Friday, February 4, 2011

Big Journalism's "Undercover Journalism" Hypocrisy Regarding ABC's John Quinoñes


Here is a big laugh - Big Journalism recently published an article by Meredith Dake attacking ABC and John Quinoñes, of recent Primetime: What Would You Do? fame, claiming Quinoñes makes a mockery of "undercover journalism" and the controversial immigration law in Arizona by engaging in a hidden camera experiment.  Dake also cries about Quinoñes' and ABC's hypocrisy of editing the undercover report while people (assumingly part of the left-wing media cabal) argue about the heavily-edited and highly misrepresentative videos of conservative activists like James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles, and Lila Rose.

First, let me point out that Quinoñes' special has not aired yet and Dake jumps to conclusions about the program's content from a brief sneak preview on ABC.  Also, Dake seems to be upset because she believes Quinoñes' has misrepresented the immigration law, claiming Quinoñes uses the "Media Matters talking point," which is heavily documented on their website (versus the paragraph or two of Dake's ranting).  Because the ABC special report goes by a different understanding of the law, Dake then decides to pick apart the preview of Quinoñes' program, claiming he showed a mall cop harrassing customers of a restaurant about their immigration (which is perfectly alright by Dake), and then edited his findings to represent the law in a negative light.
In other words, a law enforcement officer, not a mall cop, (a person who is private security for a building) – who is not a law enforcement officer or an agent of the state – must have lawful contact with a person before being able to fulfill any other provisions of this law. A mall cop can’t, with authority of the state, ask a person in a public place where he has no jurisdiction about their immigration status. A mall cop can go to a restaurant and can harass another private citizen about their immigration status and threaten to call the police, but they will be acting as a private citizen NOT as an agent of the state. If an actual officer or (or agent of the state) were to have done the same thing that this actor did in the video he would have been in direct violation of the provisions of this law.

The institutional left would have you believe that the Arizona law suddenly made immigration illegal. In fact, it simply asserts that illegal immigration is illegal and agents of the state are empowered to enforce the federal law.

So taking note the blatant attempt by ABC to continue with a conscious effort to misinform the American public about the law, ABC and Quinones seemed to have forgotten the institutional-left-media talking point that undercover investigations are deceptive and wrong. Did you see how ABC edited this footage? How do we know that they portrayed the people in this video correctly? The media consistently touts the standard that conservatives who go undercover should release the full un-edited video clips of their investigations but apparently don’t hold the same standards to themselves. We consistently heard with ACORN and now with the Live Action videos that undercover investigation with a released edited tape is shoddy journalism and “deceptive editing.”

ABC News and John Quinones show the rank hypocrisy of the main stream media. They berate college-age girls for their undercover investigations and whine about edited videos and in the same week defy their own standards. ABC’s propaganda piece not only intentionally misinformed Americans about the provisions of the Arizona law but showed that liberals rarely think the standards that they apply to conservatives should apply to themselves.
First, let me state that Dake is technically correct - according to Arizona statutes, "a person employed as a security guard or armed security guard shall not possess the authority of a regularly commissioned police or peace officer" and any duties performed by the individual shall be performed in the capacity of a private citizen.  Dake points to the language of SB1070 as proof that Quinoñes' "mall cop" can't enforce the law as a law enforcement official or agency of any political subdivision of the state, but that seems to be the only thing Dake gets correct.

Dake seems to take offense that Quinoñes uses a security guard in the video to harass customers because he is doing so to supposedly misrepresent the law, but Dake never insists in her article that a state official can't harass an individual about their immigration status, and Dake's understanding of the law's requirement for an official to have "lawful contact" with the subject comes from a National Review article by Andrew C. McCarthy, who while admits that "lawful contact" includes any "incidental interaction" insists that the Arizona law is restrictive in scope because it requires the state official to have more then just a hunch in determining whether or not to question immigration status because of the need for "reasonable suspicion that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States."
The Arizona law, by contrast, does not give a cop this latitude. Instead, the officer is permitted to attempt to determine the person’s immigration status only if, in addition to the initial contact being lawful, there also exists specific “reasonable suspicion that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” As I noted above, our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence teaches that reasonable suspicion requires specific, articulable facts — not a hunch or generalized suspicion. Thus, the Arizona law requires that there be reasonable suspicion for both the initial stop (e.g., the police officer observed erratic driving and concluded the person might be intoxicated) and for pursuing a line of inquiry about whether the person is an illegal alien.

Two more principles are instructive here. The first involves the complaint that this law may result in a person’s being found to be an illegal alien even if the reason the police officer stops him has nothing to do with his immigration status. So what? If the police stop you because you are driving erratically and they find an illegal gun in your car, you may be prosecuted for possession of the gun — the fact that the cops weren’t looking for a gun is irrelevant. Ditto if police get a warrant to search your home for stolen appliances and, while lawfully searching, find a bag of cocaine — you can be charged for violating the drug laws even though that is not what the warrant allowed the police to look for. The question is not what the police were expecting to find; it is whether they were lawfully conducting a search in the first place.

Second, all of the above takes place within the context of the the civil rights laws. Under Section 1983 of Title 42, United States Code, state law enforcement officers may be sued if they deprive a person of any rights, privileges or immunities to which the Constitution entitles him. Police officers who enforce the law in bad faith, who harrass people without a reasonable basis to believe a crime has been or is about to be committed, are liable to civil suit. The legal, financial, and professional consequences of violating the civil rights laws can be very damaging.
Despite the need for "reasonable suspicion," there does not seem to be a clear definition of what is reasonable, and McCarthy (as well as Dake) ignore that for the purpose of their agenda, but forgetting the debate over legal verbiage, Dake seems to believe that the law is right and Quinoñesis misrepresenting the law, making him a hypocrite because he is part of the "mainstream media" and the "mainstream media" have criticized "journalists" like pro-life activist Lila Rose, who recently debuted an anti-Planned Parenthood video on Andrew Breitbart's (owner of Big Journalism) websites, for using hidden camera to illustrate a point.

Also, while Quinoñes' video depicts a "security guard," by Dake's admission, Quinoñes' actors were not in violation of the law because they did not depict a state official.  How can a security guard, or "mall cop" as Dake puts it, misrepresent a law designed to impact public servants?  If you wanted to, you can maybe make the argument that security guards could have the authority under the law because they are licensed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and while the statutes state they do not possess the authority of a "regularly commissioned police or peace officer," and they are not either, they may qualify under SB1070 as representative of a "law enforcement agency," being the Arizona DPS is a state-level law enforcement agency, but that argument is a bit of a stretch.

While both videos employ actors, Quinoñes' program does not enter with a prestated mission of destroying the opposition, like Rose's - from the clip shown on ABC, he tries to illustrate the misunderstandings of the law and the effect the law has on the residents of Arizona, and at the end of the video, Quinoñes engages his "targets" to discuss their motivations behind their actions and feelings.  Rose recorded her video, went home to edit them, and then released them on the web without ever doing any further investigative work - she simply recorded numerous interviews with Planned Parenthood employees until she got the results that she wanted and then published them.  Its as the saying goes (in some form or another) - given a chimpanzee and a typewriter, a chimpanzee will one day produce a work of Shakespeare's.

Dake also argues that ABC, "by extension," is attempting to push their "East Coast" agenda using Quinoñes' program to misrepresent the law, but if Dake really wants to use that argument, what does she have to say about her boss' actions of publishing certain inadequately vetted information?  Logically, by association Breitbart's character can be displayed in the actions of his proteges, like James O'Keefe planning to sexually embarrass a well-respected journalist by attempting a seduction on a pornography-filled boat or Dr. Kevin Pezzi, who turned out to be a scam artist, inventor (who cured cancer,) and racist sexual "expert?"

Basically, it is Dake who is trying to mischaracterize the law.  I thought it was interesting to take a look at the comments of Dake's post - while she insists the law is not racist in any way and that Quinoñes is all wrong, look at the top comment left by one of Dake's readers:

Again, logically, Dake (and by extension Andrew Breitbart and the Big folks) really are racist, because as we can plainly see, Dake's audience clearly see Quinoñes as a foreigner who is just "sticking up for family members" - he was born in San Antonio, Texas, and has a masters degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.

Update - After reading some interesting articles (both for and against Lila Rose's videos), I thought there was something very interesting Rose said while appearing on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor with guest host Laura Ingraham - she stated the goal of the videos was to end abortion, and the videos are obviously trying to paint Planned Parenthood as a facilitator of illegal (and immoral) abortions, proof that Planned Parenthood needs to be shut down and federal laws challenged and changed.
Planned Parenthood claims that they made reports. But that was only after, and they say this themselves, they became suspicious that it was Live Action doing the investigation. What we have documented, Laura, is across the board. We have been documenting this for years now. They cover up- institutionally, Planned Parenthood is covering up the sexual abuse of minors and now it goes as far as aiding and abetting a prostitution ring.
Notice how Rose uses the word "claims?"

The fact of the matter is Planned Parenthood contacted the authorities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Rose also insists Planned Parenthood has been covering up incidents like the one depicted in her video for years.  Since Planned Parenthood was on to her plan, and reported the meeting to authorities after they left, how does that go "as far as aiding and abetting a prostitution ring?"

I find it even more interesting that Rose handed her videos over to Attorney General Eric Holder after Planned Parenthood contacted Eric Holder.  If you believed an organization was "aiding and abetting a prostitution ring," especially one involving children, why would you hold onto such damning evidence?

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