Read Kammer’s response to this letterI’m writing to set the record straight and correct some troubling misperceptions created by Jerry Kammer’s article, “An Opposing Viewpoint: The Struggle to Be Heard,” printed in the Fall 2009 issue of Nieman Reports.
The gist of Kammer’s piece: that he can’t get published on The Washington Post op-ed page, and that’s unfair because I’ve appeared there and elsewhere in the Post several times in recent years—evidence, in his view, of an ideological bias on the part of the editors.
I’m sorry, but this is nothing more than a personal gripe dressed up as a high-minded political argument.
I couldn’t agree more with Kammer’s premise. The media should air—robustly and fairly—all sides of any contentious political debate. A complex issue like immigration, even more than others, needs thorough treatment from a variety of viewpoints. And as the paper of record in the nation’s capital, the Post has a special obligation to make space for many opinions.
What I don’t agree with: Kammer’s claim that the Post, paper or op-ed page, has taken my side in the debate. Consider the organization Kammer works for, the Center for Immigration Studies—a group, as he points out, with views very different from my own. In the six-year period he considers, CIS, its executive director Mark Krikorian and director of research Steven Camarota were mentioned or quoted in 113 Post stories. (For what it’s worth, I was mentioned in 25.)
Or consider the other writers published on the Post’s opinion pages in those years. Reading Kammer’s article, you’d think I was the only one given space to weigh in on immigration. In fact, by my count, the paper published more that 190 opinion pieces (op-eds, columns, Sunday essays) on the topic. Authors included conservative reformers like myself, progressive reformers like Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza and reform opponents as varied (and vigorous) and Charles Krauthammer, Robert Samuelson, Byron York—and Kammer’s colleague, Steven Camarota.
In short, I have been one voice among many, one argument in a robust debate—just as it should be.
As for Jerry Kammer, I can’t help wondering if his op-ed submission was based on the same kind of selective facts and skewered reporting as his piece in Nieman Reports. If so, no wonder he had trouble getting published.