Monday’s network evening newscasts offered continuing coverage on the July 1 murder of a San Francisco woman allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant, but it was NBC Nightly News that shamelessly used the occasion to blast “the new Todd Akin” in Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for having “seized upon” the story to promote his stance on illegal immigration as the GOP is “desperate to win Latino voters.”
Leading off the program, anchor Lester Holt ruled that Trump “quickly seized upon” the fact that the man who supposedly murdered 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle “is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico” and “has given new fuel to a particularly bitter debate going on in this country about illegal immigration.”
Holt also reminded viewers that the billionaire “has faced a blistering backlash over some recent comments he made about Mexican immigrants and crime, and now says the San Francisco shooting proves he is right.” Firing back, Holt asked if this case actually does prove Trump right and then turned to national correspondent Peter Alexander with “the emotion and the facts.”
After a brief reference to Steinle’s murder and the reaction by her family members, Alexander reported that “[t]he shooting has ignited criticism of San Francisco's policy as a so-called sanctuary city that gives some protection to undocumented immigrants by barring authorities from asking about their immigration status.”
Moving to Trump, Alexander emphasized that the 2016 presidential candidate “seiz[ed] the divisive issue of undocumented immigrants again today” as he released a new statement blasting the Mexican government after “tweet[ing] his heartfelt condolences to the Steinle family.”
Alexander continued piling on Trump and the GOP as he argued that “Trump's words [are] driving a wedge in a crowded Republican field desperate to win Latino voters.”
The NBC News national correspondent then cited “several recent studies” as proving that “an increase in immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, has resulted in lower, not higher crime rates.”
While Alexander can tout the claims of these unnamed studies, a definitive conclusion can’t be drawn since, as conservative author Ann Coulter astutely pointed out, the federal government has yet to track how many crimes are committed annually by these immigrants.
According to one set of data released in January by Republican Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa), illegal immigrants who were released in 2013 were thought to have combined for almost 88,000 convictions.
The focus on Trump and the GOP instead of the murder continued as Holt brought on Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd to declare that, in reference to 2012 Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, some “Republicans who are worried that Donald Trump is going to be the new Todd Akin.” From there, Todd explained the comparison:
Todd Akin was that Senate candidate in 2012 who said “legitimate rape” and sorta questioned what rape really was. Well, that Trump's name becomes synonymous for Democrats a year from now to be able to say Republican Party, they don't like Hispanics. All we have to do is point to Donald Trump. So, but the reason more aren't speaking out, they're afraid of resting into tangled – a mud pit with Donald Trump because Trump has no shame.
In contrast to NBC, the CBS Evening News chose to focus on the murder of Steinle, the city’s policy of being a “sanctuary city,” and the relative silence on the party of local government officials concerning on the murder and if the city’s policy could have prevented her murder.
Avoiding any mention of Trump or the GOP, anchor Scott Pelley explained that “San Francisco’s city government is fire tonight after the murder of a woman last week allegedly by an illegal immigrant” who “was on the streets after city officials disregarded a request from immigration authorities to lock him up.”
Correspondent John Blackstone reported that the murder “is raising difficult questions for San Francisco, which has a sanctuary program to protect undocumented immigrants.” Without providing a party identification (i.e. that they’re Democrats), Blackstone noted that “San Francisco's elected officials have been avoiding speaking about sanctuary.”
Unlike Alexander, Blackstone explained that the city’s decision to release alleged murder Francisco Sanchez is far from isolated as “[i]n the last 18 months, more than 10,000 undocumented immigrants have been released from custody in California without immigration officials being notified.”
As for ABC’s World News Tonight, that program offered a bare-bones segment on the crime itself and how San Francisco is a “sanctuary city” for illegals.
The relevant portions of the transcript from July 6's NBC Nightly News can be found below.
NBC Nightly News
July 6, 2015
7:01 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Flashpoint]
LESTER HOLT: The random killing of a young woman along San Francisco's picturesque embarcadero last week has given new fuel to a particularly bitter debate going on in this country about illegal immigration. The man charged in her shooting is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, a fact quickly seized upon by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump has faced a blistering backlash over some recent comments he made about Mexican immigrants and crime, and now says the San Francisco shooting proves he is right, but does it? Tonight, national correspondent Peter Alexander on the emotion and the facts.
PETER ALEXANDER: Kate Steinle’s random death as she was walking with her father on San Francisco's famed embarcadero last week first stunned a family....Now, it's adding fuel to a national debate. Francisco Sanchez, the convicted felon who federal officials say had been deported five times to Mexico, today in a jailhouse interview, said he agreed with police that he shot and killed the 32-year-old and doesn't remember everything. “The only thing I can tell you is that I claim responsibility,” he said. The shooting has ignited criticism of San Francisco's policy as a so-called sanctuary city that gives some protection to undocumented immigrants by barring authorities from asking about their immigration status. After being picked up for a drug warrant last March, the Department of Homeland Security says Sanchez should have been turned over to federal immigration officials. Instead, he was set free. Seizing the divisive issue of undocumented immigrants again today, Donald Trump, who earlier tweeted his heartfelt condolences to the Steinle family. Trump's words driving a wedge in a crowded Republican field desperate to win Latino voters. In a newly released statement he said: “The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States.” The billionaire is still defending these inflammatory remarks from last month about undocumented Mexican immigrants.
DONALD TRUMP [on 06/16/15]: They're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people.
ALEXANDER: The fact is, according to several recent studies, an increase in immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, has resulted in lower, not higher crime rates. It's fueling wall-to-wall coverage on Spanish TV and fracturing the party.
MEET THE PRESS MODERATOR CHUCK TODD: Well, look, there's no split on the fact that they all think Trump's doing damage. The split is what to do about it now and how serious the damage is. You have a big chunk of the party leaders that I’ve talked to, associated with both presidentials and non-presidentials, saying who say, you know what, this is going to burn itself out. This is like Herman Cain and 9-9-9 from four years go. A year from now, we won't be talking about it. There are other Republicans who are worried that Donald Trump is going to be the new Todd Akin. Todd Akin was that Senate candidate in 2012 who said “legitimate rape” and sorta questioned what rape really was. Well, that Trump's name becomes synonymous for Democrats a year from now to be able to say Republican Party, they don't like Hispanics. All we have to do is point to Donald Trump. So, but the reason more aren't speaking out, they're afraid of resting into tangled – a mud pit with Donald Trump because Trump has no shame. He'll say whatever is necessary to beat you back and it could end up embarrassing the candidate that attacks him.