In the past couple of weeks as illegal immigration has dominated the front pages and the lead stories of virtually every network’s evening news program, you haven’t been able to swing a gato muerto without hitting some pundit or broadcaster discussing the “unwanted jobs” being taken by undocumented workers. In fact, according to LexisNexis, there have been over two hundred news reports since this brouhaha began containing the phrase “jobs Americans won’t do.”
Jobs Americans won’t do? Excuse me?
I don’t know about you, but I find this concept almost as offensive as racial epithets directed at illegal immigrants. After all, is there really a job that Americans won’t do, and, if so, why?
On the other hand, if this is indeed not the case, but rather a convenient media affectation to simplify a complex problem for those with lukewarm intelligence quotients, what is the truth that is clearly eluding the talking headless?
To answer this question, I delved into the hallowed halls of employment data buried deep in the recesses of the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics…God bless me. There, I found answers that some might find rather shocking.
On the politics beat in Wednesday's Washington Post: first, don't ever let them tell you that liberal reporters don't want to be stenographers to power. They don't mind writing news stories that read like a press release...if they're about Hillary Clinton. Political reporter Dan Balz writes up the junior senator from New York's speech on the economy in Chicago without a single critic, just Mayor Richard Daley welcoming the hometown girl "whatever office you are in." Hillary's speech had shades of Old-Style Liberalism in it: "America did not build the greatest economy in the world because we had rich people," she said, "We built the greatest economy in the world because we built the American middle class." She also insisted tax cuts were not "the cure-all for everything that ails the American economy." Balz couldn't note she tends to hate tax cuts...just like liberal reporters.
On Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN, Dobbs scolded “this country's major daily newspapers” for how they “misled” readers in their coverage of immigration rallies since “their headlines failed to tell the truth about what the rallies are all about: Rallies in favor of illegal immigration, and amnesty for illegal aliens.” Dobbs showed the front pages of four newspapers, starting with the New York Times' headline of “Immigrants Rally in Scores of Cities for Legal Status,” followed by the Washington Post's description of “Immigration Rights Rallies,” USA Today's “Historic rallies voice a 'dream'” and the Wall Street Journal's “Immigration-Policy Protests Draw Huge Crowds of Workers.”
Dobbs, however, offered praise for one newspaper's “astute” take, quoting approvingly from a Tuesday Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial which contended: “Organizers wanted the marches to be more about people and less about policy. Most television stations swallowed the bait and delivered news reports soft enough to follow Sesame Street on PBS.” (Transcript, of the comments from Dobbs, follows.)
In light of CBS’s and CNN’s obvious pandering to left wing sensibilities on the illegal immigration issue, FNC’s Fox and Friends provided a welcome alternative. The April 11 edition of the show featured a interview with Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union. Co-host E.D. Hill opened the segment this way:
"If a citizen fails to pay taxes, I mean, we’ve got a tax day coming along, say you don't feel like doing it this year, well what happens when the IRS comes, excuse me, where's that money? Well, what do you get charged with, what do you have to pay in terms of fines versus what an illegal alien would have to do?"
I'm truly amazed at the oozy, woozy promotional coverage the pro-amnesty rally received in The Washington Post today. (For a nice dose of balance, for a more skeptical take on the rally, see Michelle Malkin's photo/video roundup.) But the really woozy take on the power of the rally crowds emerged in the Style section today from classical-music critic/fanciful political essayist Philip Kennicott. Which one of these Kennicott beauties is the weirdest quote of the day?
A. "The crowd is a tapestry, an abstract pattern of color and shapes; or it is something like an engulfing sea of humanity that threatens to overwhelm. Within those two categories, there are other choices. Is the abstraction an organic shape, that flows like blood in the veins? Or is it regimented and linear, something suggestive of a military force gathered for battle? And does the oceanic crowd attack fragile markers of civilization and good order? Or does it cleanse the decadent vestiges of an old and unjust regime?"
Yesterday, many people from around the country gathered in cities and demanded rights for illegal immigrants, and these protests were the primary focus of this morning’s "The Early Show" on CBS. In one segment, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Lou Dobbs, host of CNN’s "Lou Dobbs Tonight" and Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico. Through his questions, Smith made it pretty clear where he stood on the immigration issue.
In his first question to Lou Dobbs, Harry Smith was awe struck at the outpouring of patriotism demonstrated by the protestors:
"When you saw these pictures yesterday from these demonstrations in all these cities across the country, hundreds of thousands of people, American flags unfurled, people draping themselves in the American dream, what did you think?"
CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider was eager to tout yesterday’s illegal immigration rallies as a "consciousness-raising moment" for Hispanics who harbor "resentment" against those who feel illegal immigration is a serious problem facing the United States. Schneider was discussing the effect of the protests on the 2006 mid-term elections with American Morning co-host Miles O’Brien:
Miles O’Brien: "According to the numbers I’ve seen, Jon Kyl [Republican Senator from Arizona who is up for re-election in 2006] is–has a comfortable margin of lead right now, has taken a pretty conservative stand on immigration. Think those numbers will narrow over this issue?"
Bill Schneider: "Well, that’s what he and probably a lot of people are worried about, namely, what–to what extent are those demonstrators going to become, become is the key word, a political force? They have not been in the past. But this looks like a consciousness-raising moment, because so much of these demonstrations were really spontaneous..."
Starters: Yesterday's illegal immigration rallies attracted
a lot of media and blogger attention. Of course, since most of the media favors
unchecked immigration of any kind, they have a tendency to cover up the more outrageous signs
that protesters were sporting Monday. If you're looking for blog coverage of
the protests, head over to Instapundit.com.
Which party will benefit from illegal immigration as it
gains a higher profile in the national debate? The Washington
Times thinks Democrats stand the most to gain. Ace of Spades agrees, arguing
that the Dems' strategy of not offering policy alternatives pays off on at
least this issue.
Media: Bob Schieffer and CBS News accused of racism by fired
producer. "Schieffer has a reputation for bigotry," Raylena Fields
alleges. He "frequently and publicly refers to a newsroom assistant as
'Brownie' due to the complexion of his skin." Fields also claims she saw
the anchor address a black correspondent as "boy." In middle eastern media, Saudi television regularly allows anti-semitic
and anti-American rhetoric on its government-owned airwaves. MEMRI exposes one
of the more virulent
ranters who compares American "neocons" (aka Jews) of being the "closest
thing there is to Nazism." (ht LGF).
How did the media cover guns last week? Alphecca blog's Jeff
Soyer answers that in his weekly roundup of press gun
As the MRC’s Brent Baker reported, the broadcast network news programs focused much attention Monday on immigration issues and rallies. In an effort to demonstrate growing public sentiment in favor of giving such folks guest worker status, the “Evening News” presented data recently obtained from a CBS News poll on the subject. Unfortunately, CBS only shared the parts of the poll that seemed to support its own position on this issue while ignoring the results that didn’t (video link to follow). White House correspondent Jim Axelrod claimed: “According to a new CBS News poll, 74 percent of Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay and work if they have been here at least five years, pay a fine and back taxes, speak English and don't have a criminal record. But even when you wipe away all those conditions, more Americans still favor allowing illegals to apply for work permits than oppose the idea.”
In addition, Axelrod concluded his piece by suggesting that it was conservatives that are blocking legislation that would make these protestors happy: “And despite the latest poll numbers, don't forget that in this town there is still a strong feeling among conservatives that the only nonnegotiables in immigration reform are tighter borders and stricter law enforcement. So this would hardly be the first group to demonstrate at the Mall and ultimately be disappointed.”
Yet, Axelrod and CBS chose not to include in this report other numbers from this poll suggesting that Americans are not only opposed to illegal immigration, but also think legal immigration is too high:
The three broadcast networks led Monday night with multiple stories which celebrated the protest marches held by illegal immigrants and their supporters, with all three featuring sympathetic anecdotes about the plight of those here illegally. “Tonight,” ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas touted in forwarding the red herring that conservatives are against “immigration” as opposed to illegal entry, “hundreds of thousands of people marching in streets across America, trying to convince the country that it needs immigrants." World News Tonight went to three field reports, starting with Miguel Marquez in Phoenix: “Everywhere you look, there are American flags. They're marching under the banner of 'Somos America,' 'we are American.'" But Dan Harris in New York City saw that “like many people here,” one man he spoke with “is carrying a Mexican flag. He says 'I don't need to carry an American flag for people to know that I want to be an American.'"
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, who never uttered the word “illegal” in his lengthy introduction, teased: “They are not American citizens yet, but they want to be. And from every corner of America, immigrants took to the streets today to ask for new immigration laws. We'll go city to city tonight.” Schieffer trumpeted: "Not since the protests of the Vietnam era has there been anything quite like it. From the Canadian border to Texas, from California to the east coast, thousands upon thousands of immigrants in at least a hundred American cities took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations." Bill Whittaker championed “Alex Vega...a father of ten. He owns a business and a house in Orange County. He entered the U.S. illegally 28 years ago. He's marching today because he says he's tired of living in the shadows." From Washington's Mall, Jim Axelrod saw “tens of thousands of Americans” marching though many were illegals. Over on NBC, the least celebratory, Lester Holt heralded: “From border states like here in Arizona to unlikely places like South Bend, Indiana, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, illegal immigrants alongside their supporters stepped from the shadows. Marching under the American flag, they demanded a place at the American table." (Transcripts follow.)
In anticipation of mass rallies in support of illegal immigrants, pro-immigrant reporter Nina Bernstein made Sunday’s front page with “Making It Ashore, but Still Chasing U.S. Dream,” following up on the stories of the 286 Chinese immigrants on Golden Venture freighter that ran aground off Queens in 1993.
Inside Sunday’s paper is Abby Goodnough and Jennifer Steinhauer’s “Senate’s Failure to Agree on Immigration Plan Angers Workers and Employers Alike,” which looks at the impasse solely from those who would benefit from an amnesty program, and gives new respect to business owners in favor of illegal immigration, not previously a favored interest group in the Times.
Smart people know what's going on. I don't. Those experts on those TV shouting matches know exactly what's happening in regards to illegal immigration and aid to Hamas. I read the same reports that come out of Washington and instead of being enlightened I grow woozy from confusion.
Call me clueless. Be my guest.
As I've got it figured - well, wait a minute! Even the New York Times is confounded. One day the headline exults that Congress has paved the way for full citizenship for those 11 million illegals. Next day, it's just the opposite. Congress is bogged down. Here's the exact headline - IMMIGRATION DEAL FAILS IN SENATE VOTE.
If the paper of record can't figure it out, what do you want from me? Likewise, the people who run our country can't seem to figure anything out, either. Aren't they supposed to be of the people, for the people? The people, according to the stats, want a tight border, and don't want illegals hanging round. Legal, yes. Illegal, no.
During his final commentary segment, in which Geraldo Rivera praised the role of the Catholic Church in the immigration debate, the sometime boxer took a swing at CNN's Lou Dobbs.
"Now as Congress approaches a compromise that rejects the severe and mean-spirited sanctions advocated by people like the shrill CNN commentator Lou Dobbs, instead choosing a path to legalization for the 11 million the role of the Catholic Church has played will go far to restore its own tattered image..."
The following is Rivera's full commentary:
Geraldo Rivera: "Of all the hot button domestic issues currently igniting impassioned debate in our country the hottest of all is immigration. When that draconian legislation was proposed in Congress that would’ve made felons of the 11 million men, women and children living here illegally several dramatic things happened. First then most visibly hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters took to the streets of cities all across the country to express outrage over the mean-spirited proposal. But of all the gathering forces on both sides of this incendiary issue none has been as potent or potentially influential as the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. The Church has boldly stepped forward to advocate for moderation, reason and compassion. This is Father Larry Dowling yesterday in suburban Chicago."
While good conservatives and libertarians can agree to disagree amongst ourselves on just how to reform immigration, there's at least a consensus that more taxes and redistributionary spending are NOT part of the solution.
Which is why, I suppose, we need the infinite wisdom of The Washington Post editorial board to tell us otherwise:
Even a small impact on low-wage workers is alarming, given the rise of inequality over the past 25 years. But the question is whether to address that inequality by trying to
stop immigration or to go at it via progressive taxation, larger public
investments designed to prevent poor kids from dropping out of high
school, or some other policy tool. Given the expense and doubtful
effectiveness of border walls and employer crackdowns, progressive tax
and social policies seem preferable. After all, to the extent that
immigrants drive down wages at the bottom, they are driving up the
inflation-adjusted wages of other Americans who get cheaper goods and
services. Taxing the "immigration windfall" that flows to better-off
Americans and passing it on to the less fortunate may be the best way
The quintessential item of conventional wisdom on immigration is the impracticality of deporting the estimated 11-12 million illegal aliens already in our country. Yet there are dissenters. Conservative columnist and former Reagan aide Jim Pinkerton has said "I think actually you could if you wanted to."
I've suggested that deporting illegals seems at least as practicable as administering the amnesty program. In the same piece in which Pinkerton's quote appears, I put it this way:
"[D]eporting illegal immigrants is much more feasible than the elaborate process the amnesty crowd proposes. Under the amnesty plan, the same 11-12 million illegals would have to be identified and located. They would have to be tested to determine if they had attained English proficiency, monitored for over a decade to see that they sought and maintained jobs, paid their fines, etc. If we can do all that, why couldn't we put the same people on buses to the border or planes to overseas locations?"
Immigration has been the hot topic as of late and it was no different on Sunday’s edition of "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer. In the second segment of the program, Schieffer interviewed "New York Times" David Brooks. Schieffer introduced Brooks as a "proud conservative," and while Brooks may be conservative for "The New York Times"staff, to many conservatives he is reminiscent of John McCain in that he will be critical of conservatives to open doors to liberal media outlets.
Brooks railed against conservative Republicans who want a tough immigration bill accusing them of an unwillingness to "talk reasonably." To back up his point, Brooks points to comments apparently made by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA):
David Brooks: "I was up at a press conference this week where a House Republican said, `You know, we've got to have some people to pick lettuce in this country, so we're not going to have immigrants. Let's make the prisoners do it.’ You want to hit the guy on the head with a baseball bat. We're going to take a largely minority population, forced labor, picking lettuce and cotton. Is this ringing any bells here?"
In a week in which immigration has unquestionably been the big story, how did Newsweek choose to frame the issue? The national security implications of a porous border, perhaps? The impact on our economy of millions of illegals, some of whom work, some of whom are a drain on social services? Come on. We're talking the magazine whose most visible reporter is Eleanor Clift. Newsweek chose to focus on . . . the plight of illegal immigrants, with its cover blaring "Illegals Under Fire".
Consider that editors scrutinize every word on the cover of a national newsweekly for its implications and impact. They didn't choose "Under Fire" randomly. With its allusions to lethal force, and printed in red, Newsweek was sending a not-so-subliminal message.
Do you support rigorous measures to strengthen border security and tighten immigration controls? If so, you're probably a 'nativist' - read racist - or a rube, or very possibly both.
Don't believe me? Just ask Neal Gabler. Here's what he had to say on this evening's Fox News Watch:
"The conservative nativists, and maybe that's a redundancy, thought they had a winner here. What a great issue they have," he said sarcastically. "You can beat up on aliens and get all of those white folks for the 2006 election."
Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton weighed in with two points of note:
"Bloggers like Mickey Kaus and Michelle Malkin have made the point that the MSM, especially the LA Times, hid the most inflammatory element of those pictures from their readers and viewers by not showing the profusion of Mexican flags and highlighting the relatively few American flags."
Regular readers of this column know the delight that has been taken in skewering Ellen Ratner for her loopy liberalism, as here, here and here.
You can thus imagine my surprise when, on this morning's 'Long & the Short of It' segment on Fox & Friends Weekend, Ratner offered up some tough talk on immigration. Ratner's remarks were simpatico with the take of Jim Pinkerton, the Newsday and Tech Central columnist who represents the conservative side of the equation.
An aside: Pinkerton is one of the rare conservative commentators willing to roll up his sleeves on government reform. Have a look at his recent TCS column regarding a radical cabinet re-organization proposal by former GOP congressman Bob Walker that would shrink the number of cabinet departments from fifteen down to five.
A very tired and very cranky Al Franken appeared on the March 31 edition of the Today show. The segment, which aired at 7:12AM EST, saw Franken respond to a barb from fellow radio talk show host Michael Smerconish with this witty barb: "Screw you." Also, host Matt Lauer couldn’t find time to ask Franken about Air America’s dismal ratings or the "involuntary loan" that the radio network took from a children’s charity. He did, however, manage to note a happy event for the struggling state of liberal talk:
Lauer:"Al Franken is host of the Al Franken show on Air America radio, celebrating a second anniversary today, so congratulations."
On the March 27th edition of his Fox News syndicated program Geraldo At Large, Geraldo Rivera let loose on the Minutemen and other opponents of illegal immigration. During the final commentary portion of the show Rivera's slam included some violent imagery:
"And you can’t blame the illegals for worrying about what’s next. Will some politicians seeking the Minuteman vote order cops to shoot them wading across the Rio Grande River and for what? Wanting a job in a meat packing plant or an apple orchard?Do you know why those demonstrations over the weekend were so much larger than anyone including the organizers thought they’d be? It’s because many religious leaders feared that the various bills being considered today in Washington would make it a felony to feed, shelter or provide health care to illegals. They have an image of the migra busting at the churches and arresting the parish priest for running the free breakfast program. "
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is using the recent spate of immigration protests to remind their media bosses that it's very insensitive -- and inaccurate? -- to describe undocumented immigrants as "illegal aliens."
As protestors march in the streets and debate intensifies in Congress over how to fix the nation’s immigration laws, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls on our nation’s news media to use accurate terminology in its coverage of immigration and to stop dehumanizing undocumented immigrants.
NAHJ is concerned with the increasing use of pejorative terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word "illegals" as a noun, shorthand for "illegal aliens". Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use "illegals" in headlines.
When Hillary Clinton charged that the House Republican immigration bill would "criminalize...Jesus himself," there was national-media notice – if not criticism. Even Hillary’s "hometown" newspaper The New York Times reported on March 23 that Senator Clinton intensified her criticism of Republican immigration proposals, albeit on page B-5. But no one in the story criticized Hillary for her harsh attack. Instead, reporter Nina Bernstein noted only critics to Hillary’s left: "Mrs. Clinton had been criticized by some immigrant activists for saying little about the issue until March 8, and then speaking at an Irish-only rally, rather than at a forum more representative of immigrants. But yesterday all seemed forgiven." Bernstein’s story, headlined, "Mrs. Clinton Says GOP Immigration Plan Is At Odds With The Bible," began:
We saw in the 2000 election cycle that one way national reporters protected Democratic presidential contender Al Gore was to ignore wild or embarrassing things he said in public. The RNC and other Gore critics would play up his gaffes, but the media said "what gaffes"? If they did report the remarks, they didn’t find them overstated or wrong.
It’s not exactly 2008 yet, but the same trend looks to be happening with Sen. Hillary Clinton. She can claim that Republicans would need a "police state" to round up illegal immigrants, and then claim that Republicans would "literally criminalize the good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself" in their anti-immigration zeal, and some media outlets didn’t notice either one of these outrages. On the hear-no-Hillary-gaffe list: CBS, NBC, National Public Radio, and USA Today. (Nexis search of "hillary and police state" and "hillary and jesus" through March 29.)
If you were surprised by the size of the recent pro-illegal immigration
demonstrations, don't be. Turns out, many demonstrators were there
after being instructed by Spanish-language media on where and how to protest:
The marching orders
were clear: Carry American flags and pack the kids, pick up your trash
and wear white for peace and for effect.
Many of the 500,000
people who crammed downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to protest
immigration legislation learned where, when and even how to demonstrate
from the Spanish-language media.
America, the mass protests in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities have
been surprising for their size and seeming spontaneity. But they were
organized, promoted or publicized for weeks by Spanish-language radio
Rachel Swarns is a bit harshly reductive in her take on anti-illegal immigrant House Republicans in her Wednesday reflection billed as a “news analysis,” “Split Over Immigration Reflects Nation’s Struggle.”
“It is almost as if they are looking at two different Americas.
“The Senate Republicans who voted on Monday to legalize the nation's illegal immigrants look at the waves of immigration reshaping this country and see a powerful work force, millions of potential voters and future Americans.
“The House Republicans who backed tough border security legislation in December look at the same group of people and see a flood of invaders and lawbreakers who threaten national security and American jobs and culture.”
The New York Times reports that CNN's Lou Dobbs is gaining viewers with his unceasing crusade against illegal immigration.
The nation's most prominent opponent of current immigration policy began his day yesterday on the "Today" show on NBC, debating a Hispanic defender of illegal immigrants. He moved on to "American Morning" on CNN to denounce a bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday as "an amnesty program."
By nightfall he was on a plane headed to Mexico, where he intended to assess critically the planned discussions on the issue between President Bush and President Vicente Fox of Mexico.
As a Catholic, I'm long used to finding the media has a chronic case of schizophrenia on the Catholic bishops conference: they are an oppressive caucus of Nosy Nates if they get involved on social issues like abortion, an emerging threat to the separation of church and state. But if they get involved on the liberal side of the divide -- as the American bishops did on nuclear weapons and economics in 1980s, or when they oppose capital punishment -- they're great moral authorities demonstrating a surge in public opinion. Clay Waters finds that case of the gymnastic splits again today at TimesWatch:
Reporter Nina Bernstein evidently caught the spirit of the weekend protests by illegal immigrants and their supporters in Los Angeles, judging by the positive tone of her Monday article, "In the Streets, Suddenly, An Immigrant Groundswell"....Bernstein gushes in the next sentence: "But if events of recent days hold true, they will be facing much more than that. Rallies in support of immigrants around the country have attracted crowds that have astonished even their organizers. More than a half-million demonstrators marched in Los Angeles on Saturday, as many as 300,000 in Chicago on March 10, and -- in between -- tens of thousands in Denver, Phoenix, Milwaukee and elsewhere..."
In all its cacophony and moments of absurdity, this morning's Today show segment on immigration was a supremely edifying example of the confusion, high emotion and complexity of the immigration debate. Matters reached their Alice-in-Wonderland apotheosis when Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California was shown arguing that illegal immigrants are good . . . 'citizens.' Said Feinstein:
"They pay taxes, their children are Americans, they go to schools, they're good citizens and they're needed."
This was in line with the fait accompli argument advanced by La Raza representative Janet Murguia. She referred to what she estimated as the 11-12 million illegal aliens in the country as "people are working in backbreaking work that nobody else wants to do in this country. We need to . . . understand that they are already part of this country."
President Bush spoke at a Naturalization Ceremony Monday and renewed his call for immigration reform. The transcript of the speech is 5 pages long. The Associated Press and Reuters published less than 8 lines from the entire speech. To add insult to injury, both news organizations used the exact same quotes from the speech. The statements used were included at the end of the speech during the wrap up. They neglected to cite any statements from the speech where the President restated his stance on immigration and laid out his ideas on immigration reform.
“I believe every new citizen has an obligation to learn the customs and values that define our nation, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God, tolerance for others and the English language.”
“Immigration is also an emotional topic. And we need to maintain our perspective as we conduct this debate.”