When political scientists compare populism and elitism, they could certainly find a test case in the new Arizona law on immigration enforcement. While Rasmussen found 70 percent of Arizonans favored the crackdown on illegal aliens, and new national media polls found majority support as well, ABC, CBS, and NBC denounced the popular will as short-sighted and discriminatory.
From April 23 to May 3, the top three television networks offered viewers 50 stories and interview segments on their morning and evening news programs. The tone was strongly hostile to the law and promotional to the "growing storm" of left-wing protesters: 37 stories (or 74 percent) were negative, 10 were neutral, and only three were positive toward the Arizona law's passage -- 12 negative stories for every one that leaned positive.Stories were much kinder and sympathetic to illegal aliens than they were to police officers. Cops were potential abusers of power. Entering the country illegally was not an abuse of power. It was portrayed as an honorable step by the powerless.
The soundbite count was also slanted, with 92 quotes against the law and only 52 in favor. The pro-law numbers, however, included many soundbites of Arizona public officials defending themselves against liberal charges that they were racists or in favor of racial profiling.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on Thursday didn't try and hide her opinion on illegal immigration, spinning such lawbreakers as having a "pivotal role in making our country work." The News Live host interviewed Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles and opined, "They do all kinds of jobs that keep our economy going, that keep us fed, our houses clean, our gardens tended and the like." [Audio available here.]
Brewer appeared absolutely baffled by the fact that most Americans agree with Arizona's new immigration law: "When you're looking at removing those people from the system, it's odd to me that you would get so much support."
Continuing her rather lengthy assessment, the anchor offered this rather loaded question: "Why do you think there's so much support for this law when the consequences of removing those estimated 12 million illegal immigrants could devastate our economy?"
On Thursday's 11AM hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall described "growing controversy" surrounding the recent shooting of an Arizona sheriff's deputy by illegal immigrant drug smugglers and noted how: "The Pinal County sheriff released the 911 tapes the injured deputy made, in response to what he called 'growing speculation' that the shooting was staged." [Audio available here]
Hall brought on Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to respond and grilled him on the conspiracy theory put out by the left-leaning Phoenix NewTimes: "a report...comparing the deputy who received that wound...to another officer who had staged a gun battle. The allegation here is that this shooting...was to supposed to help convince people that the tough Arizona law against immigration was needed, that this was the example that you could hold up as proof. What do you say to those claims that this was all staged?"
Babeu replied: "Well, we in law enforcement operate in the realm of facts....We don't have the luxury to operate just with all these wild ideas that could be out there." He went on add: "So this news account, they didn't have the benefit of any of the facts. In fact, they didn't even talk to me or anybody from my agency."
NPR's All Things Considered devoted an entire one-sided story Tuesday night to the apparently heart-breaking news that illegal aliens are considering moving out of Arizona to more illegal-friendly states.
Reporter Ted Robbins spent his whole story talking to illegal aliens and their defenders about how they're misunderstood, and even touted how community organizers are "flexing their political muscle" by putting together "barrio defense committees" like "reverse neighborhood watches" to alert illegals that law enforcement is in the area.
MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Wednesday gave "kudos" to the Phoenix Suns basketball team for protesting Arizona's tough new policy on illegal immigration. The host touted, "The team is set to wear Los Suns jerseys tonight on Cinco de Mayo in response to Arizona's controversial [law]."
Ratigan enthused that congratulations were in order and added, "Around here we call that a slam dunk." The cable anchor quoted the team's owner playing up the move as one to honor Hispanics.
Clearly, however, there is a political angle. The same Robert Sarver also derided the legislation as "a flawed state law." Suns point guard Steve Nash attacked the bill as "very misguided, and unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties."
Liberal political pundits frequently remind Americans that words matter, which makes broadcast network reporters' coverage of Arizona's new crack down on illegal immigrants so appalling.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law on April 23 that would make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to not carry documentation proving they are in the country legally. The bill gave state law enforcement the power to determine the immigration status of any person during "any lawful contact." Amid allegations that this law would lead to "racial profiling," Brewer later amended it to allow law enforcement to only check the immigration status of those involved in a "lawful stop, detention or arrest."
Reporters on ABC, NBC and CBS misled the American people about the law by calling it "anti-immigration" twice as often as correctly identifying the law as "anti-illegal immigration" and reporting, as ABC's Bill Weir did on the April 24 "Good Morning America, "Police [in Arizona] now have the power to stop anyone and make them prove they are legal."
While the vast majority of national media stories from the controversy over Arizona's new immigration law are sympathetically centered on the plight of the illegal alien, Eve Conant offered a stunning contrast inside the pages of Newsweek based on reporting from Arizona last year. She said you might think the suburbs of Phoenix "were a safe and friendly place to raise kids. Ask me now and I'd say: think twice."
This piece must have been controversial inside the magazine's offices. Conant wrote:
Arizona has outraged the nation with a new immigration law that obligates authorities to check the documents of anyone they believe is in the country illegally, based on a "reasonable suspicion" during a "lawful" stop. Some accuse lawmakers and the 70 percent of Arizonans who support the bill of acting like Nazis, or of turning Arizona into an apartheid state. But spend some time in Arizona, and you may come to see why so many Arizonans want this.
About 45 minutes ago, Red State's Caleb Howe reported that a package filled with a white powder was sent to the office of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Brewer, picture right in a file photo, has become a controversial figure since she signed into law a bill giving state authorities more power to determine an individual's immigration status.
Andrew Staubitz, the chief of Phoenix's Capital Police Department, told Howe that a state employee opened an envelope addressed to the Governor and found a "powdery white substance." The first floor of the Arizona Capitol was closed for about half an hour. Paramedics were called, but the employee required no further medical assistance. The powder was sent to a lab where it is undergoing tests.
Will the media report this event as vehemently as they have other instances of purported political violence? Will they extrapolate a larger threat posed by opponents of the new immigration law as they repeatedly have with the Tea Party movement (even though it has been completely devoid of violence)? Or will they apply the journalistic scrutiny to this incident that they failed to apply to the claims of members of Congressional Black Caucus who said protesters had shouted racial slurs at them? We will see.
Our friends at CNSNews.com -- which is owned by NewsBusters parent organization the Media Research Center -- have a story today about ABC "The View" co-host Sherri Shepherd's reaction to Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law.
When asked, in the context of Arizona's new immigration law, about a Justice Department report showing that one-out-of-five American teenagers uses illegal drugs and that most of those drugs come out of Mexico, Sherri Shepherd, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” said she did not care. Arizona’s new law against illegal immigration is “very unfair,” she said, and America has got to do better.
Shepherd spoke with CNSNews.com at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner on May 1 in Washington, D.C. CNSNews.com asked her, “A lot of celebrities have come out against the Arizona immigration law recently, what’s your stance on it, do you have an opinion on the law?”
Filling in for host Bob Schieffer on Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, Early Show co-host Harry Smith grilled former Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth on Arizona's new immigration law: "Some people would contend that this law in Arizona is racist in nature. Some have equated it even with Jews having to carry identification during Nazi Germany. How do you respond to that?" [Audio available here]
Hayworth shot down the absurd comparison: "That is overblown rhetoric. And it's a tool that's been used before....what's going on is a deliberate distortion to move this from a question of enforcement to one of ethnicity. It's not the case. I read you the language of the bill-" Smith interrupted: "But hang on second...J.D. let me ask you this. If you were Hispanic and you were walking down the street today in Arizona, would you have some concern if a squad car drove by?"
Only minutes earlier, Hayworth had read from the Arizona law, citing a key provision that directly contradicted Smith's assertions: "It says the law, quote, 'shall be implemented in a matter consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons, and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens.'"
Hayworth attempted to reiterate that point: "The law is very finely crafted, protecting-" Smith again interrupted: "It was amended Friday." Hayworth replied: "because good people of good will want to go the extra mile to ensure there is not a hint of racism here."
Most support Arizona’s impending immigration enforcement law and a solid 78 percent think the federal government should do more to keep illegal immigrants from getting into the U.S. where, Katie Couric noted in citing the new poll numbers, “hundreds of thousands of them now live in Arizona.” So, how did CBS take these hardly surprising findings? Couric fretted “many” of those illegals “no longer feel welcome.”
Instead of seeing that as good news which will lessen the problem, CBS empathized with the plight of a reproductively profligate law-breaker. “On a dusty block in Phoenix, 15 years of the Quintana family's possessions are for sale,” reporter Kelly Cobiella despaired over video of teddy bears before translating for the mother, Manuela, who managed to churn out ten kids who are now U.S. citizens, but hasn’t bothered to learn English. Cobiella explained how she decided to leave Arizona (for Colorado) because of the new law which has yet to go into effect.
Cobiella cited how over the past two years about 100,000 illegals have left Arizona and after sharing the complaint of a landlord who has lost tenants, Cobiella raised the sympathy quotient, relating how the 12-year-old daughter’s “best friend left to California with her family on Saturday,” asking the crying tween: “Did you get to see her yesterday before she left?”
A number of media outlets continue to hold water for the weekend's pro-illegal immigration protesters, as NewsBusters has reported, painting violence at many rallies as somehow unexpected or not representative of the larger movement.
While that characterization may be fair, the benefit of the doubt afforded to immigration protesters by some of the nation's leading media outlets stands in stark contrast to the coverage of Tea Party protests by those same outlets. Tea Parties rallies are guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the mainstream media.
"[W]hat started as a peaceful immigrants' rights march in downtown Santa Cruz turned violent, requiring police to call other agencies for help, authorities said," read the lede of an Associated Press report. Since no Tea Party rally has turned violent, we can't make a direct comparison. But it is safe to assume that a Tea Party protest looking like the one at top right -- and involving numerous incidents of vandalism and other crimes -- would be characterized simply as "violent" or some other ugly adjective.
On Sunday morning's Weekend Edition, National Public Radio anchor Liane Hansen claimed a huge turnout for amnesty rallies nationwide: "An estimated half million immigrants and their supporters turned out yesterday to rally for immigration reform and against Arizona's tough new immigration law."
NPR's Ted Robbins offered a story from Phoenix loaded with four opponents of Arizona's new immigration law, but he seemed stunned at story's end when he asked a Minuteman what should happen:
ROBBINS: Both [Reza] Romney and [Javier] Ojeda says they're tired of people lumping all immigrants together with drug smugglers and criminals.
Pure genius, I tell you. With an estimated half a million illegal immigrants residing in Arizona according to the Pew Hispanic Center, questions are being raised about what this means for the United States and its national identity. But according to Newsweek contributing editor Eleanor Clift, it's a "happy" thing with lots of upside.
On the May 2 airing of "The McLaughlin Group," show moderator John McLaughlin raised the issue about the country's identity, particularly when it comes to English as the United States' primary language.
"The bedrock is national identity," McLaughlin said. "If the national identity suffers by reason of multiple languages, then the bedrock of our society, which is our identity, being an American is an American. English preserves that."
A large group of protesters demonstrating at a May Day rally for worker's and immigrant rights downtown broke off into a riot vandalizing about a dozen businesses around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.
Many in the group were carrying makeshift torches as they marched, breaking storefront windows and writing 'anarchist graffiti' on buildings, according to Capt. Steve Clark. Many businesses sustained multiple broken windows including very large storefront windows at Urban Outfitters and The Rittenhouse building. Police believe at least 15 businesses suffered damage.
Now we all know that the slightest amount of liberal violence equals 'mostly peaceful' in the media style book, but we also know what the reporting would be like if we weren't talking about illegal aliens and the anarchist offspring of the far left.
Comments on two Sunday shows reflected an emerging new liberal line of reasoning, which uses the lack of opposition to Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law, as a means to discredit conservatives and Tea Party activists as hypocrites and/or racists. HBO’s Bill Maher on ABC’s This Week:
Government intrusion, government power is something that really bothers conservatives, unless it's directed toward people who aren't white, you know, I mean it does seem like there’s some of that going on there.
Chrystia Freeland of Reuters on the McLaughlin Group:
What I think is really important to notice here is the hypocrisy, the intellectual hypocrisy because we have...a lot of the same people who are very exercised right now...about big government and pointing out the American tradition of liberty, of individual rights, are also the people who are on the side of allowing the government to intrude much more into individuals' lives on immigration.
“Angry backlash from coast to coast,” ABC’s David Muir teased Saturday’s World News, “huge rallies across this country tonight against that new controversial immigration law.” On CBS, Jeff Glor teased: “May Day Message. Immigrant right groups rally from coast to coast against Arizona's controversial new law.”
ABC reporter Eric Horng touted how “this is the fifth year in a row that nationwide immigration rallies have been held on May 1st, but this year emotions are particularly raw. They came by the thousands. A sea of demonstrators armed with a message.” He soon claimed “the state has been lampooned by comedians” and as evidence played the very same clip from the left wing Jon Stewart as had NBC’s Andrea Mitchell earlier in the week when she asserted Arizona had become “a laughing stock.”
From Phoenix, CBS’s Bill Whitaker began with how “the many citizens here say that if the politicians don't hear their voices today they might hear them at the ballot box a little louder in November,” but moments later in his story Whitaker showcased an admitted illegal:
Gerardo, who asked us to conceal his identity, crossed illegally from Mexico to Arizona four years ago. With the new law he knows there's a greater chance he’ll be arrested and deported...He has a daughter, a state job, a home which his an American born partner Jessica is packing up, fearing they might have to flee...So they joined the protest in Phoenix, fighting to overturn the law. [video below, MP3 audio]
On Friday night, NBC promoted leftist May Day protests against Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law while CBS, after a full week of coverage focused on outrage against it, finally bothered to get around to how murder and crime got the public behind it. Declaring Arizona is “at the center of a growing storm over its tough new immigration law,” NBC anchor Brian Williams touted: “Activists across the country are planning a series of May Day protests tomorrow against the law.”
Reporter George Lewis announced: “Those May Day protests are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people into the streets from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., to here in Arizona,” where Republican Governor Jan Brewer defends the measure even though, as if it’s relevant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, does not like it: “Last night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger disagreed with Brewer.” Schwarzenegger: “I would never do that in California, passing laws like that. No way.”
Over on the CBS Evening News, Bill Whitaker acknowledged “recent polls show more than 60 percent of Arizonans support the state's tough new immigration law,” explaining, as if that’s surprising:
One day after the New York Times hailed a grand total of four protesters of immigration enforcement, another tiny left-wing protest of “dozens” against Arizona’s new immigration law made The New York Times on Friday -- outside a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Reporters Monica Davey and Michael S. Schmidt never used a liberal label for the protesters, even as they cited organizer Leone Jose Bicchieri, who’s hailed in one biography as a “Witness for Peace” when Marxist-Leninists ran Nicaragua in the 1980s. The leftists even called a black man a racist for opposing them:
At one point, a fan, carrying his own bullhorn and two large American flags, got into a screaming match with protesters as he declared that he was "standing with America's favorite pastime" and urged the crowd not to boycott Arizona at all. The protesters chanted at the man, who was African-American, "Racist, go home!"
Davey and Schmidt also relayed: “Outside Wrigley, Connie Andersen, dressed in Cubs gear, said of the Arizona law, ‘This is a speedy path to Nazi Germany fascism.’”
Joy Behar, along with three guests, continued to crusade against the new Arizona immigration law on April 29.
Guests included Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, actress Rosie Perez and singer Jon Secada who all joined Behar in bashing the law.
Liberal Behar attempted to link immigration reform to attacks on gays saying, “You know I was thinking of how it's similar to gay bashing in a way. Because, you know, they'll come in from other parts of the country or wherever and they'll attack some gay guys in the Village here and Chelsea in New York City based on the way they look. It's a very similar thing that's going on. We're going to judge you on how you look, we’re gonna throw you in jail, and also they’re gonna throw these people in jail for six months?”
On Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Bill Whitaker reported on protests against Arizona's new immigration law, citing several opponents of the new measure, but failing to feature a single supporter. On Thursday's Evening News, Whitaker filed a nearly identical report that included a clip of at least one proponent of the legislation.
In the Early Show report, footage was show of an immigration law protestor declaring: "We are America. Get over it." Whitaker followed by proclaiming: "Opponents say requiring police to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they suspect is un-American. Even the mayor of Phoenix is suing to have the law overturned." A clip was played of Mayor Phil Gordon ranting: "Arizona and Phoenix is not the Arizona or Phoenix that you have seen portrayed by some individuals that have brought this racist, this hateful law to the state."
Whitaker noted how "protesters turned up the star power. Pop star Shakira voiced her opposition." A clip was played of the singer fretting: "I'm worried about the impact that the implementation of this law will have on hard working Latino families." Whitaker added: "Mexican American singer Linda Ronstadt spoke out, as well." Ronstadt remarked: "Gee, I better pack my passport, you know, coming to Tucson."