Networks Let Obama Escape Blame for Yet Another Crisis of His Making
On Tuesday, Univision’s Jorge Ramos did something his colleagues at the Big Three networks have been reluctant to do. He pinned the blame for the ongoing border crisis squarely on Barack Obama’s immigration policies.
Writing in the June 24 edition of Miami’s El Nuevo Herald (translation courtesy of MRC Latino’s Ken Oliver-Mendez), Ramos blasted the President: “This crisis of children is an unfortunate consequence of the immigration policies of President Obama. First, in concentrating his deportations on ‘criminals’ it became clear he wasn’t going to deport adolescent children. Second, upon offering the ‘deferred action’ protection (DACA) to more than half a million Dreamers - or undocumented students - there’s the hope that he will keep treating recently arrived minors with the same generosity. And third, the reality is that the majority of the 24,000 children detained last year have not been deported, and neither, surely, will the 90,000 of 2014.”
Since coverage began on June 8 the Big Three networks have done their best to avoid blaming Obama for scores of unaccompanied children illegally crossing the U.S. border. From June 8 through June 26 ABC, CBS and NBC have offered a total of 31 stories on the border crisis, on their evening and morning shows, and in only 5 (16 percent) have they brought up Obama immigration policies as a contributing factor to the crisis.
CBS had the most amount of border stories with 16 and in two of those stories brought up Obama immigration policy as a possible cause but only to knock down those theories. On the June 10 CBS Evening News Vicente Arenas reported: “It’s also thought some parents wrongly believe policy changes made by President Obama prohibit young, illegal immigrants from being deported.” Then on the June 20 Evening News, CBS’s Anna Werner passed along the following spin:
ANNA WERNER: The White House blames the surge of border crossings on what it calls a deliberate misinformation campaign by Central American smugglers. Raul Ortiz is a deputy chief Border Patrol agent.
RAUL ORTIZ: We’re hearing through some of our intel sources that they’re telling the population down there that if you come to the U.S., you know, perhaps you’re going to get released, which is not the case. They’re not going to be afforded any new benefits right now than they would have received a month ago or two months ago.
NBC News came in second with 11 total stories on the border crisis and brought up immigration policy as a contributing factor in two of them. NBC’s Mark Potter, on the June 20 Nightly News reported: “In a letter to the President, [House Speaker John Boehner] said, ‘The policies of your administration have directly resulted in the belief by these immigrants that once they reach U.S. soil they will be able to stay here indefinitely.’” NBC’s Stephanie Gosk, on the June 24 Nightly News, didn’t attach Obama’s name to policies that were creating a climate for the crisis but did pass along: “Under current immigration law, adults are detained and deported. But unaccompanied minors are treated differently. They’re passed along to health and human services and then on to guardians in the U.S. while they wait for deportation hearings. In other words, they stay for months or even years....Some in Congress worry allowing unaccompanied minors to stay is creating a misconception.” Gosk then ran a clip of Republican Congressman Peter King wondering: “If I were a parent in Guatemala, wouldn’t I see that being a free pass?”
ABC has all but ignored the human tragedy happening along the U.S.-Mexican border, filing just three total stories on their evening and morning shows. However, Obama’s policies were brought up as a possible cause when ABC’s Ryan Smith, on the June 20 edition of Good Morning America, briefly noted: “White House critics blame lenient U.S. immigration policies for the crisis.”
— Geoffrey Dickens is Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.