Fox News ‘Migrant Crime’ Ranter Is a Bit of a Criminal Himself

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Going all-in this week on the so-called “migrant crime spree,” Fox News host Jesse Watters brought on a Georgia resident who recently confronted the Athens mayor over the murder of Laken Riley and the “criminal illegal aliens” who’ve supposedly taken over the city.

The protester turns out to have a wild background, including criminal charges—a fact that was not disclosed to Fox News viewers on Wednesday night, as liberal watchdog Media Matters first reported. Although he was identified as “James Lee” on Watters’ show, the man’s name is actually James DePaola, and he was arrested and charged in 2016 after violently threatening his wife for making a grilled cheese sandwich too cheesy.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Fox News claims they didn’t highlight DePaola’s criminal past or use his full name because he had misrepresented himself to the network. “The guest identified himself as James Lee to Fox News and other news outlets following the press conference,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “A search of James Lee from Athens did not turn up any connection or link to James DePaola.”

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While the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Daily Item referred to DePaola by his last name in their coverage of the press conference (Lee is his middle name), local news station Atlanta News First identified him merely as James Lee in its story. DePaola made headlines this week when he disrupted Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz’s press conference about the murder of Riley—allegedly by an undocumented immigrant. DePaola raged at the mayor, urging him to resign, and saying he has “blood on [his] hands” because of the city’s immigration policy.

While appearing Wednesday evening on Jesse Watters Primetime, DePaola was identified by an on-air graphic and Watters himself as James Lee and a father of five. Describing Girtz as a “left-wing nutjob,” DePaola claimed that local law enforcement supported his public outburst and added that, under different circumstances, he’d have assaulted the mayor. “If that was my daughter, I would have done more in that meeting,” he asserted. “That mayor would have had a black eye walking out of there.”

Watters was impressed with DePaola, touting him as the face of new right-wing movement against “the sanctuary stuff,” and likening his tirade to CNBC host Rick Santelli’s 2009 screed that helped launch the tea party. “You don’t get the credit you deserve as a patriot and a real journalist,” DePaola responded.

Undisclosed to Fox’s audience during his appearance discussing crime was the fact that DePaola drew national coverage in 2016 over a violent confrontation with his spouse over a grilled cheese sandwich.

“James DePaola, 55, was screaming at his wife in such a fashion that spit was hitting her face, according to Athens-Clarke County police,” WSB-TV reported at the time. “Their 12-year-old daughter called 911 from her mother’s cell phone saying her dad hit her mom and pulled the phone out of the wall.”

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According to police, DePaola admitted to pulling the phone out of the wall because he didn’t want his wife calling law enforcement for a “stupid” reason. His wife Michelle, meanwhile, told police that DePaola “has a history of violent and abusive behavior that has involved him being arrested and served with a restraining order in the past.” He was charged with obstruction of a 911 call and criminal trespass/damage to property.

Since then, DePaola has continued to have run-ins with the law, largely over traffic infractions. For instance, he was booked in a Whitfield County jail last spring for “Passing In No-passing Zones” and driving without insurance.

Former president Donald Trump has raged about a “Biden migrant crime” crisis in recent weeks, and so Fox News has spent the past few weeks obsessing over the topic. Even though violent crime is down across the United States and national data does not support Trump’s claims of such a “migrant crime wave,” Fox News hosts have dismissed the data in favor of emotionally charged anecdotal evidence.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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