How Did Reporter's Tough Line on Illegal Immigration Make It Onto CNN?

Were the apparatchiks of CNN asleep at the PC wheel? Not only did the network air a balanced segment on medical care for an illegal immigrant. It surprisingly let slip by the reporter's line contrasting the illegal's use of the American legal system now with his disregard for it when he snuck into the country!

Aired at 6:22 a.m. EDT today, the segment focused on the case of Francisco Pantaleon, an illegal Mexican immigrant who fell into a coma in July and who has since been receiving extensive care from a Chicago hospital--all at the hospital's expense. Now that his condition has been stabilized, the hospital wants to discharge him to an extended-care facility, in Mexico, and has offered to pay for an air ambulance to transport him there. But his family is protesting the move, and has enlisted a lawyer who also serves as general counsel to the Mexican consulate in Chicago.

Introducing the segment, anchor John Roberts referred to Pantaleon as an "illegal immigrant," not an "undocumented worker." Picking up the story, reporter Bill Tucker actually called Pantaleon an "illegal alien." I could hardly believe my ears, but replayed the video a few times to confirm it.

View video here.

Then came this shocker.

After a clip of Pantaleon's lawyer asserting "he happens to be an immigrant who is in need of desperate medical attention round the clock. And the hospital, under federal law, and I believe the laws of the state of Illinois, have got to provide the necessary care for this individual," Tucker made this wry observation.
BILL TUCKER: Ironically, Mr. Pantaleon was not worried about federal law when he entered the country illegally.

Wow. We're accustomed to CNN letting Lou Dobbs nightly air his hard line on immigration, and indeed the Emmy-winning Tucker's main gig at CNN is as a Dobbs correspondent. But for a segment like this to sneak into a regular news hour was nothing less than shocking.

Note: checking the transcript of last night's Lou Dobbs show, I see the segment aired then. It was surely produced with that show and audience in mind. But despite being the conscientious recyclers they are, I'm surprised the CNN folks would replay the unabridged report during one of its "straight news" hours.

Note, Part Deux: Particularly given that this story emanates from Obama's home town of Chicago, will some enterprising reporter ask the candidate for his views on it?

Tercera Nota:  Wryly observes NB Managing Editor Ken Shepherd: "Mexico has universal health care, so surely he’ll get better health care there, right? Isn’t that what the liberals tell us? So why the consternation about sending him back?" 

!Bien dicho!

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.