In Latino Vote Story, CNN Reporter Skips Dems' Immigration Pitch

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterIn a report on the upcoming Nevada caucus, CNN reporter Chris Lawrence highlighted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s outreach to Latino voters, and while he did mention the issue of "immigration reform," he did not do the elementary thing a reporter should do: explore what the candidates are saying to Latinos about their immigration proposals.

The report, which aired 21 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of Thursday’s "American Morning," featured a committed Obama supporter who was once an "undocumented" immigrant (and is described as a "child of immigration reform"), and a Nevada talk radio host who claimed that Hillary Clinton’s experience made her more capable to handle the immigration issue than Obama. But did they talk about amnesty?

In his interview of Dana Ramos, the Obama supporter, Lawrence made a reference to Obama’s "promises" with regards to immigration, but other than Ramos’s own references to a "resident program or obtaining a path to citizenship," he did not reveal what Obama’s actual stances on immigration are.

CNN may be evading the fact that as a whole, the Democratic presidential candidates are more "illegal immigrant friendly" than the Republicans. It was only a few days ago that Clinton received cheers when she gave the reply that "no woman is illegal" after a man shouted that his wife was an illegal immigrant during a stop at a Las Vegas restaurant.

Lawrence did mention one specific in his report. He interviewed a Latino restaurant owner in Nevada who credited his caucus support for Hillary Clinton because "her health care plan mandates coverage for everyone."

The full transcript of the report from Thursday’s "American Morning:"

JOHN ROBERTS: Voters in Nevada will caucus on Saturday, and it's a good bet that Latino voters are going to have more influence in this race than all the previous contests put together. Latinos could make up more than a quarter of caucus-goers on Saturday. 'American Morning's' Chris Lawrence has been talking with those voters, the issues that matter to them. He joins us now. What did you find out?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're like a lot of other voters, John. Latino voters here, with all the foreclosures -- they're concerned about the economy. They're concerned about health care. They're concerned about immigration. So, they have very similar concerns, but they are deeply divided over which candidate can best deliver some results.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Dana Ramos is a child of immigration reform.

DANA RAMOS, FIRST TIME VOTER: I was undocumented until Ronald Reagan passed his amnesty program.

LAWRENCE: Now, she's a U.S. citizen and college grad. But immigration is still her priority.

LAWRENCE (on camera): You were leaning towards Obama before you went to the debate. Are you firmly in his corner now?

RAMOS: I am. I am definitely ready to caucus for him on Saturday. I think he has prioritized immigration more than Senator Clinton at this point.

BARACK OBAMA: Si se puede....

LAWRENCE (voice-over): There are more Latino voters in Nevada than the national average, and the Democratic rivals are fighting for every one. The owner of this restaurant is caucusing for Clinton, because her health care plan mandates coverage for everyone.

JAVIER BARAJAS, RESTAURANT OWNER: I'm worried everyday that one of my kids is going to get sick or I go to the hospital and how I'm going to pay.

LAWRENCE: Obama won the official endorsement of the Culinary Workers, Nevada's most powerful union. But Clinton has been encouraging individual members to vote their conscience.

MIGUEL BARRIENTOS, KRLV RADIO HOST: And this is where you're going to see the split among the culinary workers.

LAWRENCE: Radio host Miguel Barrientos and others told us a lot of Latino workers were never consulted by union leadership.

EDDIE ESCOBEDO, PUBLISHER, EL MUNDO: And seven out of 10, that's what they say, they never asked me. I don't know why they chose Obama.

LAWRENCE: Barrientos says the choice comes down to immigration.

BARRIENTOS: And we don't think Senator Obama will be able to handle this the way we expect Hillary Clinton, with her experience, to be able to deal with it.

LAWRENCE: Dana remains committed to Obama, but won't give him a pass on his promises.

RAMOS: You know, just a resident program, or obtaining a path to citizenship, I expect him to deliver on that.

LAWRENCE (on-camera): Now, a lot of the culinary members are shift workers who do work on the weekends. So, the plan was to have them caucus right here on the casinos on the Strip. That was the plan. The campaigns all agreed to these rules nearly a year ago. A late-filed lawsuit now threatens to kind of throw that into chaos. The judge is going to decide on it later today.

ROBERTS: Yeah, we'll be hearing about that -- about 12:00 noon Eastern time, is when that hearing takes place. And it's interesting to see that these voters in the culinary workers may not vote as a block. They vote their own minds. We'll see how that plays.

LAWRENCE: But the thing to really keep in mind is a caucus is not private, like a vote. You have to stand up on the side of the room with your candidate, so your union leadership and your co-workers are all going to know who you voted for.

ROBERTS: All right. It will be interesting to watch this weekend. Chris Lawrence, thanks very much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center