Your coverage of the immigration debate is usually exemplary and the station is usually conscientious about its approach to this highly volatile issue.
Imagine how shocked I was, then, to see Christine Maddela’s piece last night about the immigration debate, which juxtaposed the peaceful demonstrations last year with the tragic story of a woman killed by a driver in the country illegally. I know some Assistant News Director thought it was probably brilliant to segue from a story on last year’s rallies to the heartbroken mother of this victim, but this conflates two very separate issues. One simply has nothing to do with the other.
Not only that, but Megan McCrary’s tragic death took place two years ago. That’s right. This segment, used to provide “balance” against the positive story of peaceful demonstrators, was an update on a two year old story. This type of sensationalism does not do justice to either the suffering of the McCrary family, or to the thousands of immigrants (regardless of their current legal status) who drive safely and obey traffic laws. But this poorly thought out piece will likely become yet another weapon for those seeking to demonize all immigrants who lack documentation.
Countless similar segments were produced during the Garcia-Reyes incident (you may recall that Garcia-Reyes had numerous run-ins with the law before he killed that couple in Hermitage), and Sheriff Hall has said many times that the Reyes incident was what ultimately prompted him to push for Proposition 287(g), which allows local police to check the immigration status of arrestees and have them deported. Not a single television station in town asked the relevant question: how did Reyes avoid incarceration for so many years, and after so many arrests? Furthermore, had he somehow been granted residency at some point during his long criminal career, would his victim’s death somehow be less tragic? Maybe more to the point, would there have been a story so many months later?
If Megan McCrary had been struck and killed by a legal resident, would WKRN still have followed up two years later?
The point of the video segment was unnecessary and smacked of pandering. It isn’t of the standard I have come to expect from your news department. I hope irresponsible reporting doesn’t become commonplace at Channel 2.
Note: Edited to correct the name of Reyes-Garcia. I had just gotten off the phone with a friend, and his name was clearly stuck in my over-crowded head. Apologies to anyone I may have mislead or offended.