CNS' Anti-Immigration Bias
CNSNews.com repeatedly describes comprehensive immigration reform as "amnesty" -- even as it concedes it's a term used only by critics of reform.
By Terry Krepel
The dictionary defines "amnesty" as "a general pardon for offenses, esp. political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction." The implication is that there are no preconditions before the amnesty is given.
CNSNews.com, has reported (on April 29 and July 1) that "amnesty" is a term used by "critics" and "opponents" of comprehensive immigration reform -- even though the “pathway to citizenship” advocated by supporters of immigration reform does not fit the definition of amnesty. Indeed, in the July 1 article, writer Edwin Mora quotes Obama defining his immigration reform plan: "We have to demand responsibility from people living here illegally. They must be required to admit that they broke the law. They should be required to register, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English."
That doesn't sound like "amnesty." So why does CNS insist on uncritically portraying immigration reform as "amnesty" when it does not meet the definition of the word?
Over the past year or so, CNS has repeatedly done this:
Such pejorative labeling is part of CNS' overall anti-immigration policy. Another, as illustrated in the examples above, is the use of the term "illegal alien." The National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls the term "degrading" because "it casts them as adverse, strange beings, inhuman outsiders who come to the U.S. with questionable motivations. 'Aliens' is a bureaucratic term that should be avoided unless used in a quote."
And an Aug. 17 article by Adam Cassandra paraphrased "a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza" saying that "The United States cannot deport all 12 million illegal aliens in the United States and should stop trying." But no quote from the spokeswoman shows her using the term "illegal aliens."
CNS even tried to drag the immigration issue into the debate over health care reform. In a Sept. 9, 2009, article, Fred Lucas insisted that Obama's claim that illegal immigrants will not be covered by health care reform has been "debunked" because "the proposal provides no mechanism for verifying legal status, making it difficult for insurers and medical personal to know who legally qualifies for federal subsidies under the plan."
PolitiFact.com looked into the claim that lack of a verification mechanism means that illegal immigrants will automatically receive health insurance under reform and found it to be only "half true":
There is explicit language in the House bill that says illegal immigrants should not receive the subsidized benefits. But we find the Republican conference is right that the legislation does not directly mention verification procedures and, for that reason, it's possible that illegal immigrants who are determined to beat the system might be able to get around the ban. But it's likely that the IRS would, at least indirectly, help to police that. And, the health choices commissioner would have the authority to set up a verification system. On balance, we rate the Republican claim Half True.
Nevertheless, a Sept. 10, 2009, article by Jeffrey devised an entirely new rationale of why Obama's claim is false:
It is true that both the House and Senate health care bills as they are now drafted would make illegal aliens ineligible for federally funded health care. But President Obama has stated as recently as last month at a press conference in Mexico that he will seek “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation that will put illegal aliens on a “pathway to citizenship.”
A Sept. 16, 2009, article by Matt Cover gave away the whole thing in its overly long headline: "[Steny] Hoyer Won't Answer Directly Whether Immigration Reform Would Make Current Illegal Aliens Eligible for Federally Subsidized Health Insurance Under Obamacare." Cover followed up the next day in the same vein, asking other senators "whether people who are currently illegal aliens in the United States would become eligible for health insurance subsidies under the proposed health-care reform plan if they were made into legal residents and put on a pathway to citizenship by an immigration reform bill."
CNS then latched onto what it seems to consider its smoking gun on the non-issue: a statement at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute that, as summarized in a Sept. 18, 2009, article by Nicholas Ballasy, "Illegal immigrants would not get government funded health insurance under his health care reform, but said the debate over that plan underscores the need to legalize illegal immigrants so they can get that coverage."
CNS' mission statement claims that "CNSNews.com endeavors to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story and debunk popular, albeit incorrect, myths about cultural and policy issues." But by using slanted, pejorative terms like "amnesty" even as it admits such terms are used by only one side of the issue, CNS is perpetuating a myth, not debunking it. And CNS' claim that it's "an alternative news source that would cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission" is undermined by its own exploitation of that very same bias.