ABC and NBC Champion ‘Growing National Backlash’ Against ‘Laughing Stock’ Arizona

Extending the kind of respect they never provided the Tea Party activists, ABC and NBC on Tuesday night promoted what NBC anchor Brian Williams embraced as “the growing national backlash against the state of Arizona over its tough new immigration law that says police can stop people just on the suspicion they might be there illegally.”

ABC’s Barbara Pinto touted how “the call for an economic boycott here has caught fire on the Internet” while NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trumpeted how “anger over the law has gone viral,” as both pointed to how the American Immigration Lawyers Association had canceled a conference – of a mere 400 attendees -- scheduled for the state.

NBC’s Mitchell played clips from two left-wing comedians, as she asserted: “It's now gone beyond protest to threats of a boycott, as Arizona becomes a laughing stock to some.” Viewers then heard a joke from Saturday Night Live about “fascism” followed by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart: “It's not unprecedented, having to carry around your papers. It's the same thing free black people had to do in 1863.” After showcasing a Facebook page (“Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, welcomes you unless you're a Mexican or look like one”), Mitchell cited “a slap in the face” from Mexico which, ironically, warned its citizens about traveling to Arizona.

Mitchell gave a soundbite to Senator John McCain, but countered him with a clip from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, before she added: “Today the Attorney General called the law ‘unfortunate.’”

On ABC’s World News, Pinto reported “the anger over this law spread to cities like Chicago, and L.A.” as “the call for an economic boycott here has caught fire on the Internet and even from an Arizona State Representative warning conventioneers to stay away.”

Pinto forwarded a comparison to Arizona’s failure to enact a MLK holiday and highlighted Meghan McCain’s denunciation:

This has happened before. Arizona's decision two decades ago not to honor the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday cost the state 170 conventions and a Superbowl – a grand total of $360 million – and Arizona was forced to reverse its stance. The new law has even split families. Senator John McCain has taken a hardline stance in favor of the law, but his daughter Meghan blogged her disagreement, saying, “I believe it gives the state police a license to discriminate.”
Only at the very end of her piece did Pinto bother to mention: “Still, most Arizona residents – 70 percent – support this new law.”

The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide these transcripts of the Tuesday, April 27 stories:

ABC’s World News:
DIANE SAWYER: And we move on now to the raging argument about illegal immigration in this country and the move afoot tonight to boycott the state of Arizona because of the new law on stopping anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Grand Canyon tours, business conventions, even the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team are being targeted. And Barbara Pinto is in Phoenix for reaction.

BARBARA PINTO: For the first time since he opened his restaurant nine years ago, Dylan Bethke is worried.

DYLAN BETHKE: You'd take about a quarter of our business away if we lost some big conventions.

PINTO: The restaurant operates in the shadow of the Phoenix Convention Center, and in the bull's eye of the growing fury over Arizona's tough new immigration law. Today, the anger over this law spread to cities like Chicago, and L.A. Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law on Friday.

GOVERNOR JAN BREWER (R-AZ): I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like.

PINTO: And police will have to try to figure that out. The new law forces them to stop and arrest anyone who appears to be illegal. The call for an economic boycott here has caught fire on the Internet and even from an Arizona State Representative warning conventioners to stay away.

STATE REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D-AZ): The governor basically codified into state law racial profiling, violation of civil rights.

PINTO: The first to cancel their plans, 400 members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who will lose their $92,000 deposit.

CRYSTAL WILLIAMS, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION: We just cannot in good conscience be in a state and be supporting the economy of a state that will do something like this to its people.

PINTO: This has happened before. Arizona's decision two decades ago not to honor the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday cost the state 170 conventions and a Superbowl – a grand total of $360 million – and Arizona was forced to reverse its stance. The new law has even split families. Senator John McCain has taken a hardline stance in favor of the law, but his daughter Meghan blogged her disagreement, saying, "I believe it gives the state police a license to discriminate." Still, most Arizona residents – 70 percent – support this new law. Their fears about crime seem to outweigh any worries about the economy. Barbara Pinto, ABC News, Phoenix.

SAWYER: And we'd like to know what you think about the boycott, so weigh in on the debate at our Web site, ABCNews.com.

NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now to the growing national backlash against the state of Arizona over its tough new immigration law that says police can stop people just on the suspicion they might be there illegally. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports on the movement to punish Arizona now by hurting the state's economy.

ANDREA MITCHELL: It's now gone beyond protest to threats of a boycott, as Arizona becomes a laughing stock to some.

SETH MYERS ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, CLIP #1: Can we all agree that there's nothing more Nazi than saying, "Show me your papers"? There's never been a World War II movie that didn't include the line, "Show me your papers." It's their catch phrase.

MYERS CLIP #2: So heads up, Arizona. That's fascism. I know, I know, it's a dry fascism, but it's still fascism.

JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: That's tough. It's not unprecedented, having to carry around your papers. It's the same thing free black people had to do in 1863.

MITCHELL: Anger over the law has gone viral. On Facebook today, pages like this one: “Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, welcomes you unless you're a Mexican or look like one.” Calls for an economic boycott. Already a conference of immigration lawyers at a swanky Scottsdale hotel canceled.

BEN BETHEL, PHOENIX HOTEL OWNER: I really feel that this is one of the biggest anti-business things that the state could have done.

MITCHELL: From across the border, a slap in the face. Mexico's government issued an official travel warning that their citizens “could be bothered and questioned without much cause at any time in Arizona.” Mexico's President said the Arizona law could hurt relations with the U.S. Still, the law is wildly popular with many Arizonans, especially Republicans in tough races.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): The people in southern Arizona have had their rights violated by the unending and constant flow of drug smugglers and human traffickers across their property.

MITCHELL: Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano:

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It will detract from some of the efforts that are already under way to really focus on the most serious offenders, the most serious criminals, the ones that not only have crossed the border illegally, but are committing other crimes.
                            
MITCHELL: Today the Attorney General called the law "unfortunate." And tonight, Justice Department lawyers are still deciding whether to challenge it in court. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center