NYT: Only Simplistic 'Conservatives,' No Liberals, In Immigration Debate?
Today’s top story, naturally, is Bush’s speech to the nation last night concerning illegal immigration. Jim Rutenberg, rotating back onto the national news beat, leads off the coverage, correctly noting that conservatives are still unhappy with Bush on the issue. But where are the liberals?
"Some of the border state governors, Democrats in Congress, and others immediately raised questions about the practicality of the plan. Mr. Bush's broad approach also drew tepid reviews from some House Republicans and conservatives, whose support he will need as he grapples with a problem that has defied decades of proposed solutions: the continued economic imbalances between the United States and its trading partners to the south.
"The reactions underscored the slender line the president is trying to walk between not only Democrats and warring members of his own party who are trying to hammer out legislation, but also between the increasingly powerful Hispanic voters he hopes to recruit to his party and the conservatives who still form its base."
But notice there’s no mention of liberals to balance out the mention of "conservatives" (unless "others" counts).
The front-page "news analysis" by Elisabeth Bumiller, "Behind a Talk, Bush’s History," has similar omissions. In fact, Bumiller’s article marks quite a change in tone for the paper’s usually Bush-hostile chief White House reporter.
But now that Bush is angering conservative activists by calling for a citizenship path for illegal immigrants, the president, who Bumiller has often mocked for awkwardness, has become positively lyrical, as she contrasts his "more subtle" approach with those simplistic conservatives who actually want border control.
"The headline news from President Bush's immigration speech on Monday was troops to the border, but in substance and tone the address reflected the more subtle approach of a man shaped by Texas border-state politics and longtime personal views. In an effort to placate conservatives, Mr. Bush talked tough about cracking down on immigrants who slip across the United States' long border with Mexico. But the real theme of his speech was that the nation can be, as he phrased it, ‘a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time’ and that Congress could find a middle ground between deporting illegal immigrants and granting them immediate citizenship. What was remarkable to people who knew Mr. Bush in Texas was how much he still believes in the power of immigration to invigorate the nation."
Bumiller finds only conservatives but no liberals involved in the debate on illegal immigrants, treating them as some unreasonably angry group to be mollified and "calmed."
"...in a speech in January 2004 Mr. Bush threw himself into the subject with personal passion....In that same speech, Mr. Bush proposed a temporary guest worker program for the nation's 11 million or so illegal immigrants, as well as for immigrants seeking to enter the United States. The reaction was immediate and largely negative; immigrants and many Democrats said the plan did not go far enough, and conservatives said it amounted to amnesty.
"Mr. Bush dropped the proposal as too risky for his 2004 re-election race, but he campaigned heavily among Hispanic constituencies and attracted 40 percent of the Hispanic vote.
"With the election out of the way, Mr. Bush picked up the issue last October, but by then he had changed his emphasis to border security to calm conservatives. On Monday night, with his polls showing a drop in conservative support in part because of his immigration proposals, he toughened his language even more."
In another report, from California, Cindy Chang’s local story is given the misleading headline, "California City Council Rejects Anti-Immigration Legislation." But the actual article is about hiring or renting to illegal immigrants, as her first sentence makes clear:
"The San Bernardino City Council declined on Monday to enact an initiative that would punish city residents who hire or rent property to illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a contentious special election."
Lastly, the lead editorial on illegal immigration, "Border Illusions," excoriates Bush’s speech as cowardly, albeit one that is "sure to hearten the Minutemen vigilantes, frightened conspiracy theorists, English-only Latinophobes, right-wing radio and TV personalities."
Good to see the Times eschewing divisive rhetoric when discussing this important national issue.
For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.