'Immigration Reform' Rally Gets Major Diss from TV Networks

Left-wing protests for "immigration reform" (amnesty) used to be a huge TV-news story. MRC's 2006 special report Election in the Streets counted 309 stories in little more than two months. So it's a little surprising that Sunday's "pro-immigrant" protest received just a few seconds of attention.

It's better measured with a word count than a story count. ABC, CBS, and NBC combined gave it 239 words (or less than 80 words per network). NBC had 34 words, ABC 84, and CBS 141 (half a story).

This is 239 words more than the 2010 March for Life. Obviously, the timing was terrible, with the final vote on health "reform" scheduled. But you would think it would draw more than this. Perhaps the plugged-in Democrats like Stephanopoulos got a signal that focus on this issue wasn't helpful when voters are already angry with Democrats about health care. 

The president made a "surprise" video announcement for the rally, but none of the networks had any interest in video or verbiage from it. It's here. Obama touted how he marched with the lefties in Illinois in 2006. He touted the memory of Ted Kennedy: "Teddy's commitment to the cause never wavered, and neither has mine." 

NBC's 34 words came on Monday's Today. News anchor Natalie Morales skimmed over it: "In the midst of the health care battle, advocate for immigration reform rallied on the National Mall. President Obama told them he is still committed to working with Congress on the issue this year."

ABC was second with two brief stories totaling 84 words, one on Sunday's World News, and one on Monday's Good Morning America. This was the Sunday brief:

DIANE SAWYER: And there was a preview in Washington today of another major battle looming on the horizon, immigration reform. Tens of thousands of people marched to call attention to giving illegal immigrants a path to legal status, and in frustration that the Obama administration has not acted yet.

This was Monday's:

JUJU CHANG: Well, as the health care bill eked through Capitol Hill, thousands of marchers descended on the National Mall for another debate, immigration reform. President Obama sent a videotaped message vowing to work on the issue this year.

CBS offered the lengthiest coverage at half a story on Sunday night by reporter Bill Plante:

BILL PLANTE: ...Thousands of immigration white supporters rallied on the National Mall today urging President Obama to make good on his campaign pledge and urging Congress to reform the nation`s immigration laws.

JANET PARKER (Immigration Reform Activist): We believe that we`re getting their attention even if they`re voting on something else today.

LIZ TREBOLSI (Immigration Reform Activist): I'm here because it`s always a good time to fix a bad immigration system.

BILL PLANTE: But that would be another uphill fight and political observers don`t believe it`s in the cards.

LARRY SABATO: I hear them talking about immigration reform, I don`t believe it. I hear them talking about cap and trade, energy, I don`t believe it. There are just so many things that a Congress can produce in an election year.

BILL PLANTE: The public's biggest concerns, by far, are jobs and the economy and that's what the Obama White House will be talking about from now until November.

The latest media poll on immigration (at least at Pollingreport.com) is a CNN poll from last October. One question asked "Would you like to see the number of illegal immigrants currently in this country increased, decreased, or remain the same?" Only three percent said increased, and 22 percent picked "remain the same." Seventy-three percent picked "decreased."

They asked "Do you think the U.S. Census should or should not ask everyone living in this country whether they are legal residents of the United States?" That’s 88 percent yes, and 12 percent no.

There was this bizarre question suggesting that Americans are racially profiling Latinos they don’t know: "Suppose you were in your neighborhood and you saw a Latino man or woman who you did not know. Would you be most likely to assume that they were born in this country, that they immigrated to this country legally, or that they were an illegal immigrant?" Perhaps sensitive to the harsh implication, 68 percent picked the first two.

I’d tell the pollster "I don’t make assumptions like that about people I do not know."

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