Accuracy in Media

Joe Klein of Time demonstrates why the media are more unpopular than the President they despise. Klein has smeared secure-borders advocate Rep. Tom Tancredo, calling him anti-immigrant, while insinuating that the Republican Party as a whole is prejudiced.

This is as cold and calculating as the media practice of referring to illegal aliens as “undocumented workers.” It is deceptive rhetoric designed to manipulate news media consumers and confuse people about the real issues.

It’s difficult to take Klein seriously and it’s tempting to dismiss what he writes as inconsequential. On the other hand, he should not be allowed to make a smear without comment. And he does write for a major weekly “news” magazine.

In the article, Klein gives readers his opinion, as if they wanted it, on how the Republicans are doing. Klein writes that the first Republican presidential debate “clarified the big problems the Republicans will have in 2008: they have no idea how to deal with the incredibly unpopular presidency of George W. Bush, and their constant summoning of a mythic Reaganite past just makes them seem … old.”

For Klein, the second debate “clarified the field—not just which candidates should be taken seriously but also how the serious candidates are likely to relate to one another.” Klein believes Romney won the first debate because “he was smooth” but lost the second debate because “he was slick.” Klein also believes Rudy Giuliani was the victor in the second debate because “he seemed forceful, after appearing uncertain in the first.”

It’s during his talk about the “also-rans” in the presidential field that he makes his utterly false comment about Tancredo and the Republican Party. Klein writes, “Both of the right-wing populists, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter, seem obscure and insubstantial…I’ve been surprised by how ineffective Tancredo has been in making his anti-immigrant pitch, which should have some resonance in the Republican Party.”

Klein falsely asserts that Tancredo is anti-immigrant while questioning why he is not more popular with Republicans. By implying that Tancredo, and Republicans in general, are racists, it forces those being attacked to defend themselves, rather than discussing the actual issue—Tancredo’s opposition to illegal immigration.

In effect, Klein is trying to marginalize Tancredo and—by extension—all Republicans.

Tancredo spokesman Carlos Espinosa told AIM: “The congressman targets illegal immigrants—he doesn’t discriminate based on where they come from. In fact, you might say he is an ‘equal opportunity opponent’ of illegal immigration.”

Espinosa added, “The Congressman has never equivocated on what ethnic group should or should not be targeted when breaking U.S. immigration laws. Representative Tancredo’s stance has always been to prosecute and deport anyone who is here illegally, regardless of what region of the world they come from. Mr. Klein is simply attempting to cloud and deceive the public by lumping in legal immigrants into the equation.”

It bears repeating: Rep. Tancredo is a strong opponent of illegal immigration, but this does not make him anti-immigrant. Klein’s characterization of him as “anti-immigrant” is a smear, pure and simple.

Rep. Tancredo believes in enforcing our current immigration laws. And that includes, as he points out, “mandatory verification of employees’ legal status, increased penalties for alien smuggling, authorized expanded cooperation on enforcing immigration law between local and federal law enforcement, and prevented frivolous lawsuits by illegal aliens.”

Tancredo says, “As I have said on innumerable occasions, hating people because of the color of their skin or their country of origin is repugnant and has no place in the immigration debate.”

He adds, “The immigration issue has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin insofar as I am concerned…join me in denouncing those who have only hate in their hearts and a perverted view of race in their minds. America has been able to assimilate millions who spoke no English, worshiped at unfamiliar altars and were of all skin colors—and we can continue to do so…”

What, Mr. Klein, is racist or anti-immigrant about these statements?

Klein’s attack on Congressman Tancredo is both wrong and repugnant. He knows better, which is why his smear is so disgusting. He knows what he is doing. It is dishonest and deliberate.

Remember that Klein’s article was not a slip of the tongue. These are Joe Klein’s thoughts and beliefs, written on paper and published in Time magazine. In the course of trying to suggest that Tancredo and the Republicans were bigots, Klein demonstrated his own intolerance and prejudice. 

If this qualifies as journalism, the journalism profession has suffered as a result.

Time magazine did not include a disclaimer that the views expressed in the column did not necessarily reflect that of Time magazine or its parent company. No, these are Klein’s views, and they are supported by Time magazine.

You can reach Time magazine at:

TIME Magazine Letters
Time & Life Building
Rockefeller Center
New York, NY 10020

(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
212-522-8949 (fax)

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.