CNN Graphic Labels Minuteman Movement 'Extremists'

Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgA chyron which accompanied a report on CNN’s Newsroom program on Wednesday about the arrest of a leader of an organization inspired by the Minuteman Project, referred to her and her accused accomplices as “extremists.” Despite qualifying how the largest Minuteman organization had distanced itself from the suspects, anchor Rick Sanchez questioned how she became a “player in the anti-immigration movement.”

Sanchez took the human interest story approach to the segment, which began 26 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He first displayed the picture of a young girl who was one of two murder victims in the case, and gave the following description: “Things are not always as they seem, right? And I want to illustrate this now with a picture of a beautiful little girl- there she is. Her name is Brisenia Flores- take a close look, because it may be the only way that you’ll be able to see this little girl. Why? Because this little girl- Brisenia Flores- is now dead.”

After giving some details of the crime, the anchor continued by describing the suspects: “Shawna Ford and two other suspects are now being held on a bond of a million dollars for the deaths of Brisenia Flores and her father....Let me tell you who Shawn Forde is. She’s the executive director of a group that’s called Minuteman American Defense. Police say that Forde planned the killing of the little girl and her father to steal drugs and money, and make it look like it was the work of a drug cartel.”

Sanchez concluded with his qualification about the Minutemen and his question, which he left open-ended: “The nation’s largest Minutemen group has distanced itself from Forde, we should say, and we’ve learned that within Minutemen circles, she is considered a bit of a loose cannon. But you do have to wonder and you do have to ask...how did Shawna Forde, a supposed fringe element, turn up on PBS as a player in the anti-immigration movement?”

Note how the anchor uses the oft-used and overly general “anti-immigration” term. The liberal Talking Points Memo website gave some details into Forde’s PBS appearance (which referenced another left-wing blog, Crooks and Liars, which itself linked to an organization called America’s Voice, which pushes for “common-sense immigration reform”), as well as some details into her turbulent background. Could it be that the left-wing blogosphere’s attention on the crime lead to Sanchez and/or his producer’s decision to run with this story?

The full transcript of the segment from Wednesday’s Newsroom program:

RICK SANCHEZ: Let’s talk about this. Things are not always as they seem, right? And I want to illustrate this now with a picture of a beautiful little girl- there she is. Her name is Brisenia Flores- take a close look, because it may be the only way that you’ll be able to see this little girl. Why? Because this little girl- Brisenia Flores- is now dead. Last May, two men and a woman broke into her home in southern Arizona, and they shot and killed her and her father. Now, according to original reports, the killers were drug dealers, and this was shaping up to be just another case of that Mexican drug gang/cartel violence that we’ve been telling you about.

Guess what? That really may not be the case at all. Here’s why: Shawna Forde and two other suspects are now being held on a bond of a million dollars for the deaths of Brisenia Flores and her father. Shawna Forde is not a Mexican drug cartel member- in fact, quite the opposite. Let me tell you who Shawn Forde is. She’s the executive director of a group that’s called Minuteman American Defense. Police say that Forde planned the killing of the little girl and her father to steal drugs and money, and make it look like it was the work of a drug cartel. The nation’s largest Minutemen group has distanced itself from Ford, we should say, and we’ve learned that within Minutemen circles, she is considered a bit of a loose cannon. But you do have to wonder and you do have to ask, how did Shawna Forde- let’s go ahead and get rid of the president’s picture there if we can- how- pardon us- how did Shawna Forde, a supposed fringe element, turn up on PBS as a player in the anti-immigration movement? This is a story that we’re going to continue to watch for you. We’ll tell you what we find. 

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