Obama Reassures Illegal Alien Activists In Hispanic Media Interviews

Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz reported Monday on President Obama’s "more inclusive" press strategy (with black and Hispanic media outlets), which naturally led to Obama assuring Hispanic radio hosts and TV anchors that amnesty for illegal aliens (or "comprehensive immigration reform") is still an important item on his agenda.

Kurtz noted that Obama granted an interview to the Spanish-language TV network Telemundo after they complained about being excluded in a round of interviews with ABC, CBS, and NBC. Kurtz failed to note that Telemundo has been NBC-owned since 2002, but his reporting surely reminded opponents of illegal immigration how Telemundo sounds more like a lobbying group than a news outlet:

And [anchorman Pedro Secvec] noted that "our network, Telemundo, is starting a big campaign for Hispanics to make sure that they are counted in the next census. A lot of them are afraid, you know, of participating, because they think, 'I don't have the papers to live in this country.' " The president responded by encouraging Latinos to participate and saying it has been "true historically" that such information has not been shared with immigration authorities.

Sevcec says that his network is on "very good terms" with the White House and that the interview was important because of the millions of Hispanic immigrants living "in the shadows."

"You have the president of the United States saying, 'This is my word.' You can interview people in the census every day, and 100 of those interviews won't carry the power of a president."

Kurtz added later: "The challenge for minority journalists is not to slip into the role of cheerleader. If Telemundo is leading a campaign to register more Hispanics in the 2010 Census, viewers may wonder about the objectivity of its news reports on the subject. But most of the interviews so far with the president have been handled with professionalism."

Even if the interview with Obama was "professional" – perhaps because of the perception that Obama is not hostile to their political goals – the lobbying campaign should surely be an eyebrow-raiser.

Kurtz’s story began with a brief mention of a praise-filled Obama interview by Eduardo "Piolin" Sotelo. Kurtz quoted the radio host as asking about what can be done for the "comprehensive immigration reform." But Kurtz did not elaborate that "Piolin" was honored by the major media three years ago for driving illegal aliens into street protests. "Piolin, one of the most popular DJ's in L.A., used his microphone as a bullhorn to get people in the streets last year," explained CBS reporter Bill Whitaker in 2007. Here’s a chunk of Sotelo's interview with Obama:

SOTELO: Mr. President, is there some sort of network we could establish to be in communication regarding the comprehensive immigration reform, and personally what can I do?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, the key thing right now is obviously we’ve got to make sure that all the people who are involved in immigration reform issues, that they sit down together and they start thinking about how we’re going to approach this problem. Politically it’s going to be tough. It’s probably tougher now than it was, partly because of the fact that the economy has gotten worse. So what I’ve got to do is I’ve got to focus on the economy, I’ve got to focus on housing, and make sure that people feel a little bit more secure; at the same time, get the various immigrant rights groups together and have them start providing some advice in terms of what strategies we’re going to pursue in Congress.

SOTELO: That’s one of the things, Mr. President, I would like to happen. I’m working for media and knowing that our people worked so much. And, you know, they came out from the houses, going to work — scary because they don’t even know if they’re going to be deported.

The liberal media haven't been much more objective than Telemundo in covering illegal-alien advocacy protests. Read our MRC Special Report on "Election in the Streets," on how they tried to pretend "comprehensive reform" was a popular cause. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis