As Polls Show Overwhelming Support for Arizona's Law, Nets Focus on 'Uproar' and 'Spreading' Boycotts

The night after two major national polls confirmed overwhelming majorities support Arizona's impending immigration enforcement statute (59 percent per Pew and 64 percent per NBC/WSJ), CBS and ABC promoted the cause of activists in the minority. Both devoted full stories to the “uproar” and “emotional civil war” over the law and moves by a few liberal local government bodies to enact boycotts, only getting late in their stories to those who like the law.

The Thursday night stories were pegged to a boycott vote by the Democratic city council of Los Angeles, but CBS's Bill Whitaker and ABC's Barbara Pinto both also played a three-day old clip of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger mocking Arizona and pointed to the cancellation of a trip to Arizona by a suburban Chicago high school's girls basketball team – not to deride adults for using teens to grind a political axe, but to illustrate the supposed depth of opposition to Arizona's law.

“The boycott of Arizona is spreading,” Katie Couric trumpeted before Whitaker touted: “The city of Los Angeles, the latest to react strongly to Arizona's tough new anti-illegal immigration law.” He pushed how “a growing number of states and municipalities are boycotting or considering boycotting Arizona,” citing how “Highland Park High School in Chicago's suburbs is pulling its champion girls' basketball team from a tournament in Arizona because of the law.”

Cuing up Schwarzenegger, Whitaker insisted: “The state has become the butt of jokes.” Schwarzenegger, from Monday, on not traveling to Arizona: “But with my accent, I was worried they were going to deport me back to Austria.”

Over on ABC, Barbara Pinto announced “Los Angeles now joins San Francisco and St. Paul, Minnesota, banning travel to the state.” Standing in front of the Illinois high school, Pinto relayed:
A list of boycotts costing Arizona an estimated $90 million so far. This heated debate is even playing out here at this suburban Chicago High School, 1,800 miles away. Administrators cancelled the Highland Park girls basketball team's trip to an Arizona tournament amid concerns about the new law.
She did at least then a play a clip of a parent wondering: “What does the immigration law have to do with us going to play sports in Arizona?”

ABC anchor Diane Sawyer noted the Pew number at the top of the World News story while CBS's Whitaker only got to it deep in his report. Neither mentioned the higher NBC/Wall Street Journal number.

CBS Evening News, Thursday, May 13:
KATIE COURIC: The uproar continues over Arizona's new immigration law. The commissioner of Major League Baseball today brushed off calls from Latino groups to move next year's All-Star game out of Phoenix. But Bill Whitaker reports, the boycott of Arizona is spreading.

WHITAKER: For every action in nature there's an opposite reaction, so, too, in politics. The city of Los Angeles, the latest to react strongly to Arizona's tough new anti-illegal immigration law. City council voted yesterday to ban city travel to Arizona, ban future contracts with Arizona businesses, and to check whether $58 million in existing contracts can be broken legally.

JOSE HUIZAR, LA CITY COUNCIL: We have to act swiftly and strongly.

WHITAKER: Councilman Jose Huizar's grandfather helped to build LA City Hall as a Mexican guest worker in the 1920s.

JOSE HUIZAR: We fear what Arizona did will continue to spread to other states.

WHITAKER: A growing number of states and municipalities are boycotting or considering boycotting Arizona, pushing the state to repeal the law. Highland Park high school in Chicago's suburbs is pulling its champion girls' basketball team from a tournament in Arizona because of the law. Arizona's tourism board estimates it's losing $90 million to boycotts already. The state has become the butt of jokes.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ON MONDAY: But with my accent, I was worried they were going to deport me back to Austria.

WHITAKER: Still, a majority of Americans, 59 percent according to a Pew poll out this week, support the Arizona law requiring everyone to produce proof of citizenship when asked by police. In fact, 16 states are considering legislation similar to Arizona's. State Senator Russell Pearce wrote the controversial law.

RUSSELL PEARCE: Arizona spend $3 billion a year to educate Medicaid and incarcerate illegal aliens. It is a serious problem.

WHITAKER: And a serious challenge to Arizona's image and pocketbook, but so far Arizona stands willing to pay the price for its actions. Bill Whitaker, CBS News, Los Angeles.
ABC's World News:
DIANE SAWYER: Here at home, a new poll shows the majority of Americans, 59 percent, support Arizona's tough law requiring police to check the documentation of anyone they suspect might be an illegal immigrant. But all around the country, a kind of emotional civil war continues. Some people deciding to try to hit Arizona in the pocketbook. Today's developments from Barbara Pinto.

BARBARA PINTO: This is an out and out brawl, a nation choosing sides. California's Governor Schwarzenegger for one.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: I was also going to go and give a commencement speech in Arizona, but with my accent I was worried they would deport me back to Austria.

PINTO: Los Angeles now joins San Francisco and St. Paul, Minnesota, banning travel to the state.

WOMAN: Los Angeles is not going to stand for bigotry, for racism and for attacks on immigrants.

PINTO: A list of boycotts costing Arizona an estimated $90 million so far. This heated debate is even playing out here at this suburban Chicago High School, 1,800 miles away. Administrators cancelled the Highland Park girls basketball team's trip to an Arizona tournament amid concerns about the new law.

MICHAEL EVANS, FATHER OF BASKETBALL PLAYER: What does the immigration law have to do with us going to play sports in Arizona?

PINTO: Arizona is home no nearly a half million illegal immigrants. It's new law pits neighbor against neighbor.

ALEJANDRA CHACON, LEGAL IMMIGRANT: This is not about immigration anymore. This is about the color of our skin, the way we talk, the way we learn.

PINTO: Across town-

DONNA NEILLE: One night, we hear pop, pop, pop.

PINTO: -Donna and Jerry Neille watched the flood of illegal immigrants and crime move into their neighborhood.

DONNA NEILLE: The gangs. You know, that's really what is scary about all of this, it's these gangs. They're vicious. They're violent.

PINTO: And then there's the 700 mile border fence, promised by Congress. Today, only 34 miles are up, nine of them in Arizona, which has a border hundreds of miles long. The issue is so inflamed that John McCain, once a champion for immigrant rights, is scrambling to be identified with that fence.

JOHN McCAIN IN TV AD: And complete the danged fence.

PINTO: Today, religious leaders protested outside his door, in this border battle that is nowhere near an end. Barabara Pinto, ABC News, Highland Park, Illinois.
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