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Driver's licenses and media bias in the Volunteer State

By A. C. Kleinheider
web posted July 2, 2001

When people suggest that there is a "liberal bias" in the press I often dismiss it. I rationalize that individuals who choose a career in journalism tend to be a certain type of person and thus tell stories through a certain prism that is certainly distinctive and "liberal" but not really conspiratorially "biased" or agenda-driven. In the last few weeks Nashville's daily fish wrap, the Tennessean, dramatically turned me around on the issue of "bias."

The Tennessean's coverage of a new law that allows people to obtain driver's licenses without a Social Security number is appalling. The coverage is so slanted in favor of illegal aliens it is obscene. News stories are supposed to be as objective as possible but after reading "diversity" reporter Monica Whitaker's ongoing coverage of this fiasco (and her various little feel-good sidebars on the immigrant's plight in Nashville) one would have to be a moron not to deduce her personal sympathies on this issue. One of the more glaring examples of this came, before the passage of the bill, when she decided to feature a quote from Representative Mike Turner as the dramatic conclusion to one of her slanted articles, "I don't know any organizations except the Klan that's against this bill."

After the bill's passage, of course, we found that statement was not only unfair and inflammatory but also patently false. Many Tennesseans were and are not only opposed to the bill but are livid that the State of Tennessee is now providing documentation to a good portion of the illegal population of Middle Tennessee and the South. One need only to go down to one of Nashville's many driver's license testing stations and see the long lines of Latino illegals eager to receive documentation that will allow them to more easily "pass" as legal.

So, how does the ol' hometown paper editorialize on the new law that is so obviously both a legal and logistical nightmare? They proclaim the law needs an "adjustment." I think maybe it is the Tennessean editorial board that needs the adjustment. Big time. The editorial board says, "that a lot of unlicensed drivers have been on the road. Now, they're coming forward for licenses". Not really. It is more like a lot of undocumented aliens have been on American soil illegally. Now, they're coming forward to receive a document that is one of the primary sources of identification in The State of Tennessee and the United States of America.

As if the news stories and the editorials are not enough, Tennessean columnist Tim Chavez felt the need to chime in not once, but twice. In columns on the fourteenth and seventeenth of June, Chavez's main focus is to attack courageous State Senator Marsha Blackburn, who is spearheading the call for a repeal of the license law. Both columns subtly attempt to link Ms. Blackburn to "anti-immigration fever" and the bigotry that is "creeping into the complaints over the law." I have no doubt there are some people that are anti-immigration who may be bigoted or guilty of the occasional "race-bait". However, Chavez's two-part hit piece on Blackburn does a little baiting of its own. Chavez refers repeatedly and excessively to the fact that Ms. Blackburn is from Brentwood and that she represents the "11th most affluent county in the country". Someone needs to ask Mr. Chavez what the difference is between perpetuating stereotypes about Latinos and the portraying Senator Blackburn as a stereotypical, out-of-touch, rich white lady.

OK, we've established that both the Tennessean's news and editorial sections are marks for the immigration lobby. Surely though, the voice of the people will be heard via the Letters to the Editor section, right?. Not so fast. While a few anti-immigration letters have gotten through, they are few and far between. Most of the letters selected by the paper reflect the paper's editorial position especially those that grace its "five-star" space reserved for "exceptional" letters. The final straw for me was when the Tennessean published a pro-license law letter from a Mexican government official. Mexican nationals and illegal aliens should have absolutely no say in the immigration policy of the United States or the State of Tennessee. The Tennessean should see this. Unfortunately, its bias makes it blind.

A. C. Kleinheider writes from Nashville, Tennessee. He can be reached by e-mail at kleinhac@excite.com




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