Breaking Bias: CNN Slants Toward Obama After Amnesty Flip-Flop
In the hours immediately after the Obama administration announced it would not deport young illegal immigrants who met certain criteria, CNN invited on a parade of pro-Obama guests who applauded the President's action, including four individuals who entered the U.S. illegally and one lawyer for an illegal immigrant.
In all, from 10:30am until 4pm on Friday, MRC analyst Matt Hadro discovered, CNN interviewed eight guests who favored President Obama's new immigration policy, and only one guest who opposed it, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who appeared three times. The airtime for guests praising the President (32 minutes, 16 seconds) nearly tripled the time given to Arpaio (12 minutes, 58 seconds).
CNN also provided nine minutes of live coverage of President Obama's address in the Rose Garden on the matter, further tipping the scales toward his side of the argument.
The list of pro-Obama guests included journalist Jose Antonio Vargas who "outed" himself last year as an illegal and penned Time magazine's latest cover piece on immigration. CNN also brought on a pair of Democrats -- New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- to applaud the new policy. While the cable news network did relay the criticism from Republicans such as Representative Steve King, CNN in those hours did not bring on any national GOP official to balance the two Democrats.
Here's rundown of how CNN covered the breaking news on Friday, June 15:
# 10:36am ET: Anchor Kate Bolduan conducted a telephone interview with Gaby Pacheco, founder of the Florida-based youth-led group Students Working for Equal Rights.
ANCHOR KATE BOLDUAN: Gaby, I guess first off, what is your reaction to today's announcement?
GABY PACHECO: Kate, I wish you could see my smile. I wish that all of you could see how happy I am....Today is, I think, the happiest day of my life.
# 10:47am ET: Bolduan talked to New Jersey's Democratic Senator Robert Memendez via telephone:
Senator ROBERT MENENDEZ: I think today is a great day for all the young people who call this country their home, who have been unable to fulfill their dreams. We're certainly grateful to the president for allowing these young men and women who want to become doctors and teachers and police officers and serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. This is an announcement that will change their lives forever.
# 11:31am ET: Anchor Don Lemon had back-to-back interviews with a pro-Obama immigration attorney and the first critic of the morning, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona:
SARAH MOSHE: It's great, great news. It helps those who were -- particularly those who were brought here without the intent to violate the law....
Anchor DON LEMON: You said you're going to continue to enforce immigration laws. Does that mean that you are going to ignore what the president is going to announce today?
Sheriff JOE ARPAIO: No, I'm not going to ignore it. I'm not going to violate the Constitution or the laws. But I'm just saying that Congress should look at the situation and not let the president keep coming out with his executive orders at the time that he's running for president. It's all politics.
#12:12pm ET: Fredericka Whitfield interviewed journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who last year revealed in the New York Times that he came to the U.S. illegally.
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: This is such a big win. And it is not -- it is beyond politics.... It is a definitely a celebration. This is a definitely a celebration....
# 1:20pm ET: CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen interviewed a Colombian woman in the U.S. illegally (CNN described her as an "undocumented student"):
CNN's PAUL VERCAMMEN: Tell me, when you heard about this, what emotions went through your head?
KATHERINE TAVARAS, UNDOCUMENTED STUDENT: I was just like, I just want to cry. I'm just so happy that it is not just me, but all of my Dreamers.
# 1:27pm ET: A few minutes later, anchor Wolf Blitzer talked to another illegal immigrant:
WOLF BLITZER: Let's bring in one of those students directly impacted by this. Joining us on the phone is Jose Luis Zelaya; he's a student at Texas A&M University. Jose, you came to the country illegally from Honduras when you were only 14. You were looking for your mom. You had an abusive father in Honduras. What was your reaction when you heard of this policy change today?
JOSE LUIS ZELAYA: Yes, sir. This morning when I saw the news, I almost fainted. It was -- I was -- I am so happy, because I am a teacher, and the idea that I am going to be able to have my own classroom with my own students and to be able to change their lives as an educator just gives me so much hope in service.
#1:50pm ET: Awaiting the President's remarks in the Rose Garden, CNN brought back Sheriff Arpaio:
WOLF BLITZER: You just think it's politics. For 800,000 -- that's an estimate -- 800,000 under 30, they've been in school they came here not by force or anything. They were brought here mostly by their parents. They can study, work and be productive members of America.
Sheriff JOE ARPAIO: First of all, let Congress decide. Maybe this will get Congress angry. I doubt it. Next year, they will take this issue up. Why is the president right now and the Homeland Security secretary coming up with this policy? It's going to be hard to administer anyway. False identification -- I can go into many reasons -- to make this policy work. I'm not for it. It's a step towards amnesty. That's what this is all about. The long-range idea is to make amnesty for all those people that are in this country illegally.
# 2:20pm ET: Following the President, Blitzer returned for a reaction from Arpaio, who reiterated his earlier points:
Sheriff JOE ARPAIO: Great political speech. What happened in the past, why now? Why this time? Election year. Once again, he's right. The Congress should look into this. I hope they do make some decisions next year.
# 2:40pm ET: Anchor Brooke Baldwin brought on the Democratic Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, who sang Obama's praises:
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: Well, first of all, I couldn't be prouder of our president for doing what was right. For doing what I believe conforms and reaffirms once again that America is an embracing place.
#3:39pm ET: Anchor Brooke Baldwin talked to another woman who came to the U.S. illegally when she was a child.
BROOKE BALDWIN: The Obama administration's shift on immigration is having an immediate affect on people like Jessica Colotl. Jessica came into this country illegally with her parents when she was 10-years old....What is your visceral reaction to what you heard from the president?
JESSICA COLOTL: I was very thrilled about it when I first heard about it. I think it's positive and something the Obama administration should have done a long time ago....
-- Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.