TV Station’s Report Conflating Cartels and Religion Hasn’t Aired, But It’s Already Raising Eyebrows

May 7, 2019
1:10 PM

For WSB-TV Atlanta’s latest “investigation,” the TV station managed to put together a show about how the religious practices of drug cartels make them more dangerous to society and how through the use of “evil idols,” Georgia-based cartels are luring “street soldiers with their own religion.” Though it hasn’t aired yet, it is already raising eyebrows.

“The battle to protect you from this underground world and how law enforcement is handling the bizarre idols,” the report says.

WSB-TV went out to interview local authorities and a “legendary DEA undercover agent.” Beyond any true investigation, the report seems to aim to criminalize long practiced Catholic religious traditions stemming from Latin American and the Caribbean. It seems to be in line with the anti-immigrant rhetoric and views shared by President Donald Trump, one where he paints all immigrants as criminals.

Somehow, they managed to graft the same rhetoric used to conflate Islam with terrorism, but this time the vitriol has a new culprit. According to this report, finding strength in these “evil idols,” the “street soldiers” of Georgia think they’re invincible and not afraid of death. Or so argues a talking head interviewed by the TV station.

Twitter users have started roasting WSB-TV online, asking out loud if anybody at the station had ever walked into their neighborhood botánica, and scratching their heads by the notion that statues and candles they have in their living rooms growing up could really be upticking local violence and crime rates.

The piece was reported by Mark Winnie, who also posted the report on Twitter saying “We already knew the drug trade was a battle for souls, but this adds a new dimension of evil to it.” Speaking to ANY Latino in the newsroom (or anywhere) would have avoided them this future embarrassment and such a skewed portrayal of truth.

Wait until the folks at WSB-TV Atlanta find out Mexico has an entire day called Day of the Dead.

UPDATE: The actual story aired later on May 7.

In addition, WSB-TV had deleted two original tweets that started this mess in the first place.


Emily Corona is a digital intern at Futuro Media. She is a journalist and translator from Mexico City, pursuing a master’s in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies at NYU. She tweets from @daminijo.