AP continues pattern of ignoring McCain's immigration reversal

››› ››› MARK BOCHKIS

Since July 13, the Associated Press has produced four separate articles that have described Sen. John McCain's position on immigration reform without mentioning that McCain's current position that the borders must be secured "first" represents a reversal from his previous position that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective. Nor did the articles mention that McCain said in January that he "would not" vote for the immigration reform bill he co-sponsored if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.

Since July 13, the Associated Press has produced four separate articles that have described Sen. John McCain's position on immigration reform without mentioning that McCain's current position that the borders must be secured "first" represents a reversal from his previous position that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective. Nor did any of the articles mention that McCain said in January that he "would not" vote for the immigration reform bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) if it came to a vote on the Senate floor. Two of the reports, a July 14 article by Barry Massey and a July 13 article by Devlin Barrett, did not note that McCain no longer supports the McCain-Kennedy bill despite specifically noting that McCain had worked on that legislation. Both of those articles, as well as a July 13 AP article by Glen Johnson, reported McCain's plan to "secure the borders first" without noting that it represents a reversal. And as Media Matters for America documented, the fourth report, written by Laura Wides-Munoz on July 13, stated that McCain "is respected by many Hispanics for refusing to pander to anti-immigrant sentiment over the years," but did not mention that McCain switched his position on immigration reform to more closely conform to the views of the GOP base.

The recent reports are part of a broader pattern in which the AP has ignored McCain's reversal on immigration reform in numerous articles since March, as documented by Media Matters here, here, here, here, and here.

From the July 14 article by Massey:

Both McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are targeting Hispanics -- a rapidly growing segment of the nation's population and a critical source of votes in the presidential race.

Before arriving in New Mexico, McCain spoke to the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza at its meeting in San Diego. The Arizona senator highlighted his work on immigration reform with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy -- legislation that would have provided a path to legal status for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States. Obama appeared before the group on Sunday.

McCain said he's ready to move ahead with immigration reform legislation but the nation first must secure its borders, which "we're moving forward in that direction pretty quickly."

"The overwhelming majority of people who cross our borders illegally are crossing for the same reason why our forefathers came," McCain said of immigrants looking for jobs in the U.S. "But there's always a risk since 9/11 of somebody who wants to do bad things in our country coming across an unsecured border. So it is a national security issue as well."

From the July 13 article by Wides-Munoz:

Both candidates are pressing their case in three speeches in as many weeks to Hispanic umbrella groups and working in other ways to make their outreach more sophisticated. Republicans have opened an office in Orlando, where most of the state's Puerto Ricans live, and Obama opens one this week in Ybor City

They've both got their work cut out for them in appealing to a large and growing segment of the population that has leaned Democratic but has not always been motivated to vote. A recent AP-Yahoo News poll found Obama leading McCain 47 percent to 22 percent among Hispanic voters, with 26 percent undecided.

McCain is respected by many Hispanics for refusing to pander to anti-immigrant sentiment over the years. Yet he is viewed in some Latin quarters as a sequel to the unpopular President Bush, a problem he has with voters at large, too.

Obama's vitality and soaring oratory appeal to Hispanics just as they do to others. Whoops of approval were heard throughout his speech this week to the League of United Latin American Citizens' convention.

From the July 13 article by Barrett:

John McCain says he has earned the trust of Hispanic voters by championing an immigration reform bill that nearly killed his presidential bid.

[...]

McCain, a senator from Arizona, saw his White House bid nearly collapse from conservatives' anger over his effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which opponents branded "amnesty" for millions of illegal immigrants.

"I took my lumps for it without complaint. My campaign was written off as a lost cause. I did so not just because I believed it was the right thing to do for Hispanic Americans. It was the right thing to do for all Americans," McCain said in the prepared remarks.

"I do ask for your trust that when I say, I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform, I mean it. I think I have earned that trust," McCain said.

Since the defeat of the immigration reform bill, McCain has tried to make peace with critics in his party by stressing the need for border security before creating a path to citizenship.

While he worked with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy on immigration reform, McCain said, "Senator Obama declined to cast some of those tough votes. He voted for and even sponsored amendments that were intended to kill the legislation."

From the July 13 article by Johnson:

Last week, both candidates addressed some 700 Hispanics attending the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference. They agreed to revamp immigration, an issue McCain has made a hallmark but Obama has accused McCain of abandoning after major immigration legislation fell apart last year.

Both McCain and Obama support an eventual path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the country illegally, although McCain, a senator from the border state of Arizona, has shifted his emphasis to securing the U.S. border before turning his focus back to overhauling immigration laws.

For his part, McCain has a new television ad, titled "God's Children," in which he lauds the military service of Hispanics.

Latinos are expected to impact the voting in such battleground states as Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico and in others with large numbers of Spanish-speaking voters.

From a June 19 AP article by Michael Tarm:

Republican presidential John McCain assured Hispanic leaders he would push through Congress legislation to overhaul federal immigration laws if elected, several people who attended a private meeting with the candidate said Thursday.

Democrats questioned why the Arizona senator held the meeting late Wednesday night in Chicago. But supporters who were in the room denied that McCain held the closed-door session out of fear of offending conservatives, many of whom want him to take a harder line on immigration.

Both McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama support giving legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, but neither has made the issue a centerpiece of the campaign. At one time, McCain's campaign suffered because of his stance on the issue.

From a May 15 AP article by Johnson (retrieved from the Nexis news database):

"I'm not interested in partisanship that serves no other purpose than to gain a temporary advantage over our opponents. This mindless, paralyzing rancor must come to an end. We belong to different parties, not different countries," McCain says in remarks prepared for delivery in the capital city of Ohio, a general election battleground. "There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern. If I'm elected president, the era of the permanent campaign will end; the era of problem solving will begin."

To the disdain of some fellow Republicans, the presumed GOP nominee has worked with Democrats on legislation aimed at overhauling campaign finance regulations, redrafting immigration rules and regulations and implementing government spending controls.

While that has cultivated a maverick image for McCain, the Arizona senator has also been accused of exhibiting a nasty temper -- swearing even at fellow lawmakers from his own party -- and unabashed partisanship.

In particular, McCain has clashed with the leading Democratic presidential contender, Barack Obama. After tangling with the Illinois senator on lobbying reforms, McCain questioned Obama's integrity in a publicly released 2006 letter.

From an April 29 AP article by Sophia Tareen (from Nexis):

Immigration activists and civil rights leaders are gearing up for rallies and marches in cities across the nation, hoping to revive the stagnant immigration debate in time for the presidential election.

Activists predict turnout for the more than 200 events planned Thursday from Seattle to Miami will be far less than in years past. But they say efforts demanding comprehensive immigration legislation -- including pathways to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. -- have extended beyond the streets.

[...]

Immigration reform hasn't resonated with voters in primary elections who overwhelmingly list the economy as their top concern. Immigration legislation has stalled and been defeated in the Senate. Presidential candidates have not extensively addressed the contentious issue.

"Folks are staying away from the immigration debate, it's a touchy subject," said Luis Gutierrez, executive director of Chicago-based Latinos Progresando. "Some don't want to talk about it, unless it's 'build a fence."

Democratic presidential rivals Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton supported a 2006 bill, sponsored by Republican candidate John McCain, that offered illegal immigrants legal status on conditions such as learning English. All three also have supported a border fence.

Community leaders say fear of raids and mistrust of authorities also might lead to lower turnouts Thursday.

From a March 5 AP article by Nancy Benac (from Nexis):

The emergence of immigration as a central political issue was a problem, too. McCain's support for an eventual path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants angered conservative Republicans.

And there were questions about his age, especially in a campaign year when the buzz was all about change.

McCain would be 72 by Inauguration Day, the oldest first-term president.

[...]

Many GOP conservatives still don't trust him, citing his positions on issues such as immigration, campaign finance and global warming, as well as his feud with the religious right.

From a March 5 AP article by Benac (from Nexis):

The three leading candidates for president have somewhat similar views on illegal immigration reform.

Presumptive Republican candidate John McCain sponsored a 2006 bill that would have offered illegal immigrants legal status, on the condition they learned English, paid fines and back taxes and passed a background check. He supports a border fence and recently said securing borders is a chief concern. Both Democratic candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama voted for the 2006 bill and a border fence.

Experts following the immigration debate claim Republicans had hoped illegal immigration would become a wedge issue between the two parties in the 2008 presidential election. But activists say, and exit poll data suggests, it's backfired. Mitt Romney, a once leading Republican candidate with the most stringent views on illegal immigration dropped out of the race last month and immigrants, particularly Latinos, have registered and are predicted to vote in unprecedented numbers.

Still, the issue of immigration reform has not resonated with voters as some hoped it would and debate on the issue has faded, particularly in non-border states.

Network/Outlet
Associated Press
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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