There is no denying that we’ve reached a dark chapter in American history when calling out craven xenophobia is considered taking a political stance on an issue, but here we are.
On Thursday, House Republicans were joined by 47 Democrats to pass a bill that would block Syrian refugees from coming to the United States. It was a response not based on facts or humanity, but on fear and political gamesmanship. Congress got to make themselves appear strong and committed to defending America by solving a problem that never existed in the first place. Having stoked the coals of prejudice and anti-immigrant bias, they “addressed” the problem by passing legislation that would make it nearly impossible for refugees to enter the country – and all it cost was the sacrifice of the fundamental values this “nation of immigrants” once held dear. What a bargain!
In the wake of this shameful vote for fear over humanity, CNN veteran reporter Elise Labott took a moment on Twitter to reflect the surreal nature of a country trading in its dignity to stop a boogeyman. Like others, her thoughts were with the Statue of Liberty, whose creed tells the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
For that simple observation, Labott was promptly suspended for two weeks by CNN. Her remarks were deemed controversial. In the rush to appease “both sides” of the debate, CNN made the choice to remain neutral to xenophobic hate.
Labott herself apologized for the tweet – either by forced from her bosses at CNN, or of her own initiative.
Everyone, It was wrong of me to editorialize. My tweet was inappropriate and disrespectful. I sincerely apologize.
— Elise Labott (@EliseLabott) November 20, 2015
But while it is important for reporters to know when and where to draw the line between their own feelings and the objective reporting they are supposed to strive for, it seems there needs to be consideration for what is and isn’t “editorializing.” Voting against allowing Syrian refugees based on myths, fear-mongering, and speculation is a travesty. It shouldn’t be considered out-of-bounds to say it is such. Just because one political party (and a great deal of their voters) believe something, doesn’t mean we have to pretend that it is true. Let the facts dictate that.
There are, of course, numerous instances of CNN reporters going on record to say truly idiotic things – ahem, Don Lemon? – with absolutely no punishment. By punishing a reporter for calling out xenophobia, CNN isn’t accomplishing its goal to remain neutral. It’s inadvertently picking a side. The wrong one.
Featured image: Twitter