On CNN, Guests Favoring Obama's Immigration Announcement Outnumber Those Opposed 3 to 1

After the Obama administration announced it would not deport young illegal immigrants who met certain criteria, CNN jumped all over the story and gave a podium to multiple illegal immigrants who were overjoyed at the President's announcement.

From 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., CNN interviewed eight guests who favored President Obama's new immigration policy, and only one guest who opposed it and appeared three times. The airtime for guests in favor totaled over twice as much as the time given to the one guest who opposed the policy.

The lone opposing guest was Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who was interviewed once in the morning and immediately before and after President Obama's press conference in the Rose Garden. All in all he received about 13 minutes of airtime, compared with over 32 minutes given to the other guests.

In addition, CNN also had live coverage of President Obama's address in the Rose Garden on the matter, which totaled just under nine minutes.

The list of guests included multiple illegal immigrants, such as journalist Jose Antonio Vargas who "outed" himself last year as an illegal and penned Time magazine's latest cover piece on immigration. CNN twice had live coverage of immigrant demonstrations in Los Angeles, where correspondent Paul Vercammen reported the immigrants' "absolute joy" upon hearing the news of Obama's announcement.

Interviews were also given to Democratic politicians who supported Obama's decision. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa received airtime in the morning and afternoon, respectively.

Most of the interviews given to illegal immigrants and their supporters were quite soft, allowing the guests to express their unvarnished enthusiasm for President Obama's policy. Such questions as "When you heard about this, what emotions went through your head?" led to answers such as this one: "I was just like, I just want to cry."

"I'm just so happy that it's not just me but all my DREAMers, they are now having the opportunity to get permission to work legally, and that, you know, we won't be deported," raved undocumented student Katherine Tavaras.

Twice CNN asked illegal immigrant students what their "plans" were after the policy change was announced. Anchor Wolf Blitzer even asked one immigrant how he felt that Obama's policy didn't go as far as the Democratic-sponsored DREAM Act would have. "It's an important step for a lot of these young people," Blitzer noted.  

Meanwhile, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was asked a tough question that would be expected of a normal interview. Blitzer pressed him on why he thought Obama's decision was just about politics.

"They were brought here mostly by their parents," Blitzer said of the immigrants who would be affected by the new decision. "What's wrong with giving them an opportunity now to have legal status so they can study, work, and be productive members of America?"

It should be noted that the coverage wasn't completely soft for those supporting Obama's decision. Anchor Brooke Baldwin asked some tough questions of Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, for instance.  However, most of the 33 minutes of airtime given to supporters of Obama's announcement was soft coverage.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014