Racist Group Plies Journalists With Honors, Cash

Steven T. Jones and Sarah Phelan are reporting (San Francisco Bay Guardian online, 6/19/09) on San Francisco Chronicle immigration reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken’s acceptance of “an award and cash prize (he refuses to say how much) from the Center for Immigration Studies–which a Southern Poverty Law Center report in February 2009 criticized for its overtly racist roots and extreme anti-immigrant agenda”:

Van Derbeken and Ken Conner, the Chron‘s assistant managing editor for news (whom the reporter consulted before accepting the award), told the Guardian that they see nothing wrong with accepting the award and they don’t see it as validating the views of a group that has been desperately seeking mainstream credibility with which to push its anti-immigrant agenda.

Somewhat confusingly, Van Derbeken claims of his smiling acceptance at the public ceremony, “No one should mistake their decision to endorse my work for my endorsement of theirs.” But the group’s appreciation for his work does make sense, considering that the stories they specifically laud “have been roundly criticized by immigrant rights groups as inflaming anti-immigrant sentiments and allowing policies that punish the innocent and divide families.”

While “Conner both cited the fact that past recipients of the award included the Washington Post and Dallas Morning News,” the Bay Guardian writers note that

that’s true, but over the last six years since immigration has become such a hot button issue, the awards have gone mostly to right-wing publications and scary nativists. Three of the last six awards have gone to writers for the Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper created by Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

And, in case you had any more doubts about what’s going on here: “The ultra-conservative National Review and anti-immigrant television commentator Lou Dobbs also [are] among the recent recipients.” See the cover feature of the current issue of FAIR’s magazine Extra: “Media Patrol the Border” (6/09).