Nets All Showcase Fearful 2nd Grader's Question to FLOTUS on Lacking 'Papers,' ABC Heralds It As 'Poignant'

ABC, CBS and NBC all showcased a second grader's question to First Lady Michelle Obama, about her apparently illegal mother. The girl pleaded: “Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers,” but “my mom doesn't have papers.”

ABC suggested it demonstrates the need for immigration “reform” as anchor Diane Sawyer proposed “a child's fear brings a new focus to the debate” since “the First Lady had to respond to a child's poignant question” which, reporter Jake Tapper relayed, “immigration reform advocates called...the most meaningful exchange of the day.” [Audio available here]

With “THE QUESTION” on screen (jpg), NBC anchor Brian Williams teased: “The question that a little girl asked Michelle Obama that put her smack in the middle of a big debate.” On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric cued up the video showing “a second-grader had a tough question for Mrs. Obama on immigration.”

Sawyer set up the World News story:

We turn next to the extraordinary day in the polarized debate about illegal immigrants in America. Mexican President Felipe Calderon arrived in the U.S. and criticized Arizona's new law on immigration. President Obama called the law “misdirected,” and then, the complex problem reached right into a second grade classroom, where the First Lady had to respond to a child's poignant question.
The featured exchange which took place at a Montgomery County, Maryland elementary school in the Silver Spring area just outside of DC, during a visit by Michelle Obama and Margarita Zavala, the First Lady of Mexico:
SECOND GRADE GIRL: My mom, she says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers.

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, well, that's something that we have to work on, right, to make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right?

GIRL: But my mom doesn't have papers.
All of the stories conveyed Mexican President Felipe Calderón's criticism of Arizona's efforts to identify illegal intruders from Mexico, but none pointed out Calderon's hypocrisy given his nation's policies. As Charles Krauthammer – dressed in a tuxedo – retorted on FNC's Special Report with Bret Baier:
I'm sort of offended when the President of Mexico speaks, criticizing the Arizona law, saying it's placing “our people” in face of discrimination. If they're his people, well what are they doing in the United States? If they're his people, why do they leave Mexico, abandon his country, to live under the jurisdiction and the laws of the United States?
Look, you can't have it both ways. Particularly coming from Mexico, a country where if you enter illegally it's a felony and you get up to two years in prison and if you do it a second time you get ten years.
Tapper, who framed his story around message-control failure (“State visits are supposed to be carefully choreographed celebrations of a strong bilateral relationship, but today the uncomfortable topic of illegal immigration kept intruding”), noted how Arizona is threatening to fight back against the intolerance harming its economy:
TAPPER: The Los Angeles City Council voted last month to boycott all official business in Arizona, prompting an Arizona utilities commissioner to all but threaten to cut off the electricity Arizona power plants provide L.A.

GARY PIERCE, ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSIONER: You can't call a boycott on the candy store and then decide to go in and pick and choose candy you really do want.
The full story on the Wednesday, May 19 ABC's World News, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth who corrected the closed-captioning against the video:
DIANE SAWYER, IN OPENING TEASER: Illegals in America: The Mexican President criticizes Arizona, and a child's fear brings a new focus to the debate.

...

SAWYER: And we turn next to the extraordinary day in the polarized debate about illegal immigrants in America. Mexican President Felipe Calderon arrived in the U.S. and criticized Arizona's new law on immigration. President Obama called the law “misdirected,” and then, the complex problem reached right into a second grade classroom, where the First Lady had to respond to a child's poignant question. Jake Tapper tells us about this day. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER: Good evening, Diane. Well, that’s right. State visits are supposed to be carefully choreographed celebrations of a strong bilateral relationship, but today the uncomfortable topic of illegal immigration kept intruding. Mexican President Calderon took the unusual step of criticizing Arizona’s new immigration law from the White House. He did it twice – during his welcoming ceremony, and then later in the White House Rose Garden. "We firmly oppose the Arizona law," Calderon said, calling it discriminatory – a sentiment with which President Obama agreed.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think the Arizona law has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion.

TAPPER: The law has not yet taken effect, but in Arizona, it has resulted in protests and arrests. Outside Senator John McCain's Tucson office, three students were arrested and are facing deportation for being in the country illegally. The debate is intense. The Los Angeles City Council voted last month to boycott all official business in Arizona, prompting an Arizona utilities commissioner to all but threaten to cut off the electricity Arizona power plants provide L.A.

GARY PIERCE, ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSIONER: You can't call a boycott on the candy store and then decide to go in and pick and choose candy you really do want.

TAPPER: The immigration issue kept intruding today, even at what was supposed to be a sweet stage-managed trip by First Lady Michelle Obama and the First Lady of Mexico to a Maryland second grade class. One young girl, apparently the daughter of an illegal immigrant, expressed her mother's fear to the First Lady.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: She says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers.

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, well, that's something that we have to work on, right, to make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: But my mom doesn't have papers.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah.

TAPPER: The principal of the school told ABC News that that girl's mother is now afraid, and neither she nor the school would have any further comment, Diane. Meanwhile, immigration reform advocates called that the most meaningful exchange of the day. Diane?

SAWYER: Politics made so very personal. Thank you, Jake Tapper.
ABCNews.com's “Political Punch” post on the event.
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