Bozell Column: Wave Flags For Illegal Aliens

April 19th, 2006 11:44 AM
Sometimes they just can’t contain themselves.

On April 10, left-wing organizations held a massive rally in Washington and other cities, demanding rights (and taxpayer benefits) for illegal aliens, and the liberal media couldn’t have been more excited. The networks had multiple stories, going from city to city, and breathless phrase to breathless phrase. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer played the worn cliche card: “Not since the protests of the Vietnam era has there been anything quite like it.” Bet ten bucks that CBS has said that about just about every large liberal protest they’ve covered. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, CBS also used on-screen graphics with earth-shaking metaphors like “Awakening Giant” to describe the protesters.

ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas opened with an accurate lead: “We begin with an unprecedented show of support for America's illegal immigrants.” On NBC, reporter Lester Holt also noted the illegal aliens’ list of demands: “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."

But CBS’s Schieffer couldn’t manage to squeeze in the word “illegal” in his introduction of the cheat-the-system protesters.

CBS morning host Harry Smith oozed over thousands of flag-waving protesters “draped in the American Dream.” CNN political analyst Bill Schneider embarrassed himself by going where even most liberal reporters wouldn’t go, claiming the rally crowds were “spontaneous,” not organized, a sign of a “new consciousness” raised in the “Hispanic community.”

None of these stories seemed to make time for an opposing point of view: namely, since when is legislation before Congress to be moved by illegal immigrants? Why should people’s votes for members of Congress be symbolically canceled out by cheaters gloriously emerging “out of the shadows”?

Were these protesters a representative slice of America? Not even close. The USA Today-Gallup poll asked whether illegal immigration is "out of control" or "not out of control." Fully 81 percent said "out of control." Fox News asked how serious illegal immigration was as a problem: 60 percent said very serious, 30 percent said somewhat serious. That's nine out of ten. These protesters represented the fringe – loud and organized, maybe, but the fringe.

The Washington Post found in their April 6-9 poll that 75 percent of those they poll feel disagreed with the notion that America is "doing enough" to curtail illegal immigration. Even as the Post reported that number in its next-morning coverage of the protests, they never gave that poll number its own story or headline. But the next day, the Post’s front page carried the headline “Immigration Bill Fallout May Hurt House GOP.” With 75 percent feeling America isn’t “doing enough” with aliens, wouldn’t that suggest the Democrats are in more trouble? Not if you work at the Post, and your heart-throbbing hopes and dreams for a Democratic Congress are defined as “news.”

It’s funny now to remember how upset the liberals became when the Post’s business officials made the decision (soon withdrawn) to support a pro-troops rally beginning at the Pentagon. Well, the Post might not have officially sponsored the illegal-alien march, but the coverage read like an eight-page commercial. Consider these numbers to show how over the top the Post went to cover this protest: 19 by-lined reporters, and another 20 assigned writers who were credited by name, seven staff photographers, 13 stories, 26 photographs. All in all, about eight full pages of coverage.

And yet, in this ocean of newsprint, and these waves of pictures of flag-waving leftists, the Post found some adjectives were completely off limits, scrubbed from the script like there was a Politburo meeting before the paper went out. The word “liberal” never appeared to describe anyone or anything at the rally: not the protesters, not the organizers, not the speakers, not the posters, nothing.

Another utterly forbidden word was “amnesty,” a word that describes pending legislation before Congress to forgive and forget the trespassing of immigrants who broke (and continue to break) our laws. The word simply did not appear anywhere in the 13 stories, despite common black-and-yellow "Amnistia!" signs at the rallies.

For all of the swooning news coverage, it’s not at all certain that Congress will agree to change anything about immigration policy this year. But the media have made their political preferences clear: They disagree with the majority of Americans that illegal immigration is a serious national problem. They see thousands of illegal aliens demanding the right to change our politics – and the right to vote in our elections – and smile and tingle and throw bouquets of praise. They are there, arm in arm, with that ten percent fringe.