Alleging "bias," Rosen misleadingly claimed Post uses euphemisms like "undocumented immigrants"

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Discussing a Denver Post editorial concerning immigration reform, Mike Rosen misleadingly claimed that "The Denver Post uses euphemisms like 'undocumented immigrants' instead of 'illegal aliens.' " In fact, while the Post rarely uses the phrases "illegal alien" or "illegal aliens," a Colorado Media Matters search of the Nexis database revealed 39 Post articles or staff editorials used the phrase "illegal immigrant" or "illegal immigrants."

Discussing a September 21 Denver Post editorial concerning congressional immigration reform measures, Newsradio 850 KOA host Mike Rosen misleadingly claimed that "The Denver Post uses euphemisms like 'undocumented immigrants' instead of 'illegal aliens.' " In fact, while the Post rarely uses the phrases "illegal alien" or "illegal aliens," a Colorado Media Matters search* of the Nexis database revealed only five Post articles or staff editorials in the month preceding Rosen's claim that contained the words "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented immigrants." By contrast, 39 Post articles or staff editorials over the same time period used the phrase "illegal immigrant" or "illegal immigrants."

Four of the five Post articles containing the terms "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented immigrants" also included the terms "illegal immigrant" or "illegal immigrants." For example, the Post reported in a September 14 article:

"I believe that the current anti-immigrant sentiments are alive and well ... and are fomenting a reaction in those legal immigrants to push them forward to say, 'I want citizenship, and I want to be a part of this country,' " said Estevan Flores, executive director of the Latino/a Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Denver.

The issue took a political front seat with a proposal to cut state services to undocumented immigrants. As a result, legislators passed a state law that marks Colorado as one of the most restrictive states for illegal immigrants.

"The hundreds of thousands of people mobilizing on the streets raised political consciousness so even if they can't vote now, they could become citizens and move in that direction," said Anna Sampaio, political-science professor at UCD.

The growth is parallel to the spike in naturalizations seen in California after Proposition 187, which cut off state services to undocumented immigrants in 1994, she said.

Further, the September 21 Post editorial that Rosen was discussing never used the phrase "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented immigrants" but instead used the terms "illegal immigrants," "illegal immigration," or "illegals" a total of seven times.

Rosen made his misleading claim after asserting that the Post "has been weak on Denver as a sanctuary city." Rosen added, "That's The Denver Post's bias. That's why The Denver Post uses euphemisms like 'undocumented immigrants' instead of 'illegal aliens.' "

Rosen's criticism follows in the footsteps of similar distortions from other conservative commentators. As Media Matters for America noted, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely attacked New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for "writing about illegal immigrants" but refusing to "put the word 'illegal' in there." In fact, the portion of Krugman's column that O'Reilly read referred to all immigrants, not only those here illegally. Later in his column, Krugman referred specifically to "illegal immigrants," "illegal immigration," and "an illegal immigrant."

In addition, Colorado Media Matters noted on July 19 that KHOW-AM radio host Peter Boyles agreed with Lafayette Councilman Kerry Bensman's false claim that "the Boulder Daily Camera ... will never put 'illegal' in front of the word 'immigrants.' " However, a search of the Daily Camera website revealed multiple articles that referred specifically to "illegal immigrants."

* Colorado Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of all Denver Post articles published August 22 to September 22 for the terms "undocumented immigrant," "undocumented immigrants," "illegal immigrant," and "illegal immigrants." The results include news articles and staff editorials but exclude opinion columns, letters to the editor, and corrections containing these terms.

From the September 22 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:

Just to finish off this Denver Post house editorial on immigration reform as compared to the Investors Business Daily editorial, here's how the Post finishes: "On Thursday, the House approved bills on deporting gang members, imprisoning tunnelers and empowering local police to arrest illegal immigrants. President Bush said he'd sign these measures but views each as an interim step and not a final product. Many Democrats are signing off, unwilling to concede a popular election issue to Republicans. But rather than pander to anti-immigration sentiments, with fences and artificial crackdowns -- like on fraudulent voting -- Congress should take up the Senate bill endorsed by President Bush with a comprehensive guest-worker program, and ultimately a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants already here."

There are some good ideas in the Senate bill that I support. And there are some good ideas in the House bill that I support, which is why I support a compromise. No, the House shouldn't jettison its plan and simply piggyback on the Senate plan.

[...]

What The Denver Post wants is the Senate plan, pure and simple, which just isn't tough enough on border security. But The Denver Post has been very weak on border security anyway. The Denver Post is also long on promises and short on follow-through. I don't think you can take The Denver Post at face value on this issue. The Denver Post has been weak on Denver as a sanctuary city, if not a factual -- not in fact, if not under law -- if not a de jure sanctuary city, at least a de facto sanctuary city. That's The Denver Post's bias. That's why The Denver Post uses euphemisms like "undocumented immigrants" instead of "illegal aliens." In any event, The Denver Post, true to its partisan leanings, prefers the Democrat version and the softer Senate plan, and gives the impression -- more than the impression -- flat-out says that only the Republicans are playing politics here. Both sides play politics as both sides always play politics.

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