The New York Times “Explains” The Terms Of Immigration Reporting, Exposes Its Bias, And Then Ignores What It Concluded

My eight hours transit cross country yesterday to give a one-hour talk on bias wasn’t a total waste.. I did get to catch up on my New York Times back-up. However, the near head explosion my reading triggered was a threat to aircraft and passengers.

On March 10, page two, the Times published an ombudsman-like explanation of what terms it believes the paper should use when discussing illegal immigration. It begins,

“Illegal immigrant.” “Unauthorized immigrant.” “Undocumented immigrant.” “Illegal alien.” “Migrant.” “Noncitizen.” All of these terms, and some others, have been used in The New York Times to describe a person who has entered, lived in or worked in the United States without proper authorization — and each has been met with criticism.

The fact that terms meet with criticism doesn’t prove there is anything wrong with all the terms. Some of these terms, when used to describe illegal immigrants—and that is the correct term—are simply misleading, or so incomplete as to be useless. “Noncitizen”? A non-citizen is not necessarily illegal, nor is a non-citizen necessarily an immigrant. Ding. “Unauthorized” and “undocumented” immigrant are both euphemisms to duck the problem and the issue: the immigrant is illegal, and its not good to be illegal. The fact that the immigrant is illegal is the immigrant’s fault, not some passive bureaucratic snafu that robbed him of authorization or the documents he needs.

There is no controversy or problem here, but the Times  spends over a thousand words pretending that there is.

“In a debate as contentious as the one surrounding immigration policy in the United States, where even the most basic terminology is fraught with political implications, how do journalists decide, in a given instance, what term to apply?” Steven Hiltner whines. Uh, Steve? It’s in the Times ethics code. Just tell the truth, clearly and objectively. That means use “illegal immigrant,” period. The issue is people coming into our nation, immigrants, who do so in violation of our laws—illegally. What’s the problem?

The Times style guide, Hiltner explains, says that the term “illegal immigrant” may be considered “loaded or offensive” by “some readers.” The guide suggests “not taking sides” and using “alternatives” that describe the specific circumstances of the person in question. HOLD IT. “Illegal immigrant” isn’t loaded, or political, or partisan. It is clear English and undeniable fact. That one side of the political spectrum, for the most cynical of reasons, wants to disguise the nature of the act in question does not make telling the truth that this side of the spectrum wants to unethically obscure “loaded” or “taking sides.”  There is the pro-illegal immigration “side,” the dishonest, anti-law side, and the truth, which is the side the Times is obligated to embrace. Why should the Times care if “some people” want news sources to obscure the truth to aid and abet their agenda? Because a political party has embraced obfuscation and denial as a strategy, the Times is obligated not to allow fact to get in the way? Nonsense.

That the Times even feels like it has to engage in this navel gazing shows that it is hostage to the Left. The individuals in question are illegal immigrants, and that is what a responsible, neutral, objective and ethical newspaper should call them, so there is no confusion….even though Democrats, progressives and activists want there to be confusion.

Finally, somewhere over the Rockies, I got to the Tuesday Times, and its front page story about Iowa Congressman Steve King’s anti-immigrant outbursts over the weekend, when he said, among other things, that he’d like to see an American where everyone looks pretty much the same. Nice.

What an idiot.

This story should be easy, since King went full-Know Nothing Party (you never go full Know Nothing Prty), and was channeling Bill the Butcher from “The Gangs of New York.” In this Times story, anti-immigrant really means anti-immigrant. But no! Reporter Jennifer Steinhauer immediately set out to blur lines, because Get Trump. “Long before Donald Trump took aim at immigration, there was Representative Steve King of Iowa,” she begins.

That extensive piece four days ago about what to call illegal immigrants did NOT include the term “immigrants,” since that is wrong. Nonetheless, that’s the word the Times used on the front page today, though Donald Trump has never “taken aim” at legal immigrants and legal immigration. (His problem with inadequately vetted immigrants from pits of Islamic terrorism is a very different issue.)

In her laughable story in light of the official Times pronouncements on proper terminology, Steinhauer uses “unauthorized immigrant” (which the previous piece derided as a euphemism) and immigrant to mean illegal immigrant—all the better, I guess, to tie the President’s desire to enforce immigration laws to King’s dreams of an all-white populace. Do they have editors at the Times? Why print the previous article if the Times is going to let its journalists ignore it?

“[King] has argued vociferously, long before Trump ran for office pushing strict anti-immigration measures…” the piece continues. What “strict anti-immigration measures? Trump ran on strict anti-ILLEGAL immigration measures.  Boy, that page 2 exposition on the thoughtand care the Times puts into finding just the right words to describe illegal immigrants was flushed down the memory hole in record time! So “immigrant” is also an acceptable description of illegal immigrant, is it? Funny, that quote from the Times 368 page style guide didn’t hint at that. An oversight, I’m sure.

I can’t wait for that Times page 2 essay on “integrity.”


31 thoughts on “The New York Times “Explains” The Terms Of Immigration Reporting, Exposes Its Bias, And Then Ignores What It Concluded

  1. To have the full picture though, didn’t Congressman King go on with Chris Cuomo, where he elaborated, that we need more interracial marriage, so that in a few generations Americans would be more homogenous. I think the congressmen shouldn’t have been taking about this to begin with, because it’s such a word salad. It’s just kind of stupid. I think saying that King was talking about everybody being white might be a stretch. Do you think this is reasonable, or am I being out of line here?

    • I think that’s what he meant. The inter-marriage bit was his lame way to back-track. You can’t simultaneously say diversity isn’t all its cracked up to be AND that he wants a homogeneous US public, and credibly make the statement he made on CNN.

      • When you put it that way, his response does seem flimsy. I’ve heard some interpretations, that he was talking about cultural homogeny instead of racial. It was an exercise in putting one’s foot in one’s mouth and lends credence to the “Republicans are racist” trope. I hope somebody will remember this episode during his re-election campaign.

        • Actually, it was “Hamilton.”

          In other news, the audience at a recent showing I attended was full, and nearly 2/3 looked to be 35 and under.

          In even otherer news, have you heard Maddow scored Trump’s 2005 return? Based on the way MSNBC is touting it, she’s rediscovered the Pentagon Papers. Gross.

          • Nevermind. That was yesterday. This is what I get for not reading anything new-related for 24 hours.

            A whole TWO PAGES! Boy, she really blew the lid of this Administration. I can’t wait to hear how this is spun as Earth-shattering.

            • I suspect the new spin will be this: Trump paid more than 25% of his income in taxes? What an incompetent business person! Any decent accountant can get you below 15%! He’s a fool if he can’t get a decent accountant! He knows nothing about business.

    • Neil Dorr wrote, “Tomorrow will arrive; I promise”

      Tomorrow is a human interruption of a celestial event; therefore, in human terms, tomorrow will only arrive for those who’s last day is not today; however, in celestial terms, the sun will come up regardless if your last day is today or not. 😉 😉 😉

  2. Here is what I’m seeing.

    It’s all about how the political left frames the propaganda they’re delivering, whether they are talking about illegal immigrants vs undocumented immigrants or racism vs white privilege; they are in fact actively trying to re-frame their propaganda. The underlying messages (the picture within the frame) they are trying to get across seem to be “the same”, it’s just presented in what they think will be a prettier framework (more acceptable to the masses) to try and skew the perception of the propaganda targets – the population of the United States.


    • My belief, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Unfortunately “political correctness” is and will remain an ugly, ill-advised attempt to make something that is illegal, immoral and possibly contra-survival look less so. Possibly even make it acceptable while disguising its actual nature. Thus, it is tantamount to lying and should be rooted out and exposed to the light of day whenever and wherever it is found.

      • dragin_dragon wrote, “My belief, that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

        For some reason I knew you’d be on board with this one. 😉

        dragin_dragon wrote, “Unfortunately “political correctness” is and will remain an ugly, ill-advised attempt to make something that is illegal, immoral and possibly contra-survival look less so. Possibly even make it acceptable while disguising its actual nature. Thus, it is tantamount to lying and should be rooted out and exposed to the light of day whenever and wherever it is found.”


        Unfortunately those that are most susceptible to this kind of propaganda simply don’t know it’s happening. Some people just don’t care because they’re apathetic. Some people fall within the crowd that thinks the ends justifies the means. Overall, I think that there will be many that know that there’s “something wrong” but can’t put their finger on it, and others that figure it out but don’t know how to “combat” this kind of propaganda reframing.

        I think there is nearly a direct relationship that has shown that the “dumber” the population is the more effective propaganda is. Unethical propaganda relies on ignorant people to believe it and spread it via peer pressure. This dumbing down relationship to propaganda is one of the core beliefs of Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt book, “the deliberate dumbing down of America”; are we now beginning to really see the results of what she described?

        • Yes, we ABSOLUTELY are! The whole point of the indoctrination machines that our schools, from grade schools through graduate schools, have turned into, has been to reduce and/or marginalize the concept of ‘critical thought’. Because, you see, that’s the only way conflating “illegal immigration” with plain, old “immigration” works. This, of course, is only one example.

          • dragin_dragon wrote, “The whole point of the indoctrination machines that our schools, from grade schools through graduate schools, have turned into, has been to reduce and/or marginalize the concept of ‘critical thought’. “

            That sir is spot on!!!

        • And, I would point out that this has been going on since, roughly, the end of WWII. The progressives took a page from Hitler’s playbook. All he wanted was the children. Well, the progressives learned from him. They very quietly took over the education of the teachers, and, consequently, the elementary schools, and it went from there. Unlike Hitler, however, they were smart enough to get embroiled in any sort of conflict they couldn’t win.

          • dragin_dragon,
            It sounds like you may have actually read Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt book, “the deliberate dumbing down of America” or watched some of the interview videos. Am I right?

          • Credit must be given to the Soviets, or communists in general as well. Children were an important aspect for the state ideology. Well maybe if this whole school choice shindig works out, people can send their kids to institutions lacking the government indoctrination machine and maybe in 20 years public opinion will shift to something more tenable. That’s a lot of maybes, yeesh.

            • Aleksei wrote, “Well maybe if this whole school choice shindig works out”

              There’s more there than meets the eye, Aleksei.

              Considering that school choice is a very small percentage of K-12 education, I think 20 years maybe an underestimation. It’ll likely take longer for K-12 school choice to directly and/or indirectly influence college level professors (if it has any influence at all) and in-turn for that influence to change the education at the college level especially that of educators for the public school systems which is the key to instilling vastly more critical thinking into the public at large.

              • In that case, unless school choice becomes a constitutional amendment, we can’t even count on it. Very hard to cut back on govt, see the current ACA “repeal” debate. Another 40 years of Marxism in college most likely then. Even though the Soviets lost economically, politically, etc, the social and cultural war seems to be ongoing with no end in sight.

  3. Does a firm or individual that pays some taxes but not all required taxes mean they are not tax cheats or tax evades? Would the Times see such terms as loaded? Using the Times logic a tax cheat should simply be called a taxpayer.

    • Good analogy, Chris: I was looking for one, but was too tired when I wrote this to trust myself. It really is ridiculous. Loaded? Loaded with the relevant facts, and that’s all.

      But “some object.”

    • We can call them undocumented taxpayers.

      Let’s throw in calling companies that follow some but not all environmental laws “undocumented dischargers”.

    • We should just refer to the unlawful immigrants as “perspective citizens” or “citizens without documents” to clear up the confusion. Kind of like the time, now correct me if I am wrong, when the Obama administration tried to call criminals “justice involved persons”or something like that. Euphemisms are great!

  4. Watched Rep King on a program, trying to explain his comments, and despite him being seemingly dumb, I did take away a different opinion from his bumbling discourse. Having managed through the “Affirmative Action” period, where you didn’t actually do anything for minorities except fill out US Government paperwork, to see that morphed into “Diversity” was difficult when you look at the real needs of folks who are outside the economy and business world. I feel, like Rep. King, that “Diversity” has been used to divide us as a Nation and he seemed to want to address that, however badly. Having a Nation State with a common belief system (Constitution) a Common Language (English), and some common Laws and ideals seems to me to be a good idea. However, that’s not what is happening with “Diversity”. Schools, Colleges and Governments are using it to create a divided country (there are other factors) to create special interest groups and classes that will vote in a certain way. The Left is using this as a bludgeon to get their way, and to continue to marginalize those who don’t accept their Leftist Ideals, and to gain more control, at the Federal level of our lives. Perhaps I’ve described it badly as well, but nevertheless it’s happening. When you see folks out in the streets protesting, waving their birth country’s flags and seemingly wanting to turn the US into the country they came from, it’s frightening.

  5. the truth, which is the side the Times is obligated to embrace.

    Hahahahahahahahaha…(gasp) Hahahahahahaha

    Did you really intend that to be funny? Because it is hilarious. The Times obligated to tell the truth… /snark

    I really did laugh (snort, anyway) at my desk while reading that line.

  6. Well, embracing the truth would be the ethical thing for a real newspaper to do. But because that wouldn’t advance their crusade to bring the proper political party back to power, the Time’s mission is ” . . . winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it.”

  7. Things are not so simple.

    Jack: HOLD IT. “Illegal immigrant” isn’t loaded, or political, or partisan. It is clear English and undeniable fact.

    No. While I agree that the progressives are trying to use language for propaganda and control thought, it is more complex than you suggest. (And this is coming from a guy who uses “illegal” as a noun in a law firm composed of immigrants and immigration lawyers.

    More accurate than “illegal immigrant” is “illegal alien.” The word “immigrant” means….well, I will not re-hash the argument about Ben Carson’s remarks about slavery. Suffice it to say, “tourists” are not immigrants. They come on “non-immigrant” visas (or on a visa waiver). They are allowed to come because of their intent NOT to stay.

    Also, many would not describe themselves as “immigrants” to the extent that they do not want to naturalize. They like being Mexican; they are proud of it. They just happen to come from a long line of migrant laborers that did not have to pay attention to borders when the bureaucracy of the United States government was barely embryonic.

    These groups are not “immigrants” and describing them as “illegal immigrants” is sloppy and wrong. “Illegal tourist”? Maybe. “Illegal alien”? Better!

    But, “illegal”? Well, the law often uses different words for civil concepts and criminal concepts. “Illegal” is a criminal word, humorously co-opted by Microsoft to describe a computer function that Windows can’t perform. The civil analogue is “unlawful.” Someone who enters the country illegally has (I believe) criminal liability. A tourist or student who enters on a visa, a non-immigrant one, enters legally, breaking no law. If one overstays a non-immigrant visa, one is not (I believe) subject to criminal liability. That alien is subject to deportation (or removal), a civil (yet quasi-criminal) process, for “unlawful presence.” Such an alien has relief from deportation under certain circumstances, mostly due to the fact that the entry was legal.

    Of course, words like “undocumented” is deceptive. Students and tourists (absent a visa waiver) has a document. It would only be those who enter illegally that are “undocumented,” though even that is ultimately false, as most have documents from their home country.

    The topic is complex and precise language can demonstrate that complexity. “Illegal immigrant” and “undocumented immigrant” are both misleading. The distinction is that only the latter is intended to be so.


    • See, I see the reverse. Illegal immigrants is clear to me. Aliens are aliens, and being an alien isn’t legal or illegal—that’s the “noncitizen” bit. An alien is only illegal if he illegally immigrates.

      E.T. was a stranded alien, but not an illegal immigrant.

      • Unlike most progressives, I don’t have a problem with “illegal immigrant.” I definitely don’t like seeing the word “illegal” used as a noun, though.

        I also think “unauthorized immigrant” is fine. But “undocumented” is definitely a soft word meant to arouse sympathy and shift responsibility.

        Donald Trump has never “taken aim” at legal immigrants and legal immigration. (His problem with inadequately vetted immigrants from pits of Islamic terrorism is a very different issue.)

        He has, and it’s not. The original travel ban restricted immigration from previously legal immigrants. That is anti-immigration, not anti-illegal immigration. That he provided the thinnest of justifications for the law–citing “safety concerns” that no national security expert and no one in the DOJ thinks make the law valid, and that couldn’t even be backed up by the Trump administration’s own lawyers–does not make this less true. The current ban also restricts classes of immigrants that could previously come here legally. This is not “anti-illegal-immigration.” This is anti-immigration. We don’t even need the additional evidence of Trump’s previous statements about banning Muslim immigrants completely, or Bannon and Miller’s statements implying that a goal of this travel ban is to have fewer immigrants in the United States, though those certainly do help. But the travel ban is anti-immigrant.

Leave a Reply to Zoltar Speaks! Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.