Blurring the Lines Between Hard Journalism and Op Eds

When journalists fail to educate themselves about the issues they are covering they frequently drift across the line separating “hard journalism” and op-ed pieces.  And in recent years, immigration reporting has frequently degenerated from serious reportage to uninformed opinion masquerading as news.

A perfect example of this journalistic line-blurring is Akilah Johnson’s recent immigration scare-piece published in the Boston Globe. In an article titled “Schools Push Back Against Trump Transgender, Immigration Stances,” Ms. Johnson reports that Boston area schools “alarmed by Trump” are protecting “vulnerable students.” There’s only one problem, Ms. Johnson’s piece doesn’t make a lick of sense. Why are the school systems alarmed and who are the vulnerable students? Well, that’s where it all starts to get a little fuzzy.

Apparently, the Boston, Brookline, Chelsea, Lexington, Needham, and Revere school systems are steamed because the Trump administration plans to enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act, as written. This alarm is being expressed even though ICE has a stated policy of avoiding enforcement actions at “sensitive” locations such as hospitals, houses of worship, and schools. They’re also upset that Trump hasn’t done enough for transgendered students. What do these two issues have to do with each other? Nothing! But, if you are an open-borders journalist you can disguise your personal agenda by jury rigging a link between immigration and some other contentious social issue and passing it off as legitimate public policy journalism.

Of course, false pretense and minimal research lead to thin stories: The under-eighteen status of illegal alien elementary and high school students doesn’t erase the fact that their parents knowingly broke the law when bringing them here. Unlawfully present minors have always been subject to removal from the United States, although they are clearly not a priority for removal under a recent memorandum issued by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. And they have always received the same generous due process protections as every other alien. Meanwhile – to the limited extent that there is any connection between immigration and transgender issues – even the American Civil Liberties Union has acknowledged that many people who have been persecuted because of their gender identity receive political asylum in the United States. Any journalist worthy of the name should have rooted out those facts and included them in the name of balanced coverage.

Despite the fact that the American public is hungry for accurate informative coverage of immigration issues, the press seems committed to banging out an endless series of immigration sob stories – even if it has to manufacture them.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar
    austin farrell on

    We don’t have any reporters. All we have are “journalists” who went to “journalism schools”. “Journalism” is supposed to bring context to facts.Now we have nothing but context without recitation of the relevant facts. Maybe you will find a so called fact or two somewhere twards the end of the piece. Thepiece itself is a piece of construction using journalistic devices Articles are designed not to convey factual information but opinions and points of view Often they quote one persons opinion or judgement about what someone else purportedly said without makingthe acatual text of what that persona said cvailable with an actuate context in which it was said. One goes to journalism school to learn the trick of the trade. The journalism scholls were invaded by communists and fellow travelers after WWII. You ‘s beter believe it.\ I was around then Read a little history You see the results now.

  2. avatar
    Not Politically Correct on

    Tired of the immigration sob stories in the main stream media that show children crying because mommy or daddy has been deported. Guess what, it’s mommy or daddy’s own fault because they chose to break the law by immigrating to the country illegally. Bad choices have consequences.

  3. avatar

    Look no further for an agenda than the Trayvon Martin case, which has been brought up by many of the media since it happened five years ago. And all we see in the press are the same pictures we saw then, the ones where he’s ten to twelve years old. Never mind that there are plenty of pictures taken within the last weeks of his life that show him as 6 foot tall and a muscular 150 pounds, fully capable of knocking someone down with a sucker punch. The pictures we do see are propaganda, plain and simple.

  4. avatar

    The Sessions Witch Hunt By the Democrats

    Is Fake News:

    Foreign Relation Chairmen Senators like Sessions talk to foreign ambassadors routinely [i.e., last August]….they all do. Including Russians.

    Where is the “classified” written evidence of these meetings and who is the Obama intelligence leak to throw in prison?

    • avatar

      There have been stories in the media for the past week about threats to Jewish schools and community centers across the country. Naturally there were the usual calls for Trump to condemn anti-Semitism. I guess he’s supposed to walk around with a sandwich board all day. But it turns out that a lot of these threats were traced to one guy who turns out to be a Bernie Sanders supporter.

      The fact is that many of these things are hoaxes, like the Muslim women who claimed about a month ago that Trump supporters accosted her on the subway in New York. She got arrested for making it up. The media gives 5% of the attention to the end result as they do to the original story. Furthermore the Democrats elected Keith Ellison as their deputy party chairman and Ellison was a longtime supporter of Louis Farrakhan, one of the most virulent anti-Semites in this country. Ignored by the media of course. Imagine the reverse if it was the Republicans.

      • avatar

        “But it turns out that a lot of these threats were traced to one guy who turns out to be a Bernie Sanders supporter.”

        Can you give us proof of that?

        • avatar

          His name is Juan Thompson and in a tweet last July he said “I voted for Bernie Sanders”. Let’s see if the media gives as much attention to that as it did to the original stories.

          • avatar

            Leland keep in mind that if a supporter does something, it does not reflect Sander’s view nor approval…..the wrong perspective to look at things….

          • avatar

            Now you’re changing the subject. You said in a post below that you “doubted” a Sanders supporter would do that. My original point is that a lot of these “hate crimes” turn out not to be Trump supporters as the media and the left like to assume, but done by the other side, which the media then ignores. I was correct, you were not.

      • avatar

        OR could be anybody’s supporter to make Sanders look like that…..I doubt it…..those peopler are mostly educated and decent to do that or even waste their time……in such delicate criminal activity…….