letters and I’ve gotten plenty of virulently ugly emails questioning the anatomical positions that my mother must have gone into to conceive me,” he says.
Asked if growing up and working in South Florida, a community with a long history of being welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers, played into his view on the situation, he offers a metaphor: “Marshall McLuhan said, ‘I don’t know who discovered water but it wasn’t a fish.’”
“This is the water I swim in,” he says. “I’m a fish.”