Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post ran a February 1, 2007 story about a prostitution ring in Maryland, leaving the impression that American citizens were transporting illegal immigrant women across the U.S. and exploiting them for sexual purposes. In fact, the prostitution ring was itself run by illegal immigrants.  The omission was typical of the tendency by the Post and other media outlets to portray illegal immigrants as victims, rather than perpetrators, of crime. This is how media bias works in real life.  What makes this example of media bias even worse is that reporter Steve Vogel must have decided that including the fact that three of those who have pled guilty of running the prostitution ring were here illegally was either unimportant or took away from the message of his article. Or perhaps he simply did not take the time to gather the information before writing his story. I called Vogel to ask if those who were charged with running the prostitution ring were in the country illegally, but my call was not returned.  However, after talking to Marcy Murphy, the Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, I was able to quickly find out that three of those who have pled guilty in the case had entered the U.S. illegally.  Vogel’s brief story in the Washington Post was part of a Maryland Crime Briefing about a prostitution ring run by 65-year-old Olinda Aparicio, with help from her daughters Elsy Aparicio and Dorinalda Aparicio, her son Eliazor Aparicio, her sister Rosibel Aparicio Jandres, and her brother-in-law Manuel Jandres. The family, all of whom have pled guilty to involvement in the prostitution ring, transported hundreds of women from New York, and New Jersey, to work as prostitutes in Maryland. As Vogel put it, “The women, mostly illegal immigrants, operated from apartments and houses?” in Maryland.  But concerning those who ran the prostitution ring, he simply wrote that “The Aparicio family members would pick the women up in New York and New Jersey and drive them to Maryland to work as prostitutes for a week at a time.” He omitted the fact that three “family members” charged in the case had entered the U.S. illegally. They were Dorinalda, Eliazor and Elsy Aparicio.  A story about a prostitution ring in Maryland of several hundred girls is a big story. A prostitution ring of several hundred illegal immigrant women, run by illegal immigrants, is a bigger story. That’s the story the Post concealed from its readers.  The reason for the omission is simple: the paper does not want its readers to think negatively of illegal aliens. It wants the public to think illegal aliens are all coming here for a better life and to contribute to the public good.  This kind of bias helps explain why the illegal alien problem is out of control.

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