A telling new study from Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy reveals that liberal media bias is more pronounced in immigration coverage than in any other issue. The study found that during the Trump administration's first 100 days the overall tone of coverage at major media news outlets (CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, NYT, WaPo, BBC, etc) was 80 percent negative.
Immigration was the most frequently covered topic, accounting for 17 percent of all news stories, and a whopping 96 percent of the pieces and segments were negative. The Harvard academics found that there were 30 negative stories pertaining to immigration for every one positive story. And even Fox News provided 81 percent negative coverage on the Trump administration's immigration policies.
There's no question that the Trump administration's rollout of visa bans I & II was a mess. But given the fact that illegal immigration has declined dramatically under his watch, and the fact that ICE has succeeded in removing hundreds of criminals this year, the 96 percent negative coverage figure is astonishing, even after you factor in liberal media bias.
Americans elected a president whose central campaign theme was to build a wall and enforce our immigration laws. But the front-row kids in the press corps told us that his victory had nothing to do with immigration and insisted that he won because of (pick one or all): Russian interference, the Comey letter, Clinton ignoring Rust Belt voters, and so on. A Harvard-Harris poll in February revealed that 80 percent of Americans oppose sanctuary cities, but this was ignored by the mainstream media. And despite the unremittingly negative coverage of the travel bans, most polls showed that a majority of Americans backed them.
The gulf between the elite media and the heartland has widened since Trump took office and there's no issue where the divide is more pronounced than immigration. When it comes to immigration, the American public is being subjected to one-sided coverage that gives them a wildly distorted view of reality. The truth is that we have only nominal control over our borders and our visa screening and enforcement is so inadequate and lenient that most migrants don't even need a coyote to sneak them in.
As a journalist who covers immigration along with many other topics, I've found that attempting to place op-eds supportive of immigration control in mainstream media publications is essentially a lost cause. Publications that are happy to work with me on other topics are uninterested in what I have to say about immigration, despite the fact that I have significant experience in the field from my time as a Foreign Service officer.
Just how clueless and biased is the mainstream media when it comes to immigration? Take, for example, the stubborn insistence of many journalists who refer to the travel bans as "Muslim bans" despite the fact that they applied to perhaps 10-15 percent of the world's Muslim population. Consider this telling exchange broadcast on the BBC on May 19 between Lyse Doucet, their chief international correspondent, and Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al Jubeir.
Doucet: "Do you think for the administration this [Trump visit to Saudi Arabia] will help overcome the suspicions and anger over a travel ban which was widely described as a Muslim ban?"
al Jubeir: "I think the stories about the anger were exaggerated. The United States took measures…"
At this point, Doucet, appearing annoyed with his response, interrupts to say, "Many were angry, the countries who were on that travel ban, Saudi Arabia was not, were angry that it was seen as a Muslim ban, Christians were not involved."
al Jubeir: "We can't question the right of the United States or any country in the world to decide who to allow in and who not to allow in, and we can't see [this] measure as being biased against a particular group or religion. In the United States, Islam is part and parcel of the social fabric; there are millions of Muslims living in America. And most other Islamic countries were not on that list."
What a sorry spectacle to watch a BBC correspondent spew a falsehood (that the travel ban didn't apply to Christians in the countries involved) and then try to goad a Muslim leader into being angry about a so-called "Muslim ban" before getting annoyed when he refused to bite. How is it that a Saudi diplomat can get it but our august members of the press can't seem to grasp the basic concept that countries do have a right to determine who can live within their borders?
Immigration is a complex topic, but editors don't see it as such. They let people who know nothing about visa and immigration law cover it, and rather than focus on the inadequacies of our immigration enforcement, which requires some heavy lifting, they tend to focus on personal sob stories from immigrants, which, from a reporter's perspective, is like spreading a hot knife through butter.
How do I know? As a former Foreign Service officer who writes about immigration, I get a few interview requests each month. For every one reporter I've spoken to who understands legal and illegal immigration, there are 20 who are absolutely clueless. And nearly all of them come from middle- or upper-middle-class backgrounds on the coasts, so there is no ideological diversity in their ranks.
I don't have a solution to this problem, other than to suggest that you patronize sites like this one and be very skeptical of what you see, hear, and read on immigration in the mainstream media.