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The Putrefaction Of The Press: A Case Study
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February 20, 2004, 04:00 AM
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Readers will recall that the 2003 VDARE.COM AWARD FOR LOUSY IMMIGRATION REPORTING went to the—fanfare! — Los Angeles Times.

On January 18 2004, less than a month after I announced this dubious distinction, the LA Times—as if eager to prove it had not yet hit rock bottom — outdid its entire 2003 portfolio of rotten stories with a front page piece by Miguel Bustillo [email him] and Kenneth Weiss [email him] titled, "Election Becomes a Fight Over Sierra Club`s Future."

It`s worth reviewing as an example of one of my favorite themes: the decline, fall and putrefaction of the mainstream media, as revealed by its immigration coverage.

In the Bustillo-Weiss story, immigration reform candidates for seats on the governing board of the Sierra Club — former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, Cornell University entomology professor David Pimentel, and Frank Morris, former director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation — were repeatedly (six times) referred to as "insurgents" who are seeking to "take over," "control," or "hijack" the organization.

My VDARE.COM colleagues Peter Brimelow and Brenda Walker (who wrote about the Sierra Club mess) took the usual hits for being "anti-immigrant."

And the LA Times could not pass up the opportunity to mention—entirely out of context —that Walker`s column was "picked up by an anti-Semitic website and topped with a homophobic, anti-Semitic headline."

Note please that anti-Semitic is used twice in a single sentence.

On the other hand, Morris Dees and his Southern Poverty Law Center are, according to Bustillo and Weiss, "civil rights leaders."

"Election Becomes a Fight Over Sierra Club`s Future" is a fine example of how journalists have chosen to cover immigration—by deflecting the key questions and instead introducing the race card.

The central question posed by Lamm, Pimentel and Morris is whether the United States can remain environmentally sustainable when 2 million immigrants arrive each year.

For example, twenty years ago we in California hoped to avoid 50 million residents by 2025. Since 50 million are now inevitable, we`re keeping our fingers crossed that we won`t hit 65 million in 2050.

But instead of ferreting out an answer about sustainability, Bustillo and Weiss, no doubt taking their cue from Dees, go in the completely opposite direction to suggest that the candidates are racist. Instead of focusing on the validity of Lamm, et al., claims, Bustillo and Weiss encourage a nonsensical and unproductive debate about racism.

VDARE.COM readers are well aware of how tiresome this drill is.

I have not been able to speak to Bustillo or Weiss. But from their story, I conclude that they are the same as the dozens of reporters I have talked to over the past four years about immigration coverage: of average intelligence with a below average work ethic and uninterested in getting to the facts that would lead to a fair and balanced story.

What Bustillo, Weiss and all the other half-baked journalists need is someone in the newsroom to ride herd on them—like an editor!

Quality journalism depends on top-notch editing. Where has it gone?

Let`s review "Election Becomes a Fight Over Sierra Club Future."

Example A: Any editor worth his salt would have insisted that Bustillo and Weiss` first words in paragraph one be re-written to eliminate the bias they reflect:

"An unusual alliance of anti-immigration advocates…"

Example B: A strong editor would have known that neither VDARE.COM nor Walker have any control over cyberspace and cannot keep postings off offensive sites. The reference should be qualified if not deleted.

Example C: What editor with a shred of integrity would permit this "have your cake and eat it too" comment by Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope:

"I don`t think that Lamm, Pimentel and Morris are racists. But they are clearly being supported by racists."

If Pope can`t support his allegation with concrete details, then his remark must be deleted too.

The American Society for Newspaper Editors would seem to be the logical place to take concerns about slipshod editing.

Like the Society of Professional Journalists and the Columbia School of Journalism, the ASNE is another self-important and self-congratulatory group. The ASNE publishes a lofty "Statement of Principles" that few have read and none have followed since it was published in 1975.

In 2001, when I was foolish enough to think these watchdog organizations counted for something, I contacted ASNE Executive Director Scott Bosley. [email him]

I explained to Bosley that I had been working on a project to evaluate how the mainstream media reported on immigration. I sent Bosley several examples of front-page stories in the nation`s most prestigious newspapers where as many as eight open borders sources were quoted and not one—ZERO—immigration reform sources were referenced.

Bosley to Guzzardi: "I cannot help you."

Thinking that I must have misunderstood, I told Bosley that I was going to be in Washington DC several times during the summer and I would like to visit.

Bosley to Guzzardi: "I am completely booked at all times."

Okay, I asked Bosley, certainly there must be some representative who could sit with me for a few minutes.

Bosley to Guzzardi: "Well, there may be. Why don`t you call when you are actually in town."

Of course, when I arrived in Washington, Bosley didn`t return phone calls.

Finally, I e-mailed Bosley to ask if he would post my analysis of immigration reporting on his website.

"The ASNE doesn`t have to endorse it," I wrote. "Just put it up and see what happens."

No surprise that this request was ignored also.

I have written several VDARE.COM articles about my experiences with—as they see themselves—the standard-bearers of journalistic excellence. My columns set the record straight.

The reality is that newspapers are a hopeless cause. They most likely will never report professionally on immigration. And, in general, enlightened readers now discount the Establishment media completely.

But really, who cares about newspapers anymore? Concerned Americans seeking the real scoop on immigration can turn to the internet—and to sites like VDARE.COM.

The unvarnished truth is our standard.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.