In a week in which immigration has unquestionably been the big story, how did Newsweek choose to frame the issue? The national security implications of a porous border, perhaps? The impact on our economy of millions of illegals, some of whom work, some of whom are a drain on social services? Come on. We're talking the magazine whose most visible reporter is Eleanor Clift. Newsweek chose to focus on . . . the plight of illegal immigrants, with its cover blaring "Illegals Under Fire".
Consider that editors scrutinize every word on the cover of a national newsweekly for its implications and impact. They didn't choose "Under Fire" randomly. With its allusions to lethal force, and printed in red, Newsweek was sending a not-so-subliminal message.
Then there was the lead story by Arian Campo-Flores. Of all the millions of immigrants, whose story did Campo-Flores choose to feature? Why, that of Irma Palacios. The story's very first sentence describes "a scar on her right wrist left by the acid secretion of citrus trees." Sympathetic credentials thus established, we're informed that Palacios is now the director of Mi Familia Vota. And what is that? Why, a 'civic-engagement program' of none other than the hard-left organization that goes by the misnomer of People for the American Way.
Yup, just your typical immigrant. Or at least, the kind of immigrant Newsweek reporters would hang out with and feature in cover stories.
Oh, to be sure, Newsweek provided balance. Why there was even an interview with Lou Dobbs, who on his nightly CNN show has been leading the charge for tougher border security and controls on illegal immigration. But even before the first question was asked, Newsweek sought to cut the legs out from under Lou with this cynical paragraph:
"The venom is paying off. In the first quarter of 2006, total viewership for "Lou Dobbs Tonight" was up 24 percent over the same period a year earlier. But even as he revels in new success, the anchor is receiving his own fair share of criticism, most of it from media critics who call him an anti-immigration zealot."
So what is it: Newsweek, or Noticias Semanales?
Finkelstein, who lived and worked in Mexico City for 21/2 years, now lives in Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle'. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org