7News reported on immigration reform, failed to fully identify controversial opponent Frosty Wooldridge

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

KMGH 7News on three separate broadcasts featured anti-immigration activist Frosty Wooldridge in reporting on a bipartisan immigration reform measure in Congress. The reports -- which aired May 16 and 17 -- did not mention Wooldridge's controversial writings on immigration or his use of faulty statistics to further his anti-immigration agenda. They also did not provide any commentary from local immigration-rights advocates.

Reporting on the possibility that Congress will reach a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform, KMGH's 7News at 5 p.m. on May 16 quoted controversial anti-immigration activist Frosty Wooldridge, who asserted the measure would trigger a wave of immigration he likened to Hurricane Katrina and said the resulting influx of immigrants would make all U.S. citizens either "victims or survivors." KMGH's 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. broadcasts of May 17 also featured Wooldridge, whose views on immigration prompted conservative Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi to label him "a modern-day Chicken Little who buys into the widely discredited idea of a population bomb."

In the May 16 segment that purportedly examined "the distance between the two sides" of the immigration issue, 7News reporter Hendrik Sybrandy interviewed a woman identified as an undocumented immigrant who, he said, is "looking to politicians in Washington to help put her on a path to U.S. citizenship." He then reported, "A world away it seems, are people like Frosty Wooldridge, who are very outspoken in the belief that the latest immigration reform plan will trigger a migration and population hurricane." Wooldridge was quoted as saying, "[T]his 'human Katrina' will make all American citizens -- no matter what their race, creed, or color ... victims or survivors." None of the 7News reports offered commentary from local immigration advocates.

Wooldridge is the author of Immigration's Unarmed Invasion (Author House, 2004) and a participant in the "21st Century Paul Revere Ride of 2006" -- described on the organizer's website as a "summer-long cross-country motorcycle ride that visited all of the lower 48 state capitols to inform the public and their elected public servants of the severity of the illegal immigration crisis."

In one of his many immigration-related articles posted on the NewsWithViews.com website, Wooldridge asserted: "We cannot celebrate or tolerate growing numbers of Charles Mansons' from other cultures like Muslim terrorists among us." In a March 25, 2005, article, Wooldridge falsely suggested that "29 percent of criminals filling jails across this country are illegal and legal immigrants" who "cost US taxpayers $1.6 billion annually." And in another posting, Wooldridge wrote, "[J]ust wait until our illegal Mexican aliens riot, or worse, start voting!"

Moreover, appearing as a guest on the September 26, 2006, broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Peter Boyles Show, Wooldridge repeated the dubious statistic -- originally attributed to U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) -- that illegal immigrants "kill 25 Americans every single day of the year." As Colorado Media Matters has documented, Boyles and others have falsely attributed King's figure to the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. In fact, there is no GAO study reporting that 25 Americans per day are killed by illegal immigrants.

KMGH aired the May 16 video footage of his remarks on two of its morning broadcasts the following day. While 7News simply identified Wooldridge by name in the earlier broadcast, the 6 a.m. broadcast identified him on screen as "Frosty Wooldridge," above the caption "anti-illegal immigration."

From the May 16 broadcast of KMGH's 7News at 5 p.m.:

MIKE LANDESS (co-anchor): Senate Democrats and Republicans who have been working on overhauling the immigration system made enough progress to avoid a planned showdown vote today. That vote has now been delayed until Monday. The prospect of an immigration bill has encouraged many in the immigrant-rights community, but it's also upset many others who believe the proposed bill amounts to nothing more than amnesty. 7News reporter Hendrik Sybrandy is joining us live now from Adams County. Hendrik, the distance between the two sides of this issue still remains very wide.

SYBRANDY: It is, Mike, which makes you wonder how society will ever reach consensus on this issue. Today we spoke with an undocumented immigrant and an activist who calls illegal immigration a "human Hurricane Katrina."

[begin video]

SYBRANDY: Martha is 20 years old, came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 11, and still feels pretty unsettled.

MARTHA: I'm telling you, I don't feel safe driving, 'cause of, if the cops will stop me, will, the first -- what I heard is, they, the first thing they will ask you, if we have papers.

SYBRANDY: She's looking to politicians in Washington to help put her on a path to U.S. citizenship.

MARTHA: I'm not saying Mexico is bad or anything, it's just, it's really hard to live in Mexico.

SYBRANDY: A world away it seems, are people like Frosty Wooldridge, who are very outspoken in the belief that the latest immigration reform plan will trigger a migration and population hurricane.

WOOLDRIDGE: -- and this "human Katrina" will make all American citizens -- no matter what their race, creed, or color -- they will become victims or survivors.

SYBRANDY: He says this country can't sustain many millions of undocumented immigrants.

WOOLDRIDGE: This bill is a very bad bill for America and for even all of the illegal aliens that are here in this country.

SYBRANDY: But for Martha, it comes down to one simple fact -- life is better here than the place where she grew up.

MARTHA: I'd definitely like to stay. I really -- I love United States.

SYBRANDY: Now, Martha's had a steady job for the past couple years, but if Wooldridge had his way, the government would crack down on her employer and force her to go back to Mexico. She has a child here, though -- lives with her mother -- and sees immigration reform as a potential lifeline.

From the May 17 broadcast of KMGH's 7News at 5:30 a.m.:

JIM HOOLEY (co-anchor): Some think the plan is too tough on immigrant families hoping to reunite here in the U.S. Others worry that the net migration into the U.S. would be enormous.

WOOLDRIDGE: If it is passed, as it is right now, it is like the Hurricane Katrina. But instead of Hurricane Katrina, this is going to be a "human Katrina."

From the May 17 broadcast of KMGH's 7News at 6 a.m.:

BERTHA LYNN (co-anchor): Some say it is too tough, while others worry it will bring too many people to the U.S.

WOOLDRIDGE: If it is passed, as it is right now, it is like the Hurricane Katrina. But instead of Hurricane Katrina, this is going to be a "human Katrina."

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