Now that the Obama administration and Congress are engaged in a debate over immigration policy, a Media Matters review of major news outlets has found that when it comes to immigration coverage, anti-immigrant commentator Mark Krikorian continues to be the media's preferred conservative voice. Krikorian heads the Center for Immigration Studies, a group associated with notorious nativist John Tanton and whose research has been called into question -- but these facts are routinely ignored in coverage of his remarks.
The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky has been on the media circuit this week in a desperate effort to convince the American people that expensive and unnecessary voter ID laws are necessary to prevent widespread voter fraud from corrupting our democracy. After appearing on CNN Saturday morning, von Spakovsky was hosted on C-SPAN Tuesday morning to debate the matter with Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. His misrepresentations about the prevalence of voter fraud in America began almost immediately.
When pressed about the claim that there is very little evidence of voter fraud in America, von Spakovsky cited as the perfect example of why Mississippi and other states need to pass voter ID laws the case of U.S. v. Brown, a lawsuit prosecuted by the Justice Department against Ike Brown, the Democratic leader in Noxubee County, MS. But it's hard to see how the voter ID laws could have prevented Brown's crimes.
VON SPAKOVSKY: Well, let's talk about Mississippi where they're voting today in a referendum about voter ID. Anyone who has any doubts about this can pull up a case called U.S. v. Brown, it's a lawsuit that was won under the Voting Rights Act in 2007 by the Justice Department, and the defendant in that case was convicted of all kinds of violations of the Voting Rights Act, discrimination, also he was engaging in voter fraud. And there was testimony in that case, cited in the court decision, by a former deputy sheriff, an African American, about how he witnessed the defendant in that case outside a polling place, telling a young black woman that she should go into the polling place and vote, that she could use any name, no one would question her about it. And how could she do that? Because Mississippi doesn't have a voter ID law.
One woman trying to vote under another name (and there's no evidence in the judgment against Brown that she either attempted this or was successful at it) is the least of their problems in Noxubee County. The complaint against Brown and the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee accused the parties of, among other things, recruiting unqualified African American candidates from outside the district to run against white candidates, excluding white people from participation in Democratic Executive Committee activities/decisions, manipulating voter rolls, prohibiting white people from voting, and rejecting valid absentee ballots.
The Mississippi law being supported by von Spakovsky would require voters at the polls to present a government issued photo ID before being permitted to vote. The former DOJ attorney suggests that a voter ID requirement would prevent Brown's crimes. But how? Brown was running the polling operations in the voting district - he seemed to have no trouble picking and choosing which laws to follow, so why would von Spakovsky expect him to honor the voter ID restrictions? In fact, it stretches the boundaries of reason to believe that any laws on the books would have prevented Brown from committing the crimes of which he was found guilty.
For some unknown reason, on Friday, C-SPAN decided to host Roy Beck, executive director of anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, to talk about immigration policy. And Beck, whose strategy centers on advocating for an immigration system that will leave immigrants with no choice but to depart the United States en masse, appeared on the network's Washington Journal program unchallenged. Not once during the more than half-hour interview did he go head-to-head against an immigrants' rights activist or face off against a caller with an opposing viewpoint. This is odd considering the network and the show's stated aims.
The network states that it "does not endorse" any comments made by guests, and that hosts step in when callers make "ad hominem attacks or use indecent language or obviously racist language." Moreover, says C-SPAN, "[e]ach program strives to educate the viewing public about national issues and to learn from them." But how is airing the "heir apparent" to an "anti-immigration crusader," whose organizations have been accused of being "in bed with racist hate groups," educational or even helpful to understanding vital immigration policy?
NumbersUSA is a well-known anti-immigration organization that aims to reduce the overall numerical levels of annual legal and illegal immigration. The group was founded and funded by controversial activist John Tanton, "the anti-immigration crusader" who "spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement." According to The New York Times:
[Tanton] increasingly made his case against immigration in racial terms.
"One of my prime concerns," he wrote to a large donor, "is about the decline of folks who look like you and me." He warned a friend that "for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."
Dr. Tanton acknowledged the shift from his earlier, colorblind arguments, but the "uncomfortable truth," he wrote, was that those arguments had failed. With a million or more immigrants coming each year -- perhaps a third illegally -- he warned, "The end may be nearer than we think."
Beck has tried to downplay his close relationship with Tanton, but he nevertheless has welcomed Tanton naming him the "heir apparent" to his vast right-wing, anti-immigration network. Moreover, Beck has spoken at a conference of Tanton's Social Contract Press, a pseudo academic outfit that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists." Beck's views of immigrants are akin to Tanton's in that he doesn't think too highly of them. For instance, Beck has called them "thieves" because they "are people who came to steal a job."
C-SPAN is a public service created by the American cable television industry: To provide C-SPAN's audience access to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided -- all without editing, commentary or analysis and with a balanced presentation of points of view.
It's surprising, then, that C-SPAN has repeatedly simulcast the show of Iowa radio bigot Jan Mickelson, an apparent birther who is virulently anti-gay. In a speech at a conservative event last month that was broadcast by C-SPAN, Mickelson said that because President Obama "has left out 'equally endowed by our Creator" in his recitation of the Declaration "even after he's been told several times that he's an Arab" for doing so, his actions must be "deliberate" and are therefore "evil."
On Tuesday, C-SPAN dedicated two and a half hours of airtime to giving Mickelson's show, which he describes as "fairly right of center," a national audience.
It's unclear how a hateful voice like Mickelson's fits into the thoughtful, balanced and bipartisan tone that C-SPAN and its corporate funders say they are seeking to undertake. In a statement to Media Matters, C-SPAN declined to comment on Mickelson's rhetoric, but acknowledged that the network has aired Mickelson's show ten times as a part of their efforts in "simulcasting local radio stations... with the intent of giving national audiences a sense of local debate and discussion."
So for C-SPAN, broadcasting Mickelson's record of vitriol is justified since it is just part of the local flavor of Iowa. Below the fold are just a few of the incendiary remarks C-SPAN disregarded when deciding to provide a national platform to Mickelson's "local debate."
From C-SPAN's live coverage of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference on April 8:
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Tonight is the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, otherwise known as "nerd prom." You can watch all the insidery beltway media festivities on CSPAN - check local listings for time and channel.
For those of you on Twitter, folks will be tweeting all night under a few hashtags: #nerdprom, #whca and #whcd. I'll be at a few parties and you can follow me @KarlFrisch.
It will be interesting to see what news comes out of tonight's dinner. You may recall in 2006 how Stephen Colbert, the night's comedic entertainment, was roundly criticized for being too "tough" on President Bush. Some even said he didn't bring much laughter to the room -- I was there and my perception was a bit different... everyone seemed to love Colbert at least until the following Monday when the media finger wagging began. Of course some in the media chose to ignore Colbert entirely.
For those of you who missed it, I present to you Stephen Colbert's remarks via YouTube in three parts.
Part 1 of 3
Part 2 of 3
Part 3 of 3
On C-SPAN, Jerome Corsi, author of The Obama Nation, asserted that, if Sen. Barack Obama were elected president and someone were to write a book critical of him or to publish "a cartoon like The New Yorker," "Obama might just have to create a department of hate crimes and put them in jail."
In television appearances to promote her new book, Bay Buchanan claimed that Hillary Clinton said in a magazine article that she "didn't know" her vote in favor of the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq "was a vote for war." In fact, Clinton is not quoted as saying -- as Buchanan claimed -- that "I didn't know it was a vote for war," or "I didn't vote for war," and the article's context makes it clear that Clinton knew what the bill authorized.
On C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Washington Examiner senior White House correspondent Bill Sammon claimed that the U.S. Supreme Court halted the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election by a 7-2 margin; and that a study of the 2000 presidential vote in Florida, commissioned by a consortium of major media outlets, "concluded essentially that [George W.] Bush would have won even if the Supreme Court hadn't stopped the counting." Both of these statements are false
Keith Olbermann, appearing on C-SPAN, said: "There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all. ... There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened. On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they're happy."