CNN Again Omits Pro-Illegal Immigration Stance of 'Public Defender'
Published: 7/7/2010 5:02 PM ET
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN's Tony Harris omitted the pro-illegal immigration activism of guest Isabel Garcia, just as his colleague Suzanne Malveaux did more than two months earlier. Harris twice referred to Garcia as merely the "deputy public defender in Pima County, Arizona," and didn't mention her involvement in the beating and decapitation of a pinata effigy of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The anchor brought on the activist, as well as Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the author of the state newly-passed anti-illegal immigration law, for two segments starting 10 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour. After asking Senator Pearce's position on the federal government's new lawsuit against the enforcement of his law, Harris turned to the public defender: "Isabel, you've been patient. Weigh in here."
Garcia (her pro-illegal immigration organization, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, whose website features a logo incorporating the southwestern states into Mexico, was identified on-screen as the "Human Rights Coalition") immediately went on the offense against Pearce, playing the race/ethnicity card against the Republican politician:
GARCIA: This is not about protecting anybody from Arizona. (Pearce laughs) In fact, if Mr. Pearce were responsible, he would, in fact, want to protect us and protect our values in this country. Clearly, this is a supremacy issue. I mean, it's preposterous that he argued that the federal government doesn't have the exclusive jurisdiction on this very complicated area of law. Certainly, Arizona cannot simply regulate immigration- and he is trying to regulate immigration. As much as he tries to hide it over and over, he knows full well that they have created a new offense of not having your documents with you. And the issue of racial profiling, that he can just wipe it away so easy- well, it's because you're a white person, Mr. Pearce.The state senator didn't get a chance to reply to Garcia's racially-charged accusation because the anchor then broke for commercials.
PEARCE: Oh, what an idiot.
GARCIA: You don't have any qualms about racial profiling at all. You should be concerned about our liberties in this country. You should be concerned about the facts. The facts are that immigrants are an absolute plus to our economy- always have been. That's why we have 11 million undocumented people here, not because we're giving give-outs, like you're saying. In fact, it's the exact opposite. Immigrants contribute much more than they ever take out in health care, in educational costs, in anything. You look at any credible study, Mr. Pearce- which you should, because you're an elected official- you should have a real body of evidence before you start talking and endanger our entire community and endanger our country.
After the break, Harris asked Pearce, "You acknowledge that it, at some point, becomes a federal issue, and we're here because the government hasn't done enough in this area. And I'm curious, are you as angry at Congress- all of Congress- for not enacting new immigration legislation- and that is Republicans, Democrats and independents?"
Once Pearce answered, Harris asked Garcia a similar question, but one from the left: "We've got a list of 11 Republican senators who voted for immigration reform in 2006 who aren't doing much in the way of leadership on this issue at all right now....But Democratic leadership on this issue isn't moving it forward as well. Do you have any anger right now for Speaker Pelosi, Senate Leader Reid? This was supposed to be the year for comprehensive immigration reform."
Near the end of her reply, the pro-illegal immigration activist proffered a conspiracy theory on the issue:
GARCIA: Well, really, the responsibility lays not only in all the people you have mentioned, but in previous administrations, from Clinton, to the Bush administration, to the present Obama administration- is their inability to articulate the truth to the American public that we have caused the situation.
One might be inclined to add Garcia's out-there theory to the likes of 9/11 "trutherism" and "birtherism," and all Harris had to say in response was "oh my"?
Mr. Pearce talks about people not following the laws. Let me tell you, Mexicans, specifically, and other immigrants, have followed the rules. You know what the rules have been for 100 years? Come into the country in an unauthorized fashion so you can build our country. Do you really think we've got 11 million people that are benefitting so profusely from give-outs? Absolutely not. We depend on these 11 million people to feed us, to clothe us, to house us, and Mr. Pearce should be thanking them rather than demonizing them, because Arizona was selected by the federal government. It was no accident. This is not occurring because the federal government has not acted. It's the opposite.
HARRIS: Okay. Got you.
GARCIA: It's because they funneled everybody through Arizona to elect the likes of Mr. Pearce-
HARRIS: Oh my.
GARCIA: In order to become a laboratory for everything that's anti-immigrant.
Neither Harris, nor Malveaux during the April 23, 2010 interview, brought up the activist's participation in a 2008 protest where the pinata effigy of Sheriff Arpaio was beaten and decapitated and where she carried the figure's head down the street. Only CNN anchor Anderson Cooper fairly questioned the "public defender" on the incident during an October 2009 segment where she appeared with Arpaio.
-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.