The Times made another of its selective ventures into journalist fact-checking, and again focused on Lou Dobbs, the one journalist on the "wrong" side of the debate over illegal immigration and one of the few journalists the Times ever deigns to critique- always based on his refusal to abide illegal immigration.
Wednesday's Metro story, "Lou Dobbs Crusades Against Spitzer's Driver's License Plan for Illegal Immigrants" by Nicholas Confessore on Dobbs' latest crusade on his CNN news program "Lou Dobbs Tonight" - against New York State Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to make driver's licenses available to illegal immigrants.
Confessore wrote for the liberal American Prospect magazine before joining the Times. Last year, he produced an embarrassing piece on Katrina "victim" Donna Fenton, who was arrested for welfare fraud and grand larceny days after his sympathetic profile of her appeared. The stories she'd told Confessore were totally untrue, yet he had failed to confirm them.
Confessore on Dobbs:
"Mr. Dobbs, a pinstriped journalist turned populist crusader against illegal immigration, is not a fan.
"'It's an abuse of power!' Mr. Dobbs thundered. 'He is being absolutely irresponsible. When the governor of New York embarks on this kind of irresponsibility, it is national news as far as I'm concerned.'
"And when Mr. Dobbs - whose broadcast is CNN's second-highest-rated show - speaks, many people listen. His relentless mockery of Mr. Spitzer's decision has thrust the driver's license policy onto the national stage, helping fuel an uproar not only among New Yorkers, but among national groups opposed to illegal immigration as well."
The Times doesn't mention a new poll from Siena College released Monday showing the overwhelming majority of respondents oppose Spitzer's plan (72% against, 22% in favor).
Confessore interviews a Democrat and lets him whine about hostile e-mail messages.
"But not everyone who goes on gets supportive e-mail messages.
"José M. Serrano, a Democratic state senator who represents parts of Manhattan and the Bronx, appeared with Mr. Golden to defend Mr. Spitzer's policy, but found himself under a verbal barrage from both the host and his fellow guest. 'Oh my goodness, that was something else,' Mr. Serrano said. 'I think it was my first time on national television. I wound up debating both of them - Lou paid very little attention to Marty Golden and instead just kind of dug in on me."
"This next morning, Mr. Serrano said, his office was bombarded with angry e-mail messages from around the country.
"'One guy wrote, 'We will derail the illegal gravy train from within,'' he said. 'I don't really know what that means. Another person said, 'Go back to Mexico, you're obviously Mexican.' (Mr. Serrano is from Puerto Rico.) 'I'm not naïve, but I was still surprised at the level of ignorance,' Mr. Serrano said.
Of course, Republican and conservative activists never get these from liberals after TV appearances.
And would it be paranoid to question the Times' previously hidden sensitivity to the journalistic accuracy of other media outlets, at least when it comes to journalists making conservative points?
"(Mr. Dobbs's correspondents have also stated on the air that illegal immigrants will need only a foreign passport to obtain a driver's license, and that Mr. Spitzer's policy was instituted through executive order, neither of which is true.)"