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Why Can`t Johnny Report (Accurately)? Ask SPJ Blogger Leo Laurence!
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July 24, 2008, 05:00 AM
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Journalism about immigration has long been stubbornly resistant to facts—a worrisome indication of how beliefs can trump data. Significant progress has been achieved on the political front, such as stopping the amnesty express train last year. But the mainstream media—aka MSM—remains stuck in the same old lies, mythology and boilerplate. Can you say "Jobs Americans won`t do"?

The biggest of the lies: the idea that immigration restriction is a concern of far-right conservatives only. In fact, there is no more mainstream issue than the desire of Americans of all political stripes that immigration be legal, controlled and reduced.

Trite sob stories continue with disturbing frequency, in an undisguised attempt to elicit sympathy for lawbreakers, whom the press deems as victims of the cruel American state. Similarly, fear-of-backlash items promote the idea that citizens generalize unfairly about illegal aliens and immigrants, especially regarding crime.

We read that "the system is broken," suggesting the current structure of law and borders is too unfair to continue. The U.S. is the most generous country on earth toward immigration. Even so, Americans are regularly scolded for wanting our borders and laws enforced, and law-abiding proponents of national sovereignty are called "vigilantes" .

The power of the MSM is illustrated by how the Presidential candidates came to be chosen. A strong argument can be made that we live in a mediacracy, where liberal press and broadcast elites unduly influence the electoral process. The press fell in love with Obama and was tired of the Clintons: unapologetic adoration has ensued for the Senator from Illinois.

In fact, a survey taken this month by the Rasmussen Reports showed that 49 percent of voters believed that reporters are trying to help Obama win, up from 44 percent in June. In February, the same pollsters found the only 24 percent of voters have a favorable view of the New York Times.

The MSM has favorability figures in the same league as car salesmen and Congress. The market value of media corporations is cratering. Layoffs are sweeping newsrooms. Job cuts include 100 newsroom employees at the New York Times (out of 1332) and 62 percent at the San Jose Mercury News.

Much of the economic problem is due to newspapers losing readers to the internet. The long-successful business model based on advertising has broken down. When people want to sell an old car, they now advertise it on Craigslist or a similar online bulletin board, not in the newsprint want ads.

But if newspapers were once again respected, many more readers would drop their coins into the box, and papers` value to advertisers would increase accordingly. The press`s anti-American views and support of open borders and permissive immigration enforcement has driven many citizens to quit the newspaper habit, often with great regret.

You might think that the accumulating train wreck of failures would induce some meaningful self-examination by journalists. But no—nothing of the sort. The same tired formulas remain in place—in particular the unquestioning support for loopy liberal causes like the celebration of any diversity under the sun and universal victimhood for illegal aliens.

Consider the issue of how children suffer terribly when a parent is arrested: this has been a sad psychological fact since the first jail cell was constructed. But the MSM suddenly decided this situation was a social problem only when the government swept a few businesses for illegal employees in the last couple years. (The MSM has been pointed in this direction by the busy folks at La Raza and their publications like Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America`s Children.)

The press did not worry about the innocent kids of drug dealers in Oakland and elsewhere during the 1980s crack epidemic, nor any other children of incarcerated persons. But the teary-eyed kiddies of arrested illegal aliens have fueled many a sob story, constantly reaffirming journalists` beliefs that they, the reporters, are virtuous defenders of the downtrodden.

Interestingly, these same journalists are little concerned with poor citizen kids who are cheated by sub-standard public schools filled with Hispanic students who have notoriously little cultural impetus toward scholarship.

Another example: the Los Angeles Times` occasional series called "Life in the Shadows", about the misery of illegal aliens unhappy with the life they have chosen. In contrast, as of today, the paper had no coverage of the San Francisco triple murder that identified the man arrested for the killings as an illegal alien. A search of the LA Times site for the name of the alleged killer revealed only a brief Associated Press wire story…and several comments from readers asking why the LA Times wasn`t covering it.

That the MSM leans left is hardly news. Whole books have been written on that topic, e.g. Coloring the News and Bias. But in the past, the media at least kept up the pretense of objectivity.

These days, young journalists are trained to spout liberal dogma—particularly the subset called Diversity.

To see the Diversity phenomenon in journalism ideology, check out the online showplace presented by the Society of Professional Journalists, a group which touts its own high standards in its Mission statement as being "dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press as the cornerstone of our nation and our liberty."

The SPJ`s well stocked Diversity page boasts of supplying "Diversity every day" on its special blog .

Particularly scandalous: a posting from last month urging reporters to use only politically correct language to describe non-citizens who may have entered this nation in a sub-standard manner:

"Both national and local media regularly refer to undocumented immigrants as illegal immigrants, or the most inflamatory[sic] phrase, illegal aliens (as if they came from another planet). Both are wrong, as a matter of law.

"The phrase illegal alien was popularized by the anti-Latino organization, the "Minutemen," who conduct their seemingly racist operations along our border with Mexico. "[AVOID THE PHRASE "ILLEGAL" IMMIGRANTS, June 23, 2008]

The blogger, (Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Member: National Committee on Diversity, email him) has more to say on the subject, in an emotional (and poorly spelled) posting.

"While many still hate African-Americans and Gays, the new target of hatred today is Latinos, legal and/or undocumented.  If you`ve got brown skin, many believe you are ipso facto an illegal alien and `should go back to where you came from.`

"Words can be far more powerful than a sword!

"Journalists, therefore, have a special duty and obligation under our S-P-J Code of Ethics to choose their words carefully.  They must avoid fanning the flames of prejudice and racism by referring to undocumented immigtrants [sic] as illegal aliens or illegal immigrants. Besides, it`s contrary to the law.

Newsrooms ought to take affirmative steps to issue official policies that nobody can be called illegal, unless a court of law has so ruled.

Journalists are not politicans [sic]who are trying to exploit the racist feelings of some constituients [sic] in an election campaign by regularly repeating the phrase, illegal immigrants. "

There`s more emotional text, with little in the way of facts or respect for national sovereignty—so Read The Whole Thing, as they say in blogdom.

He pretends that he is making a legal point about the use of the terms "illegal alien" and "illegal immigrant." But there is such a thing as common usage, and he is supposed to be commenting on journalism, not law. Readers understand what is meant by that terminology and that it is not "hate speech" or anything close to that dubious concept.

Would blogger Laurence be happy if every instance of those phrases were preceded by the word "alleged"? Doubtful. His lengthy carping and unfounded accusations of racism about the Minutemen suggests he is more interested in establishing his own cred as Defender of the Oppressed..

This post, and Laurence`s prickly comebacks to the following negative feedback (Inflamatory Responses 6/25 and Use of Illegal Aliens Phrase Discouraged, 6/26) reveal the thin skin typical of many journalists. They can hand out the lordly pronouncements—but don`t question their premises or conclusions!

Laurence goes out of his way to denounce every opinion different from his own of as being racism. He further delivers a lecture (the 6/26 post) on how the law must apply to everyone—after trashing the Minutemen for promoting that very idea.

The SPJ should be embarrassed that it has this unhinged character projecting his twisted ideas of law onto the dubious canvas of diversity. But his viewpoint is typical of the state of journalism today: out of touch, confused, emotional.

(You can contact the psychologically fascinating Mr. Laurence at (619) 757-4909 or at leopowerhere@msn.com.)

From a dollars and cents viewpoint, how can an industry expect customers to continue buying its product when it insults their values and their intelligence? Even ultra-liberal members of the press should see the problem with this business model.

Yet the MSM promotes lawbreaking and anti-social positions while expecting readers to buy its newspapers and watch its TV news shows.

Can we declare the media insane yet?

The good news is that if 24/7 MSM propaganda worked well, last year`s amnesty drive would never have failed. The bad news: we are still a long way from patriotic immigration reform.

Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She recommends that readers check out the Washington Post`s statement of principles from 1935 for ironic amusement.