PBS Frontline Documentary a Good Example of Media Transforming Facts to Fit Their Narrative

By John Miano on October 30, 2019

I rarely write about the illegal immigration problem. The immigration system is so screwed up that the government's abuse of the American people through guestworker programs keeps me nearly totally occupied.

However, a reader alerted me to the recent PBS Frontline documentary, "Zero Tolerance". The actual documentary has little value except to provide fuel to stoke the anti-Trump hatred of Huffington Post readers. However, the Frontline editors did make a valuable contribution by providing raw footage of interviews conducted for the documentary. Watching the interviews before watching the documentary will give you a good idea of how the elite media transforms the facts to fit their narrative.

Frontline posted 38 interviews in all, some as transcripts only, but 16 of them included video, most of which are about an hour long (including the interview with CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian). Getting through them all takes an investment in time. Most of the interviews are easy to get through, many start slowly and then pick up as the interviewee gets comfortable, a few are quite tiring, and one is a nonstop whine.

As a starting point, the most entertaining interview is with Ann Coulter. She focuses on Trump's tragic flaw as president: horrible staffing choices. (Seriously, President Trump, when you campaign on ending the replacement of Americans with H-1B workers and then make a lobbyist for H-1B bodyshops the head of policy at DHS, you have really screwed up.) Coulter addresses Trump's serial bungled appointments of people who opposed his agenda into key positions. As you might expect, she does this with her signature diplomatic tact so that no one will be offended.

The next interview for your consideration is with Ronald Vitiello, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Vitiello had been a career law enforcement official at the agency who rose through the ranks. The full interview is here, but you can get a quick summary from the last few minutes of it, queued up here.

Vitiello's interview undermines the central theme of the documentary and contradicts points made by other interviewees. Points Vitiello made include:

  • The Zero Tolerance policy would be a benefit to Customs and Border Patrol.
  • It was clear Zero Tolerance was working.
  • Word had gotten out to the Central Americans that if you bring children, you would be allowed to enter the United States.
  • The caravan crisis was real.
  • A wall would be effective.
  • Trump has energized the law enforcement system in a way he had never seen before and law enforcement was appreciative of his efforts.
  • The drug cartels have figured out how to exploit the U.S. immigration system.
  • No one has done more to fix the problem at the border than President Trump.
  • Congress needs to act to solve the problem.

Keep those points in mind as you watch the other interview videos and the ultimate documentary that "investigates how President Trump turned immigration into a powerful political weapon that fueled division and violence" (which reminds me why I do not watch PBS). In any event, I hope to address some of the other interviews and the documentary as a whole in the future.