Immigration Protests: Too Big for Their Britches?

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Network news reporters love illegal immigrants, and not just because they cut their lawns, clean their toilets and deliver their takeout. They just can't get enough of "massive" immigration protests, and "huge" crowds, says a new report from the Media Research Center. Unfortunately,

…broadcast networks largely avoided scientific polling data that showed the protesters were in an overwhelming minority. 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 90 percent. These polls were never cited by ABC, CBS, or NBC. In contrast to hundreds of words emphasizing a huge "wave" of "pro-immigrant" activism, the networks aired only 16 mentions of nationwide polls on immigration that considered the opinion of non-protesters.

But take heart. Most networks continued to call a spade a spade, at least:

The networks have not dropped the word "illegal" in favor of "undocumented" immigrants, although some reporters struggled to adopt clumsy liberal-preferred terminology. Groups like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have urged their colleagues to never use the word "illegal," but the word was still more than five times more common than "undocumented." In 309 stories, there were 381 uses of the word "illegal," and 73 uses of "undocumented."

I love illegal immigrants (and their protests) as much as the next guy, but this kind of coverage screws us all in the end. When each side has its own set of facts, it just means more tiresome dinner conversations where everyone accuses the other side of lying and no one ever changes their minds, squabbling even as illegal Mexican busboys clear away the plates after dessert.

More on coverage of the protests here, and a forum on immigration policy from the August/September issue here.

NEXT: Stupid In America, now with added st00pidity

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  1. “cut their laws”?

    Snort.

  2. off topic:

    “tubes” “bridge to nowhere” Stevens put ‘secret hold’ on bill to open federal records.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/4137637.html

    Question: is there an e-mail address to reason hit and run for scoops?

  3. The networks have not dropped the word “illegal” in favor of “undocumented” immigrants, although some reporters struggled to adopt clumsy liberal-preferred terminology.

    Oh please, because we all know it is the evil liberals that dictate use of “undocumented”. Its more likely that the corporate ownership of the media outlets prefer the sanitized “undocumented” terminology. The “undocumented” keep wages low don’t ya know?

  4. Question: is there an e-mail address to reason hit and run for scoops?

    joshua on the left hand side of the site there is a link that Says: “Hit & Run Suggestions” that links to mailto: hitandrun @ reason.com

    I sent an email yesterday hoping they would post/comment on this article about 2 US citizens who are being denied re-entry into the us — but I never saw anything about it.

    I am sure they check it…I just dunno what the criteria are to warrant posting about submitted suggestions

  5. I wouldn’t say it’s a case of each side having its own set of facts. There’s no big secret around the fact that opinion polls do overwhelmingly indicate public opposition to all immigration, not just illegal immigration. There’s always that catch that the numbers change according to how you phrase the question, but nobody is seriously disputing that most Americans are uncomfortable with immigration.

    The question is: So what? The media are not running for elected office. The only media outlet I can speak for with any confidence is a lively but hardly agenda-setting magazine, but why should we have to believe something crazy just because the majority of Americans believe it? There’s a vast and deep literature of absurdities that are supposedly believed by the majority of Americans. To that I say, if all the other kids stuck their heads in a fire…

  6. Sorry if I take this “shocking news” with a huge fucking grain of rock salt. I just can’t put my faith in an organization whose declared motive is rooting out “liberal bias” in the media.

    From the Media Research Center:

    The mission of the Media Research Center is to bring balance to the news media. Leaders of America’s conservative movement have long believed that within the national news media a strident liberal bias existed that influenced the public’s understanding of critical issues. On October 1, 1987, a group of young determined conservatives set out to not only prove — through sound scientific research — that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values, but also to neutralize its impact on the American political scene. What they launched that fall is the now acclaimed — Media Research Center (MRC).

  7. “Fully 81 percent said “out of control.”

    Isn’t any substantial amount of illegal immigration, pretty much by definition, out of control? It’s pretty obvious that our nominal policies on immigration aren’t being enforced if substantial amounts of illegal immigrants are entering the country. The fact that immigration policy has become detached from reality is obvious whether you favor more or less restrictive approaches.

  8. Kwix:

    You have a point. However, you could say also:

    I just can’t put my faith in an organization whose declared motive is rooting out “pork barrel spending” in the Congress.

    I just can’t put my faith in an organization whose declared motive is rooting out “corruption” in the police department.

    I just can’t put my faith in an organization whose declared motive is rooting out “civil liberties violations” by the federal government.

    Actually, what you’ve said would fall under the category of ad hominem.

  9. Actually, what you’ve said would fall under the category of ad hominem.

    You are correct. I am not directly attacking the validity of the statement but rather the source and “big fucking whoopdie doo-ness” of this article.

    All news has a biased slant to it, whether it should or not, because the humans writing the articles have bias. If the MRC’s goal was to insure factual information or bias neutrality, then that would be a fantastic and useful goal. That however is not it’s stated goal. It’s stated goal, is to root out “liberal bias” but not “conservative bias” in the media. This organization is not a media “watchdog” as it claims, but rather is an organization devoted to furthering a conservative agenda in the guise of being a “watchdog”.

  10. And when they claim to have found bias because the media has accurately described events that MRC dislikes because they carry a non-conservative political message, that makes them even less worth worrying about.

    Reporting that protests with six-figure attendances are large is not bias, and the poll they cite doesn’t demonstrate that there was anything misleading about the coverage.

  11. Those poll results show why the issue will probably never be solved…

    When you think about why people bark about it, the answer to the illegal immigration “crisis” is to make legal immigration much easier, but for every one person who realizes this there are 10 who think there’s something inherently wrong with the racial complexion of a nation changing.

  12. …it just means more tiresome dinner conversations where everyone accuses the other side of lying and no one ever changes their minds…

    I think you’ve just described ALL political debate, regardless of the topic.

  13. OK, MRC has an agenda. So do Accuracy In Media, MediaMatters, AlterNet and IndyMedia. Once you are aware of the source’s dominant spin, adjust your intake of NaCL. If they quote a source, click through to the original cite, if you can, and see if they are distorting it. If it mentions a poll, finding our who ordered up the poll is a good idea, too.

    Kevin

  14. There’s no contradiction between “a huge ‘wave’ of ‘pro-immigrant’ activism” and a poll that puts the activists in the minority. All a “wave” implies is a substantial increase in activity.

  15. KevRob,
    I agree wholeheartedly! The reason I mentioned it is because I verified the nature of the MRC. I had never heard of them before today and after hunting down their mission statement and looking through thier archives, I probably won’t be giving them much consideration in the future.

  16. Correction, going back through Reason archives, I now realize that I have indeed encountered the MRC before. However, this is the first time I have spent any real time on the site. My bad and I shall never bring them up again.

  17. No biggee, Kwix. Since there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent media nitpicker from the libertarian corner of the political map, I kinda favor tossing MRC and its lefty counterparts into a bottle and watching them sting each other.

    5,000 Quatloos on Reed Irvine!

    Kevin

  18. First, in a perfect libertarian world, we should have open immigration.

    Second, we are not in anything approximating such a world. Open immigration inherently conflicts with the welfare state, especially in a world with large wealth gaps between nations. Until the world is a lot flatter, open immigration is impossible. We must have SOME standards in place limiting the number of people who would rush to the US and other rich countries if the doors were wide open. There are hundreds of millions who would move to the US, Europe, Canada, Japan, etc tomorrow if they could. There is no way any nation could handle this.

    Since limiting the number of immigrants is a necessity, we have to be rational about it. Here are some basic rules I feel are appropriate:

    1: It should ignore race

    2: We should allow in those who help our nation, and keep out those who do not

    3: We should ensure that the immigrants are diverse in cultural background

    4: We should keep sure the system is fair, and any abusive loopholes closed.

    I think the first point is obvious. The second point has many aspects. We should clearly be letting in educated people, who create far more jobs than they take up and contribute lots of taxes. On the other end, we should keep out criminals, terrorists, etc. Somewhere in the middle are poor, uneducated workers, who are probably good in small doses and problematic in large doses. As for the third point, the problems in Europe with respect to Arabs provide an example of what happens when too many people immigrate from one particular culture in a short time. The group can fail to assimilate and form their own isolated, problematic communities. Also, ensuring immigrant diversity brings more knowledge and ideas to our nation and transmits more of our knowledge back out to more places. Both of these are positive. For the fourth point, I believe in two particular aspects of this fairness policy. First is no amnesty for people who are here illegally. They can go home and get in line with everyone else. I feel it would be patently unfair to give them an advantage after they have demonstrated a willingness to break the rules. What about all those poor people who DID follow the rules? Second, we need to change the Constitution and its absurd loophole that makes anyone born here a citizen. Few nations have this policy, and it is obviously easily abused. When the Constitution was written, there was no welfare state and the primitive modes of transportation made it unlikely anyone would sneak into the US just to have a baby. This is not the case now.

    Of course, I am sure most of you are just going to scream “open immigration forever”, which is a political non-starter and would be the death of America as we know it. Like it or not, the system we have does not allow open immigration. As libertarians, we have to choose the lesser evil.

  19. Thinking as a libertarian, why is “out of control” necessarily a bad thing?

  20. We should clearly be letting in educated people, who create far more jobs than they take up and contribute lots of taxes. // Somewhere in the middle are poor, uneducated workers, who are probably good in small doses and problematic in large doses.

    This is something of a screw-the-market philosophy. You presume that educated people will find work, create jobs, and pay taxes. You presume that a “large dose” of uneducated workers will fail to make a contribution. There are two problems with this.

    • “Uneducated” does not necessarily translate into “no job skills.” Watch a Mexican stoneworker lay a razor-straight wall without a high school education. Watch a Ph.D. in anthropology wait tables.
    • The reason “poor, uneducated workers” risk crossing the border is that there are jobs waiting for them that need doing. They will only be problematic when the supply of workers exceeds the demand.
  21. kevrob is correct, and I’m a bit surprised that some above had never heard of the MRC before.

    On a related note, I just commented on libertarian candidate Jim Burns’ open borders policies at my name’s link, and I even mentioned this magazine at the end:

    …his “freedom of travel” would allow any foreign country to send us millions of people with sinister intent… Those foreign citizens could then form a political bloc in one part of the U.S. and even claim a part of the U.S.’s formerly “very large territory” for the country to which they owe an allegiance… In other words, Burns’ “freedom of travel” scheme would result in the U.S. losing territory and perhaps having a drastically changed political system as well…

    Perhaps in line with that, maybe Reason Magazine could name Maywood California the first “Liberatarianism City” in the U.S. Here’s a picture from that fine city if you haven’t heard of it before:

    http://michellemalkin.com/archives/005818.htm

  22. It should be clear to even the most neurotic of us in our solitude that the solution to the flag protests is to privatize the Post Office. 🙂

    Kevin

  23. http://michellemalkin.com

    The fact that you’re using that bitch as any sort of source is… telling.

  24. Sigh… I really have to learn to proofread when I attack morons.

  25. joshua on the left hand side of the site there is a link that Says: “Hit & Run Suggestions” that links to mailto: hitandrun @ reason.com

    thanks C Tom

  26. LarryA: This is something of a screw-the-market philosophy. You presume that educated people will find work, create jobs, and pay taxes.

    Of course some will not, but 95% or more will. Very few of them will be net consumers of tax dollars.

    “Uneducated” does not necessarily translate into “no job skills.” Watch a Mexican stoneworker lay a razor-straight wall without a high school education. Watch a Ph.D. in anthropology wait table.

    There are exceptions to any rule. But the vast majority of uneducated illegals are NOT highly-skilled craftsmen, and the vast majority of highly educated immigrants do work in high-paying, tax-and-job-generating posistions. We would just be playing the odds.

    The reason “poor, uneducated workers” risk crossing the border is that there are jobs waiting for them that need doing. They will only be problematic when the supply of workers exceeds the demand

    As long as their are any jobs that can be done with their skills, they will come, and undercut the earnings of those already here. It would be a race to the bottom, supported by the welfare state. This is precisely why we CAN’T have open immigration under the current system. Of the millions of illegal immigrants in this country, I would be surprised if more than 10% contributed more in taxes than they consume. You have to make around $40,000 a year to achieve this.

  27. Sigh… I really have to learn to proofread when I attack morons.

    Why Akira? Afterall, they don’t read.

  28. chad, I’m not sure the following are entirely consistent:

    2: We should allow in those who help our nation, and keep out those who do not

    3: We should ensure that the immigrants are diverse in cultural background.

    Some cultures are better than others, after all. Some, for example, promote hard work, education, free expression, and free inquiry. Others focus more on rote memorization, tribal insularity, and oppression of women and non-believers. Allowing the latter to immigrate freely surely promotes “diversity”, but can hardly be characterized as “keeping out those who do not [help our nation]”.

  29. Open immigration inherently conflicts with the welfare state, especially in a world with large wealth gaps between nations

    One more time, with feeling:

    Statist policies by the government do not entitle you to restrict civil liberties!!!

    You know what else conflicts with the welfare state? Like, every dangerous thing individuals do, because we all pay for it. So does that mean that you should make Americans eat right and exercise more? Nooooo… Should we ban smoking because it conflicts with the welfare state? Noooo… Should we ban what should be a fundamental right to live and work where you choose? Apparently if you live on the wrong side of “the tracks” we should.

    Perhaps the more people added to the welfare state, the sooner it implodes. Hence why Sweden has such tight immigration policies, and their welfare state is still falling fast.

    Huzzah!

  30. Ayn Randian
    Perhaps the more people added to the welfare state, the sooner it implodes.

    While i generally agree with your post, I think you mustn;t confuse Libertarian with Anarchist…rule or ruin policies serve noone’s interest.

  31. R C Dean says:

    “Some cultures are better than others, after all. Some, for example, promote hard work, education, free expression, and free inquiry. Others focus more on rote memorization, tribal insularity, and oppression of women and non-believers.”

    So, you’re arguing that we shouldn’t let in any more Christians?

  32. “It should be clear to even the most neurotic of us in our solitude that the solution to the flag protests is to privatize the Post Office. :)”

    amen!

    california seems like a weird, weird place. california through the lens of malkin seems like one of those secrets of the new world order video, but the global elites are all mexicans.

  33. So, you’re arguing that we shouldn’t let in any more Christians?

    Not if they come from backward cultures that do not have anything to offer but barbarism, no.

    I really don’t care what your (broad-brush) religion is, BTW. Unlike de stijl, I’m don’t despise all Christians, or all Muslims, or all Buddhists.

    Some, sure. Your snake-handlers and your Wahhabists can both take a hike, IMO.

  34. Dean: How can you tell? More specifically, who would be doing these cultural evaluations?

    Sure, having such types as you describe is, on paper, suicide, but no one is a 100% open book. IMO us having the system necessary to scan for “undesirables” beyond the obvious (read: violent criminals) would be more damaging than anything a few closed-minded immigrants joining the ranks of our closed-minded homegrown citizens could do.

    If this comes up multiple times, blame the server squirrels.

  35. Our incubment president was born to a wealth, cultivated family in Connecticut, attended prep school, got a Bacherlor’s from Yale, an MBA from Harvard, and spent his young adulthood in the White House, dining with foreign dignitaries, celebrated artists, and some of the most important thinkers in the world

    …and he thinks Jesus chose him to be president.

  36. Our incubment president was born to a wealth, cultivated family in Connecticut, attended prep school, got a Bacherlor’s from Yale, an MBA from Harvard, and spent his young adulthood in the White House, dining with foreign dignitaries, celebrated artists, and some of the most important thinkers in the world

    …and he thinks Jesus chose him to be president.

  37. joe

    “incubment” is a truly beautiful word. It so completely captures the essence of the current president.

    If you don’t copyright it or trademark it or whatever I’m going claim I made it up myself. 🙂

  38. Come now, Isaac, incubment is a perfectly cromulent word. The correct meaning, however, is “joining a sucky baseball club in Northern Illinois.”

    As for our Chief Exec-a-tive, remember what Wellington had to say about Ireland, stables and horses. Even Hank Hill is a native New Yorker, I tell you what!

    Kevin

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