CBS Promotes Berkeley Fourth Graders Demanding the Return of Deported Classmate

On Sunday's CBS Evening News, John Blackstone spotlighted the sob story of fourth graders who are lobbying President Obama to allow the return of their former classmate, Rodrigo Guzman, who was deported with his family back to Mexico. Blackstone sympathized with the schoolchildren who "hope to visit Washington, to personally lobby for Rodrigo's return."

The correspondent trumpeted the children's cause: "The students' activism shouldn't be surprising, perhaps, in a class where they've been studying civil rights leaders." The only soundbites that Blackstone played during the report came from the fourth grade teacher and students at Guzman's former school in the leftist enclave of Berkeley, California [audio available here; video below the jump]

Anchor Jeff Glor led into the segment by asserting that "there is no debate about how significantly current policies can affect some of the youngest members of society. Tonight, John Blackstone has a case in point: a group of fourth-graders who are rallying not for a cause, but for a friend."

Blackstone wasted little time before hyping how "there has been an empty seat for months now in the fourth-grade classroom at Jefferson Elementary in Berkeley, California. Ten-year-old Rodrigo Guzman isn't there." He then outlined how Guzman's family overstayed their visa, which ultimately led to the deportation. He didn't once use the word "illegal" to describe their status:

JOHN BLACKSTONE: Rodrigo was just sixteen months old when family came to the U.S. on a tourist visa. To him, this has always been home....Teacher Barbara Wenger was first to learn that Rodrigo and his family had been deported. Their visas had expired. They are barred from the U.S. for at least five years.

The correspondent used his clips to underline how much the students miss their former classmate, and their resolve to seek his return to the U.S.

BLACKSTONE (voice-over): His classmates Aminah Diaby and Kaiya Daniels miss him.

AMINAH DANIELS: He's really smart, and he has a lot of friends....

BLACKSTONE (on-camera): Did you understand what was happening?

DANIELS (simultaneously): No.

BLACKSTONE (off-camera): Did you understand why?

SCOTT KUWAHARA: No.

BLACKSTONE (voice-over): Rodrigo's absence was just as baffling for twins Kyle and Scott Kuwahara.

S. KUWAHARA: I wasn't really familiar with – like, immigration laws and Congress-people and stuff like that.

KYLE KUWAHARA: It shouldn't take five years to apply for a new visa, because that's a long time to be away from your friends and family.

BLACKSTONE (on-camera): You decided something should be done about this?


K. KUWAHARA: Yes.

BLACKSTONE (voice-over): What they did was take the case of their friend to the Berkeley City Council, to the streets, and to the White House.

K. KUWAHARA: Dear President Obama, please bring Rodrigo home.

Near the end of the segment, Blackstone played one more clip from a student, who told Guzman to hang in there: "You shouldn't give up hope, because your friends are here to support you." He concluded, "As America debates immigration reform, there is a class full of fourth-graders ready to testify that no matter how Rodrigo Guzman got here, he belongs here."

This isn't the first time that the CBS correspondent has filed a slanted report on immigration. Back in May 2011, Blackstone zeroed in on the plight of the student body president at California State University at Fresno, who "joined other young undocumented immigrants pushing for passage of the Dream Act. It would award legal residency to children brought to America before they were 16 as long as they graduate from high school and go on to college or the military."

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