CNN Devotes Story to MRC Study on Media Coverage of Illegal Immigration

On Thursday night, CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, anchored by Kitty Pilgrim, featured a full story on the MRC's study by Tim Graham released on Monday, “Election In the Streets: How the Broadcast Networks Promote Illegal Immigration.” Pilgrim announced that “this nation's major newscasts are being accused of being blatantly sympathetic to illegal aliens.” Reporter Casey Wian explained how “a study released this week by the conservative Media Research Center...claims ABC, CBS, and NBC News have been promoting illegal immigration." After a soundbite from Graham, Wian relayed how “the study examined network news coverage of the issue from March 24th through May 31st. Among the findings, illegal alien amnesty advocates appeared in about twice as many soundbites as supporters of border security.” In addition, “networks routinely ignored polls showing the vast majority of Americans favor stronger border security. And the study concluded: 'The networks seemed to offer honorary citizenship to anyone crossing the border.'” (Transcript follows)

Video of the story (2:28): Real (4.2 MB) or Windows Media (4.8 MB), plus MP3 audio (1 MB)

The transcript of the story, corrected by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, as aired on the August 31 Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN:
Anchor Kitty Pilgrim: "Tonight, this nation's major newscasts are being accused of being blatantly sympathetic to illegal aliens. This broadcast has continually made the distinction between legal and illegal immigration in this country. And a group that regularly criticize network news coverage says networks refuse to make that distinction. Casey Wian reports."

Casey Wian, from Los Angeles: "When the House of Representatives passed the Sensenbrenner border security bill in December, the three broadcast television networks did not report the development during their evening newscasts. But months later, when illegal alien advocacy groups organized street protests against the bill, the networks gave those demonstrations glowing coverage. That's just one of the charges in a study released this week by the conservative Media Research Center. It claims ABC, CBS, and NBC News have been promoting illegal immigration."

Tim Graham, Media Research Center: "You've had these illegal aliens marching down the streets en masse in white shirts waving American flags, and it really was a long organized political commercial instead of being a real story about the immigration debate."

Wian: "The study examined network news coverage of the issue from March 24th through May 31st. Among the findings, illegal alien amnesty advocates appeared in about twice as many soundbites as supporters of border security. Not surprisingly, President Bush appeared on both sides. Networks routinely ignored polls showing the vast majority of Americans favor stronger border security. And the study concluded: 'The networks seemed to offer honorary citizenship to anyone crossing the border.' The broadcast networks did not respond to requests for comment on the study, but one media watchdog says it overstates their perceived support of illegal immigration."

Margaret Engel, Newseum: "When you have really significant numbers of people in the streets protesting something, you can't avoid it simply because the Gallup polls show the numbers are 81 percent in a different direction."

Wian concluded from street-side in Los Angeles: "The study also examined language used in coverage of illegal immigration. It found the label 'conservative' used 89 times, but 'liberal' was used just three times. One surprise, network reporters and anchors used the word 'illegal' more than five times as often as the politically correct term, 'undocumented.' However, the word 'alien,' as in 'illegal alien,' was only used seven times in more than 300 reports. One network reporter even referred to protests in support of those who critics 'call' illegal."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center