Let me state from the start that I enjoy Politico, the brash newcomer at the junction of journalism, New Media, and politics. However, they have hit bumps in the road since their inception in trying to parse the line between reporting and opinion, and today the wheels came off the wagon. Gebe Martinez initially appears to report on a purported brewing controversy between Katie Couric and Latinos, but it becomes apparent that Martinez is offering an opinion column on immigration policy using Couric as a dodge:
The Latino-led action against CBS comes at a critical time. The rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric, hate crimes against Latinos and election-year political pandering on immigration has caused Hispanic leaders to forcefully push back against the scapegoating that touches immigrants and various generations of Latinos.
NCLR, MALDEF and the National Hispanic Media Coalition now have websites aimed at correcting “inaccuracies” in the media. The CBS broadcast is serving as the latest example of unbalanced reporting.
In its written complaint to CBS, MALDEF cited a Texas comptroller’s study noting economic benefits due to the presence of undocumented immigrants. MALDEF also maintained the CBS report exposes the woman “and implicitly leads her to believe that she is protected from deportation.” And it portrayed birthright citizenship as “an unfair benefit to immigrants rather than a core principle” of constitutional law.
One gaping hole in the news story involved a hospital administrator’s statement that the facility has “uncompensated care of over $200 million a year,” which the reporter tied to emergency room care for non-citizens. But how is that known if the hospital does not verify citizenship or legal vs. illegal immigration status?
Civil rights leaders also contended Couric’s broadcast was inconsistent, not just because of her brand as “America’s sweetheart” but also because, in June, she is to receive the 2008 Alice Award, named for Alice Stokes Paul, the women’s suffrage leader and author of the Equal Rights Amendment.
In fact, Martinez supplies one unsupported charge after another without providing any evidence to support his opinions. A rise in hate crimes against Latinos? An increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric from who — John McCain? Where is the reference? Where is the supporting data? Martinez scolds CBS for not vetting a hospital administrator’s on-air statement for the same thing, a lack of supporting material, but Martinez never bothers to research the $200 million figure and its methodology, either to prove it false or true.
In fact, Couric really isn’t the focus of Martinez’ claim. It serves as a Trojan horse for Martinez’ own political pet cause. He wants to grab readers by offering a little dish about Couric’s already-teetering career as a news anchor to then spend most of his article arguing against the border-security lobby. This becomes obvious when the only immigration organizations Martinez chooses to contact in this article are MeCHA and the National Council of La Raza. That certainly screams “balance”!
If Martinez and Politico want to offer factless argument and invective, let them run it as an honest opinion column and quit hiding behind Katie Couric’s skirts.