When I read last week that Sacramento Bee's immigration-enthusiast columnist Diana Griego Erwin had resigned— ahead of being fired—because her editors could not verify her sources, I was not surprised.
I had alerted the Bee several years ago that Griego Erwin played loose with the facts.
Naturally, the paper ignored my warning. The Bee insists on a positive tone in its immigration coverage.
Too bad, Bee! Should have listened to me!
Here's what happened:
Griego Erwin's earlier column that attracted my attention: according to her, it was a pity that more adult education classes were not available in Sacramento for all those "immigrants" (Bee-buzz for illegal aliens) who are anxious to learn English.
In Lodi—then and now— plenty of seats are available in ESL classes. And those classes are offered at all times of the day and night. Simply put, for anyone interested in learning English, opportunities abound. [SPECIAL VDARE.COM GLOAT NOTE: See Immigrants Won't Learn English. Washington Doesn't Care. By Joe Guzzardi, January 18, 2002]
Could things be that different in Sacramento?
Curious, I called various Sacramento adult education centers.
They all confirmed that the enrollment pattern in Sacramento was the same as Lodi—lots of seats were available.
Now more put off than ever by Griego Erwin's audacity, I sent a letter to the editor. I listed the adult schools I had called and named the people I had spoken to.
My letter concluded that Griego Erwin had obviously not done her homework. She had instead crafted a column that suited her own worldview.
And conveniently for Griego Erwin, the Bee shared her bias. So it published her column without any fact checking.
Predictably, my letter never appeared. A couple of weeks passed. Then I contacted then-ombudsman La Mont Sanders.
Sanders promised to get back to me. But I had to call several times before he finally told me that my letter was "too long" for publication.
I cut my letter's length by half and resubmitted it.
Still…nothing. After I again chased Sanders down, he told me "The story is old now. And in any case, we stand by Griego Erwin."
I'm sure the Bee felt fine about brushing me off. Griego Erwin had, after all, been a co-recipient of a Pulitzer Prize when she was at the Denver Post in 1986. And while at the Orange County register, Greigo Erwin won an award for outstanding commentary from the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Ombudsman Sanders, once the president of the prestigious Organization of News Ombudsmen, was a big shot too.
I shrugged the snub off as a typical of what happens every time anyone tries to enlighten the MSM. [VDARE.COM note: before the internet!] No matter what you do, it is always a day late or a dollar short.
But looking back, the incident should have been a shot over the proboscis for the Bee.
Instead, the newspaper's sloppy reporting proceeded as usual.
I kept an eye out for Griego Erwin's future columns. Often, I was in awe at how she always found perfect person to supply just the right quote.
Consider her November 2003 column, "California Should Think Twice about Repealing Driver's License Law."
Griego Erwin introduced us to Juana Chacon, a 28-year-old tomato picker from Oaxaca.
In a mere 666 words, Griego Erwin crammed in every conceivable platitude about the plight of the migrant worker, no small accomplishment.
Chacon, an "undocumented worker" was "starving to death in Mexico" but was now "doing the work of what makes America not only run but hum."
According to Griego Erwin, Californians should embrace driver's licenses for illegal aliens because the tomatoes that Chacon picks end up in our "sandwiches" or in our "spaghetti sauce."
For the fun of it, let's concede that "Chacon" and the other "family" exist…admittedly improbable given what we now know about Griego Erwin, but remotely possible.
What is so frustrating is not just Griego Erwin's refusal over her twenty-year career to write professionally about immigration but her implicit denial that any arguments for less immigration even exist.
How could she not be aware of the dozens of arguments for immigration sanity?
Look at Griego Erwin's biography. She is a California native who has worked for the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Record, the Denver Post and the Sacramento Bee. The communities those newspapers serve are hot beds of illegal immigration.
Yet still, in spite of the evidence against her, Griego Erwin says she "stands behind her stories."
She added that the Bee's questions regarding her sources came during a period of personal crisis that left her too drained of any emotional reserves to respond as quickly as her editors demanded.
But apparently, Griego Erwin will be just fine, thank you. As of this writing, she is still scheduled to address the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Ft. Worth Star-Telegram columnist and conference host Dave Lieber, defending the disgraced Griego Erwin, called her "one of the best columnists in America."
Taking pleasure in another human's misfortune is not nice. But it would take a heart of stone not to laugh a little Griego Erwin's comeuppance.
Here's my closing note to Griego Erwin:
I get my tomatoes from Arthur's Fruit and Vegetable Stand in Lodi. Arthur is a native-born American who grows tomatoes as his hobby. He sells them to a select group of customers for $1.00 a pound.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.