Cindy Rodriguez: Fact vs. Fiction in the Mile High City
As Factor viewers may know, Denver Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez has been attacking The Factor on the subject of illegal immigration via innuendo, implication, and outright falsehoods. Such distortions cannot go unchallenged.
To set the record straight, here are a few of Ms. Rodriguez' assertions in two recent columns and how they stack up against the facts.
First, Cindy Rodriguez wrote a column on October 25th, headlined "Bill O'Reilly's Bullying Ways Merit Apology" including this from Ms. Rodriguez: "O'Reilly tried bullying me in January 2004. I had mentioned in a column that he had misquoted the figures of a flawed study on illegal immigrants and their supposed abuse of welfare."
Ms. Rodriguez is referring to a column she wrote in January of 2004, in which she disputed the following sentence: "Even after welfare reform, an estimated 34 percent of households headed by legal Mexican immigrants and 25 percent headed by illegals use at least one welfare program."
The numbers came from the Center for Immigration Studies, which Ms. Rodriguez slammed as "an organization known for distorting figures." But Steven Camarota, Director of Research at the CIS, stands by those figures, which he extracted from census data. And get this - while working as a reporter for The Boston Globe in 2002, Cindy Rodriguez cited a Center for Immigration Studies report and quoted Steven Camarota. Apparently the CIS "distorts figures" only when The Factor is involved.
Second, in that same October 25th column, Rodriguez writes: "O'Reilly agreed with a caller to his radio program who labeled illegal immigrants 'biological weapons' because they may have 'tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy.' O'Reilly's response: 'I think you could probably make an absolutely airtight case that more than 3,000 Americans have been either killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are here.'"
This is an outrageous distortion of the facts, accomplished by omitting some key sentences. Here is a longer transcript of that call to the Radio Factor:
CALLER: If you take the sum total of the economic consequences of illegal immigration, and also consider that the illegals crossing the border, that are coming across with, say, tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy -- each one of those people is a biological weapon. And I believe that illegal immigration is -- equals and surpasses the impact of 9-11. And it is incumbent upon the president to close the borders.
Obviously no one was agreeing with the caller's portrayal of immigrants as "biological weapons," but with the larger notion that illegal immigration has many unintended consequences, including an increase in crime rates, stress on welfare programs, and a breakdown in the rule of law. Considering the indisputable fact that, among other things, illegal immigrants fill many of the nation's prisons, that is hardly a radical notion.
O'REILLY: Well, you might be right. And, you know, if you look at it that way, you've got 11 million at least here, unsupervised. Nobody knows the condition they're in. And you have 3,000 dead from 9-11. So, you got 11 million running around unsupervised now. You got 3,000 dead on 9-11, so you do the math and you say, "Well, how many of these 11 million people have impacted negatively on American citizens?" I think you could probably make an absolutely airtight case that more than 3,000 Americans have been either killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are here.
Third, either because Cindy Rodriguez reveled in her newfound attention or because one venomous column just wasn't enough, she wrote another column two days later, this one headlined "O'Reilly Spin Leaves Me Dizzy."
This time she wrote about comments on the previous night's Factor: "With a straight face, he told the audience that he never interrupts guests."
That claim was never made. What was said was the following: "Miss Rodriguez says, 'I'm standing up to one of the biggest bullies I know: Bill O'Reilly. On his TV show, "The O'Reilly Factor," [he] interrupts guests, denigrates them, calls them names, and when someone makes an intelligent point countering him, [he] cuts the microphone and shouts, "you're spinning!' Now just this ridiculous description of "The Factor" pretty much eliminates Ms. Rodriguez from any serious dialogue, but she goes on to parrot a bunch of far-left garbage fed to her by extremist Web sites, misstating facts, taking quotes out of context." Again, there was never a statement made that guests are never interrupted. As has been said many times, because of the limited time in each segment, filibustering is never allowed in the "No Spin Zone."
Fourth, Ms. Rodriguez goes on to write this: "Then he said that I had labeled him a bigot, something I've never done."
Technically, Cindy Rodriguez may be correct, in that she never used that word. However, since she falsely accused The Factor of agreeing that illegals are "biological weapons," and asserted that The Factor frequently makes "unkind remarks about illegal immigrants," this is a distinction without a difference. Ms. Rodriguez did not label O'Reilly a "bigot," she merely implied it.
Fifth, in another claim in Rodriguez' column of October 27th she writes: "He
made me out to be a supporter of open borders, which I am not."
In fact, Cindy Rodriguez was described as being "pro-immigration," but was never described as a "supporter of open borders." That is patently, demonstrably, clearly false.
Summing up, in the space of two 600-word columns, Ms. Rodriguez made numerous factual and interpretive errors, including others not enumerated here. And remember, a columnist has enough time to re-write and check facts, and has the benefit of editors.
One other thing: Despite what is often implied by the likes of Cindy Rodriguez, The Factor has repeatedly expressed empathy with illegal immigrants, the vast majority of whom are hard working, honest, and honorable people. It is not that illegals are bad people, but that US authorities have a solemn and sworn duty to control the borders and protect American citizens who are here legally.