Pre-Emptive Coverage? WashPost Highlights Anti-Illegal Immigration Rally In D.C.
Posted by Tim Graham on April 23, 2007 - 08:48.
For the last two days, The Washington Post has placed a small anti-illegal immigration rally on the front page of its Metro section – a Sunday story previewing the protest, and another front-pager on the events of the Sunday rally on Monday. Why the prominent play, given they estimated the protest crowd at 400? It could be a little pre-emptive publicity to head off complaints when the pro-illegal immigration rallies arrive on May Day, the socialist fun day. Last year’s left-wing rallies in Washington drew earth-shaking, flood-the-zone Post coverage in April and May.

Pamela Constable’s Monday report is fairly straightforward, and gives opponents of illegal immigration their say. (You might quibble that the quotes sound defensive, but is that the Post’s selection of quotes, or were the speakers largely defensive?) The other quibble would be the photo in the paper with a large poster of Sen. John McCain grimacing like he’s getting his chest waxed.

The Sunday preview report by Constable and N.C. Aizenman was more interesting, particularly this: they dug into the finances and interlocking directorates of the anti-illegal immigration movement – something the Post has failed to explore in all the breathless coverage of left-wing "immigrants rights" marches.

Many speakers scheduled to address the rally represent national or regional advocacy groups that draw on common sources of funding and have overlapping boards or staffs.

In many cases, the common denominator is John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist who founded the influential lobbying group Federation for American Immigration Reform about three decades ago.

Of 15 speakers, at least seven have links to either FAIR or Tanton's private foundation, U.S. Inc. K.C. McAlpin is executive director of ProEnglish, a wholly owned project of U.S. Inc. Radio host Terry Anderson has received thousands of dollars in funding from U.S. Inc. and is a founder of a group of African Americans opposed to illegal immigration that FAIR helped create. Col. Al Rodriguez is chairman of a group that FAIR co-organized for Latinos opposed to illegal immigration.

So why can't the Post seem to find the time to examine the same vigor for investigating the left as it can for the right? It must be that persistent and pernicious liberal bias.

The Sunday article had all the flavor of someone being forced to do their homework instead of going to recess. Constable and Aizenman did report that a Post poll found 81 percent of people said the government was "not doing enough" to stop illegal immigration, but added that 62 percent also said "those already in the country" should get some kind of amnesty, a formalized chance to stay. But it's clear that Post editors are responding to the mail they get, as the reporters also explained:

Reports in The Post about the problems of illegal immigrants regularly elicit floods of angry e-mails and online messages, often anonymous.

Some of the worries are specific, such as complaints that immigrants overburden schools and hospitals or bring gang violence. Others are vague and emotional. They include fears of being inundated by foreigners, indignation at expensive accommodations made to newcomers who do not speak English and concern that the quality of community life is deteriorating. The complaints often express frustration with the government, which is seen as having done little to address the overall problem.

"Vague and emotional" is also a good set of adjectives for Post coverage of left-wing protests. The Post has certainly reported on some of these problems in detail: the rise of Salvadoran MS-13 gangs, and the burdens of immigrants on Washington-area health and education systems. As much as the Post reporters like to chronicle sympathetic immigrants, hard-working people trying to feed their children, they can be a little slight on the Big Picture of the costs (and not just the heart-warming benefits) of illegal immigration.

The reporters go on to list complaints from readers, some of them more compelling, and some less so -- including the complaint that the local aliens leave their