Of CNN and ‘Anchor Babies’

Nov 15, 2014
9:36 AM

UPDATE: Mediaite has now posted clips of Cuomo’s words after we shared the transcript and wrote our story. Seeing it on the air is even worse. Let’s just say this: If Cuomo thinks that he gave an apology, we have a bridge to sell to him.

Before you continue reading this, let’s get one thing straight—we don’t actively go searching for stupid immigration moments in US news media, they just seem to pop up on a regular basis. Case in point, last night we got the following tweet from the Twitter profile of @CafeConLecheGOP:

Sure enough, we checked out CNN’s official transcript and there it was. The beginning of CNN’s “New Day” started like this yesterday morning:


What perplexed us (but didn’t surprise us) was that this intro was the cold open to CNN’s “New Day.” In other words, “hey, everyone, stay and watch this with us since we are going to talk about immigration and anchor babies,” a term that quite frankly has become synonymous with a small fraction of extremists who would rather paint the picture of the “criminal illegal” than have an actual debate based on facts and rational discussion. But you know, gotta get the viewers, CNN.

Anyway, we were about to just RT the tweet and forget about the CNN gaffe, until the Twitter profile of “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo tweeted the following to CCL and us:

So we checked the transcript and this is what was said:


Now that Cuomo was “made aware” of the term minutes after he said it off a prompter (and was it really an apology?), we still had a few questions:

Thinking that Cuomo might have been more open to what we think is valid feedback about how certain labels in the context of specific news broadcasts are better left unsaid, we got this reply:


Oh yeah, the charge that we are actively looking for “enemies” and that our critiques aren’t valid because you know, it’s a “term both parties often use.” Brief aside: Cuomo is wrong about that one. That term is the clarion call of organizations such as Numbers USA (maybe Cuomo should look more into that group by clicking on this link). And last time we checked, that term is not used by both parties, just from one extreme part of one party. Rep. Steve King, anyone?

In addition, if Cuomo and his news editors actually did a bit more editorial homework about what is being discussed by the Obama administration, what the White House is considering applies to parents of DREAMers as well and not just the “anchor babies” CNN wanted all of us to know were the ones getting all the bennies of the action. Such a term just dehumanizes and trivializes the debate.

(For instance, would Cuomo get away with saying a term like “welfare queens” at the beginning of the show if CNN were leading the program about welfare reform? Would CNN even dare to do that? We think you know the answer to that one.)

Such an attitude, nonetheless is surprising coming from Cuomo, since just this past summer, he did this:

Yet, we are the bad ones in all this. We are the ones who have to “relax.” We are the ones who are just looking for fights. Such a dismissive attitude from a news anchor with over 1 million Twitter followers led us to tweet this out:

Which led to further comments from others who understand what the real issue is here (sans the “socialism” reference):

Interestingly enough, Cuomo’s profile had his defenders last night, as if we are coming out to “get him,” which is not true. He’s a nice guy, he is humble. That’s cool, but that has nothing to do with how you report the news and frame a national debate. Nonetheless, here was one convo with one of his defenders:

Meanwhile, after Cuomo’s profile told us to “relax,” we had some follow-up comments (as expected, his profile hasn’t responded):

We will keep this simple: don’t insult our intelligence, CNN. Cuomo messed up. Whoever wrote your November 14 “New Day” script messed up. Your producers messed up. And no one, no one, had the insight to take a pause and think, “Wait, maybe we shouldn’t use that term in this context?” Then when you all realized that you had indeed messed up, all you share is a half-baked rationalization on air and a tweet from an anchor’s profile telling us to chill.

This is what happens when you lack diversity in newsrooms—not just in front of the camera, but behind it as well. CNN should step up its game and admit that using such language brings us back to the Age of Lou Dobbs. Yet in the narrative that is immigration, always keep it sensational, right, CNN?

We need to be moving forward in trying to present a full picture of the immigration debate. Using language like “anchor babies” on national TV helps no one.

Your move, CNN.