Reporter Michael Luo's Tuesday profile of Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, the GOP leader in shepherding through Congress a Bush-style immigration bill unpopular among Republicans, followed some familiar patterns of bias.
"Angry calls poured into Senator Jon Kyl's office this week by the thousands, expressing outrage beyond anything he said he had witnessed in his 20-year political career. The callers were inflamed by Mr. Kyl's role in shaping the bipartisan immigration compromise announced May 17, which lawmakers continue to debate.
"'Yes, I have learned some new words from some of my constituents,' Mr. Kyl, an Arizona Republican, said at a news conference on Thursday, drawing titters from those in the room.
"Mr. Kyl, 65, who garners top ratings from conservative groups every year, is the unlikely linchpin to the fragile alliance of Democrats and Republicans trying to push the sprawling immigration bill through the Senate....Although the bill's backers have praised Mr. Kyl for his political courage, his about-face was not ushered in by either a high-minded refusal to demagogue on the issue or a conscious summoning of historic compromises from the Senate's past.
"A technocrat who has labored in Arizona in the shadow of his much more visible colleague, Senator John McCain, Mr. Kyl has traditionally shunned the spotlight and worked behind the scenes immersed in the details of legislation. It was that affinity for working in the trenches on policy, and pragmatism about the art of legislating, that led him to become a legislative partner of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who has been a major voice for immigration overhaul."
Notice that while Luo called Kyl a conservative several times, Kennedy was simply a "Massachusetts Democrat." That's typical treatment by the Times, which hardly ever labels Kennedy a liberal.
Another Times tic was on display in Luo's piece: Only one side of the illegal immigration/amnesty argument gets personal and vindictive - the anti-amnesty side. Luo's story came complete with multiple unflattering labels:
"But many of [Kyl's] peers in the Republican Party's right wing, who dismiss the measure as amnesty for illegal immigrants, are now vilifying him.
"'This legislation is such a monstrosity that no conservative can feel comfortable with the final product that was put together,' said Brian Darling, director of Senate relations for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group."
Luo stacked the deck against opponents of amnesty by letting Kyl portray illegal immigration as an all-or-nothing proposition.
"Mr. Kyl said he 'hates' certain aspects of the bill, including the provision that would grant people who came here illegally a means to stay, and considered quitting at points in the negotiations, though 'not for long.' He pointed out that he had yet to see a workable plan to round up all illegal immigrants and deport them. Mostly, however, he credited the commitment among members of the group to working out a solution amenable to both sides."
But as National Review editor Rich Lowry has noted, one at a time would be quite enough for most conservatives.
"When the final text of the legislation was made public on May 22, Mr. Kyl's Washington office fielded more than a thousand calls. The outcry on talk radio and in conservative blogs was similarly ferocious."
"Congress has taken the week off from the debate, with members going home to districts that have already been inflamed by the loud and loony right, which has decided that the bill is that filthy thing 'amnesty' and that the nation's character would be defiled if it ever forgave illegal immigrants for coming here to do our worst jobs, or let too many more people in to put down roots. You could call that view unkind and uncharitable. You could also call it unwise, given economic realities.
"I would add un-American."
Good to know that only opponents of the immigration bill stoop to nasty arguments, isn't it?