During Dana Bash report, CNN on-screen text labeled immigration bill "amnesty"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

During the June 7 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, while CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash was reporting on Senate deliberations of an immigration bill, CNN included two separate on-screen texts referring to the bill as "amnesty" and the "amnesty bill," respectively, even though Bash herself has noted in previous reporting that "amnesty" is a characterization of the bill favored by "conservative critics." In fact, when CNN's The Situation Room had aired the same report earlier that day, it had used the less inflammatory descriptor "Immigration Bill" as its on-screen text, suggesting that Dobbs' program was responsible for adding editorial commentary during what was ostensibly a CNN news report.

The first caption read: "Make or Break: Critical Vote on Amnesty," while the second stated: "Senate Likely to Vote Tonight on Whether to Kill Amnesty Bill."

Contrary to the on-screen texts, Bash referred to the bill in her report as "the bipartisan immigration bill."

On the May 18 edition of CNN Newsroom, Bash presented a report in which she quoted Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) saying, "We must meet certain enforcement and security triggers that will let everyone know that we are serious about enforcing our laws and that we're not going to repeat the 1986 amnesty," before noting that "a host of conservative critics labeled it amnesty, vowed to block it, and said McCain and other supporters would pay a price."

During the 4 p.m. ET hour of the June 7 edition of The Situation Room, CNN had aired Bash's immigration report, but in that version, the on-screen text read: "Immigration Bill on Life Support; Setbacks in Senate."

From the June 7 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

BASH: Well, [host] Lou [Dobbs], tonight, we are expected to learn the fate of the immigration bill. The Senate has been debating for about two weeks. Senators will cast a procedural vote, and if that fails, the Senate majority leader vowed the bill is over with, the bill is gone.

[begin video clip]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Majority leader.

BASH: A pessimistic prognosis for the bipartisan immigration bill.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV): This bill isn't going anyplace, but it's not our fault.

BASH: Senate Democratic leaders want a final immigration vote by week's end. To make that happen, they're trying to limit debate, saying two weeks is enough.

Not fair, say Republicans, who argue senators need more opportunities to change the controversial bill.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): This is no small matter. It's a big issue, a big problem, and it requires broad bipartisan cooperation to bring a bill like this to conclusion.

BASH: Democrats are already warning that a collapse of the immigration compromise crafted with Republicans and the administration would rob President Bush of victory on an issue that tops his agenda.

REID: The headline's going to be "Democrats vote to continue the bill, Republicans vote against it -- the president fails again."

BASH: But other senators say they are the ones who will look bad if the highly publicized immigration bill fails.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS): If we can't do this, we ought to vote to dissolve the Congress and go home and wait for the next election. Can't we do anything anymore?

Are we men or mice? Are we going to slither away from this issue and hope for some epiphany to happen? No. Let's legislate. Let's vote.

[end video clip]

BASH: And as we speak, senators are furiously meeting all over the Capitol, trying to find a way to avoid this immigration bill collapsing. In fact, right now, there is a meeting in the Republican leader's office in the Senate. He's got opponents of this immigration bill in there.

They're trying to find a way to whittle down the number of amendments that they want to offer to change this immigration bill, and we're told, Lou, that it could be as many as 300 they're trying to whittle this number down from.

DOBBS: How can, Dana, either senators of either party look at their constituents with a straight face, knowing that this bill provides no support for customs and immigration enforcement for Citizenship and Immigration Services -- all necessary to actually administering the law in this country -- doesn't provide as a condition precedent to any of this border and port security, and talk, as Senator Trent Lott just did, like it was some sort of macho contest when there hasn't been a single public hearing on this legislation?

BASH: Well, that's kind of a hard question to answer, Lou. I can tell you that that is the kind of -- maybe a little bit different language -- but that is the kind of complaint that you are hearing from some of the opponents of this legislation, especially the Republicans, who say, hold on a minute. Yes, we've had two weeks to debate this and we've had a chance to offer several amendments that we think will make this -- from their perspective -- better, but they say they've got a lot more and they want more time to debate it.

DOBBS: All right, Dana. Thank you very much -- Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

Opponents of illegal alien amnesty won a critically important victory in the Senate by just one vote. Senators supported an amendment to restrict the proposed guest-worker program. A huge setback for big business interests, which had been aggressively lobbying for more, and, of course, for wide open borders.

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the June 7 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BASH: Well, [host] Wolf [Blitzer], to illustrate the state of immigration right now in the Senate, I want to put something up on the wall next to me. It's something that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said today. He said, "The bill's over with. The bill's gone."

That, he said, if, in fact, a procedural move that we expect by early evening fails -- now, this is something that was obviously a tactical move by the Senate majority leader in order to sway votes as we build up towards that particular vote -- but it is also pretty clear at this time that whether or not immigration lives or dies will probably be decided by the end of the day.

[begin video clip]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Majority leader.

BASH: A pessimistic prognosis for the bipartisan immigration bill.

REID: This bill isn't going anyplace, but it's not our fault.

BASH: Senate Democratic leaders want a final immigration vote by week's end. To make that happen, they're trying to limit debate, saying two weeks is enough.

Not fair, say Republicans, who argue senators need more opportunities to change the controversial bill.

McCONNELL: This is no small matter. It's a big issue, a big problem. And it requires broad bipartisan cooperation to bring a bill like this to conclusion.

BASH: Democrats are already warning that a collapse of the immigration compromise crafted with Republicans and the administration would rob President Bush of victory on an issue that tops his agenda.

REID: The headline is going to be "Democrats vote to continue the bill, Republicans vote against it -- the president fails again."

BASH: But other senators say they are the ones who will look bad if the highly publicized immigration bill fails.

LOTT: If we can't do this, we ought to vote to dissolve the Congress and go home and wait for the next election. Can't we do anything anymore?

Are we men or mice? Are we going to slither away from this issue and hope for some epiphany to happen? No. Let's legislate. Let's vote.

From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the May 18 edition of CNN Newsroom:

McCAIN: We must meet certain enforcement and security triggers that will let everyone know that we are serious about enforcing our laws and that we're not going to repeat the 1986 amnesty.

BASH: As he played up better border security, a host of conservative critics labeled it amnesty, vowed to block it, and said McCain and other supporters would pay a price.

REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R-CA): You're going to see a lot of people, Democrats and Republicans, be very upset at every one of the senators who think they put together a great compromise, when basically it's going to be seen as a sellout.

Posted In
Immigration
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Dana Bash
Show/Publication
Lou Dobbs Tonight, The Situation Room
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