For seven hours, MSNBC hosted only conservatives and reporters to discuss immigration

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY, MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER, ADAM SERWER & MATT GERTZ

During the seven hours of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live (9 a.m.-4 p.m. ET), 15 segments aired about immigration or the Senate immigration bill, none of which featured a Democratic or progressive commentator. Indeed, in nine of the 15 segments, the anchor interviewed a conservative anti-immigration activist who had opposed the bill -- including six separate solo interviews with MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. The remaining six segments consisted of two panels with Buchanan and conservative activist and Manhattan Institute senior fellow Tamar Jacoby (who, alone among the guests, favored the recent immigration bill), an interview with Congressional Quarterly immigration reporter Michael Sandler, an interview with MSNBC terrorism analyst Joe Cantamessa, and two reports from MSNBC congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira.

Buchanan appeared in one segment in each of the first four hours, giving two solo interviews each to MSNBC Live anchors Monica Novotny and Chris Jansing. Buchanan then appeared four times in the next three hours on MSNBC, giving two solo interviews and participating in two panels with Jacoby. Buchanan is a longtime anti-illegal immigration activist, noting on his website that "the [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ]-[Sen. Edward] Kennedy [D-MA]-Bush-La Raza immigration plan" is one of the "very matters on which we took our stand in those three campaigns," referring to his presidential campaigns of 1992, 1996, and 2000. Buchanan is the author of the book, State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America (Thomas Dunne Books, August 2006), which, as the weblog Think Progress has noted, asserts that the United States must keep "Americans of European descent" from becoming the "minority" in order to "survive[]." As Media Matters for America noted, Buchanan was given five appearances in four days on NBC or an NBC-owned cable channel to promote his book.

Buchanan also has a long history of advancing conservative misinformation on the issue of immigration. For instance, in his May 1 syndicated column, he blamed the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech on lax U.S. immigration policies and baselessly claimed that "in numbers higher than our native born, some [immigrants] are going berserk here."

In a segment during the 10 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live, Novotny interviewed Grassfire.org president Steve Elliott. Grassfire.org is a self-described "online conservative issues advocacy organization." Elliot's biography asserts that "Grassfire has been at the forefront of the effort to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration." A July 19, 2006, Arizona Daily Star article quoted Elliot saying that the number of illegal immigrants in the United States "truly amounts to an invasion of our community."

Later on the program, Jansing interviewed William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC). Gheen's writings have appeared on the website VDARE.com, which, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, publishes the work of some "white nationalists," according to its editor, Peter Brimelow. In an April 19 article on ALIPAC's website, headlined "Why the illegals must go!" Gheen concluded: "The hour is late and it is time for Americans to stand up and say with one voice... No Amnesty! No Guest Worker! Secure our borders and enforce the existing laws! Restore the American Republic! The illegals must go. Illegals go home!" Gheen also has a history of conservative misinformation on the issue of immigration, as documented by Colorado Media Matters.

In the 2 p.m. hour, host Contessa Brewer interviewed Jason Mrochek, national director of the Federal Immigration Reform and Enforcement (FIRE) Coalition, an organization whose website declares, "We believe that it is the duty of our government [to] ... effectively secure our nation's borders and vigorously enforce our immigration laws, including repatriation of foreign nationals illegally in the United States." As with Gheen, Mrochek also has a history of conservative misinformation on the issue of immigration, documented by Colorado Media Matters.

A May 21 Washington Post profile called Jacoby a "[c]onservative activist." The Manhattan Institute itself has been labeled "conservative" by several media outlets. Jacoby has come out in favor of the recent immigration bill, writing in a May 29 Los Angeles Times column that the bill was "the essence of democratic politics: Everyone sacrifices a little so that we all can win big."

Hour of MSNBC Live

Guests/Reporters

9 a.m.

Viqueira;
Buchanan

10 a.m.

Buchanan;
Elliott

11 a.m.

Buchanan;
Gheen,;
Sandler

12 p.m.

Buchanan

1 p.m.

Buchanan and Jacoby;
Cantamessa;
Buchanan

2 p.m.

Buchanan and Jacoby;
Mrochek,

3 p.m.

Buchanan;
Viqueira

From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live:

NOVOTNY: For more on what the president can do to help push the bill through, we're joined on Capitol Hill by NBC's Mike Viqueira. Good morning, Mike.

VIQUEIRA: Good morning, Monica.

NOVOTNY: So the president plans on meeting with Republican senators tomorrow --

VIQUEIRA: That's right.

NOVOTNY: What's his message going to be?

VIQUEIRA: Well, first of all, this message has been planned for about three weeks, but it's taken on a new urgency since the spectacular collapse of the president's immigration reform bill last week in the Senate, of course. He says, "I'll see you at the bill signing." That is wishful thinking.

[...]

NOVOTNY: Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst. He's also the author of the book, State of Emergency. Good morning, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Morning, Monica.

From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live:

NOVOTNY: Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst. He's also the author of the book State of Emergency. So, Pat, can the president bring the bill back to life just by sheer force of will this week?

BUCHANAN: I think the president and Harry Reid and the Democrats have a real interest. They really believe in this legislation.

[...]

NOVOTNY: Steve Elliott is president of Grassfire.org, one of the online groups opposed to the measure. So, Steve, how much impact do you think that average voters have had on this debate?

From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live:

JANSING: Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst and author of the book State of Emergency. Good morning, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Morning, Chris.

[...]

JANSING: Joining me now is William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC. Good morning. Thanks for joining us.

GHEEN: Thank you, Chris.

JANSING: So, do you attribute the -- at least stalling, if not the death of this bill, to the success of grassroots organizations like yours?

GHEEN: Most certainly.

[...]

JANSING: Michael Sandler covers immigration for Congressional Quarterly. Good afternoon.

SANDLER: Good afternoon.

JANSING: So, the president gets back tonight. Tomorrow he's meeting with some top congressional Republicans. Does he have a chance to change minds here?

SANDLER: I think he has a chance, but I think it's a pretty tall order right now.

From the 12 p.m. ET hour of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live:

JANSING: Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst and author of the book State of Emergency. Hey, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Hey, Chris.

From the 1 p.m. ET hour of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live:

AMY ROBACH: All right, Pat Buchanan is a former presidential candidate, and an MSNBC political analyst. He's also the author of the book State of Emergency, and he's already laughing at President Bush. All right.

Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and she joins us live from Washington to offer perspective on the conservative grassroots sector playing a role in stopping the immigration bill. Thank you both for joining us.

BUCHANAN: Thank you, Amy.

ROBACH: All right, Pat, so do you think the president can -- can -- will this bill back to life?

[...]

ROBACH: Joe Cantamessa is an MSNBC terrorism analyst and former FBI special agent. Joe, what are you thoughts on using technology versus perhaps a physical structure?

CANTAMESSA: Well, Amy, with that much territory to cover, technology is a critical part to aid in what would be a good response posture that is part of the overall plan.

[...]

ROBACH: Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst. He is also the author of the book State of Emergency, and Pat, I know at the very least, you disagree about that amnesty part. You say that's exactly what this bill offered.

BUCHANAN: Oh, yeah, this is amnesty, and the whole country knows that and -- and so I think that really is not the argument.

From the 2 p.m. ET hour of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live:

CONTESSA BREWER: Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst and author of the book State of Emergency, and Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. It's great to have both of you with me today.

BUCHANAN: Good afternoon, Contessa.

BREWER: So, Pat, do you think the president is going to be able to convince those skeptical GOP lawmakers that this bill, and he keeps insisting, it is not amnesty?

BUCHANAN: I think you ought to give up on that, because there are a number of senators in there that are going to support the amnesty bill, if the president gives them some amendments they want.

[...]

BREWER: Jason Mrochek is with the Federal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Coalition. Jason, great to talk to you today.

MROCHEK: Hi, Contessa. Thanks for having me.

BREWER: Do you think that these grassroots efforts were responsible for stalling the legislation?

MROCHEK: Absolutely, there's no doubt. You know, When Americans hear from politicians that, you know, they're putting lipstick on the pig, so to speak, by saying all the great benefits of this amnesty program and then groups like the FIRE Coalition and talk radio, and bloggers actually get the real information in front of the public, they get pretty ticked off.

From the 3 p.m. ET hour of the June 11 edition of MSNBC Live:

BREWER: Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst, author of the book, State of Emergency. Hi, Pat. Great to see you today.

BUCHANAN: Hey, Contessa.

BREWER: Let's talk about this argument that the bill is nothing but another way of granting amnesty. I've pointed out the president keeps insisting that it's not amnesty and that if you look up the dictionary definition, amnesty is considered a "pardon, no consequences." And this bill does enforce, impose some consequences on illegal immigrants.

BUCHANAN: Well, it's -- you have 12 to 20 million people who have broken the law, broke into the country, are here illegally and working illegally, and this makes them all legal. I think that's amnesty and that's what the American people understand it as: amnesty.

[...]

BREWER: Does the president really have grounds for that kind of optimism? MSNBC congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira is on Capitol Hill. Mike, the president seems to have a positive outlook. What -- what are you seeing on Capitol Hill?

VIQUEIRA: Well, let's put it this way, Contessa. He's got his work cut out for him if this thing is going to be resuscitated.

Posted In
Immigration
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
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