Big Prison — Call Me!

By Mark Krikorian on October 29, 2010

I haven't jumped on the anti-NPR bandwagon following Juan Williams' firing — yes, it was wrong, and yes, there should be no government funding of news operations, but I like NPR and I and CIS have always been treated fairly, both by reporters and talk shows, at both the national level and regional stations.

That said, a story from yesterday reminds me why some people call it Neo-Marxist People's Radio. The "news" story tried to claim that Arizona's SB 1070 was the brainchild of the private prison industry conspiring to manipulate the political system for profit: "That's because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law."

This is so deranged it borders on trutherism. This supposed conspiracy was hatched at "a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council," or ALEC. ALEC is a group of state legislators, businesses, and scholars devoted to implementing conservative principles at the state level, and noted for preparing model legislation on just about every topic you could name. It's so "secretive" that its website lists all the members of its various boards and committees, its events and initiatives and publications, its state chairmen, staff, model legislation — if that's secretive, I'm Kemal Ataturk. What the reporter seems to mean is "ALEC, a group I'd never heard of…," which ignorance, if true, is a pretty bad sign for a journalist.

Of course, the simplest explanation is that Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, who sponsored the legislation, is the one who came up with the idea. In fact, that's what he told NPR:

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce says the bill was his idea. He says it's not about prisons. It's about what's best for the country.

But then the reporter says:

But instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.

In that menacing conference room was a meeting of ALEC:

. . . a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the National Rifle Association. Another member is the billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country.

Big Tobacco! Big Oil! Big Guns! And now, Big Prison!

This stupid, puerile piece has, of course, been picked up by the usual open-borders suspects. For instance, the National Immigration Forum, the umbrella group for the anti-enforcement, mass-immigration lobby, writes that "the true motives behind the controversial Arizona's immigration law were not about increasing security or addressing Arizona's immigration problems, the goal was to enhance the prison industry's bottom line." This from a group whose board of directors includes representatives of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Midwest Groundcovers LLC!

A print reporter wrote me in an e-mail, "You know, you guys really should have told me you were just a front for Big Prison." I wish! Please, Big Prison, call me — donations to the Center for Immigration Studies are tax-deductible!