Who Would Honor Geraldo ("There Would Not Be A Lawn Mowed Or A Dish Washed But For Illegal Immigrants") Rivera?
December 09, 2005, 04:00 AM
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Do you remember the great Groucho Marx line: "I don't want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member"?

Marx popped into my head immediately when I read that the National Association of Hispanic Journalists invited Geraldo Rivera to chair its September "Awards Gala" and deliver its keynote speech.

With apologies to Marx: "Why would any association of journalists that is begging to be taken seriously invite a comic figure to host its big bash?"

Why not invite disgraced Sacramento Bee columnist Diana Griego Erwin and save some money?

We'll be analyzing the curious and misguided NAHJ today. But, before doing so, let's pause briefly to review an equally odd figure, Rivera himself.

I assume NAHJ knows that Rivera is barely a Hispanic. He was born Gerald Rivera in New York to a Puerto Rican father, Cruz Rivera, and Jewish mother, Lilly Friedman.

As much as Rivera likes to portray himself as an immigrant underdog, even his father isn't an immigrant. The last time I checked Puerto Ricans are American citizens and move freely from the island to the mainland without "immigrating".

The NAHJ was also obviously willing to overlook Rivera's checkered—to be generous—personal life and professional career.

Five-times married and the author of a sleazy autobiography, Exposing Myself, that infuriated women that he slept with (Bette Midler called him a "slime ball") and women he claimed to have bedded but who vigorously deny it (Chris Evert).

Real gentlemen know that, when you kiss, you don't tell.

Rivera's macho posing should be—but obviously isn't—offensive to the NAHJ's president, Veronica Villafane and every other woman in the organization. (Ask Villafane why not).

As a journalist, Rivera's credentials are no better. You remember the highlights: the empty Al Capone vault, his broken nose and his recent dust-up with the New York Times.

At the dinner, Rivera predictably made several ignorant comments that would never have cut mustard with an audience of true professionals. The NAHJ loved them, though.

Among Rivera's remarks were:


  • "I'm for not being embarrassed about who we are. If we make it, you can't forget where you come from."  (Remember, Rivera "comes from" New York.)

But the Rivera statement that really caught my attention was this one:

I would venture that there was not one single NAHJ member among those assembled that could legitimately claim to have been "pushed around" to write fair and balanced stories on immigration.

The truth, as we all know too well, is that every major print daily has a strong pro-illegal alien bias in its reporting.

And the NAHJ is determined to keep it that way. Check out its Parity Project

Here, from the NAHJ, are the Parity Project's goals and objectives:



  • To "establish even stronger ties than they might already have with Latino leaders and groups in their areas that can offer ongoing guidance when it comes to coverage of Hispanics."

  • To "conduct cultural awareness sessions with the news staffs of partnering organizations. The goal is to provide greater awareness to Latino issues and to generate story ideas."

  • To "co-sponsor a town hall meetings with Latino leaders to discuss concerns about coverage of the community."

And precisely why is this massive push to hire more "Latinos" needed? (Notice that although the NAHJ uses "Hispanic" in its name, it obviously now prefers the more politically correct "Latino")

According to NAHJ:

  • "Latinos make up only 4 percent of newsroom personnel at all daily English-language newspapers."

  • "Latinos make up only 6 percent of all newsroom staffers at English-language TV news outlets."

  • "Latinos make up 14 percent of the total U.S. population and will comprise 25 percent of the population by 2050."

This is a joke, right?

Let's play with these numbers. Using the NAHJ's figures, roughly speaking about 5 percent of today's mainstream journalists is "Latino."

And I deduce from the NAHJ's tone that it fully expects that "Latinos" should have a 14 percent representation in newsrooms right now (!) that should increase to 25 percent by 2025.

But even in its wildest imagination the NAHJ must know that's a pipe dream.



  • Third, net out those who speak and write English but not at a level it suitable for a professional journalist.


What you end up with is a Hispanic representation of about 5 percent—if even that.

Okay—so of course we expect an organization named the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to pump its own agenda.

But why doesn't its website have even a passing reference to fairness and balance in reporting?

The NAHJ's mission should be—but is not—to make sure that every Hispanic journalist writes outstanding stories or becomes a credit to his profession through insightful reporting.

Instead, restated ad nauseum, the NAHJ repeats that it:

"Is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry."

And works:

"To foster a greater understanding of Hispanic media professionals' special cultural identity, interests, and concerns."

I have read thousands of newspaper stories both informally as an immigration reform activist and professionally in my former capacity as Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA.COM. 

(Read my findings here).

What I can say without fear of contradiction is that balanced stories about immigration are so rare that they do not even amount to 1 percent of the total.

In short, the NAHJ has a lot of gall to claim that it is a group of "professional" journalists.

But now for the happy ending to today's saga: this bullying isn't working.

According to a June 2005 report by the Knight Foundation, the share of journalism jobs held by non-whites has decreased from its peak in both large and small newsrooms. [Newsroom Diversity Has Passed Its Peak at Most Newspapers, 1990-2005 Study Shows]

In their executive summary, authors Bill Dedman and Stephen K. Doig state that of the 200 largest dailies, 73 percent employ fewer non-whites than they did when non-white employment was at its peak.

Included are the most sanctimonious of the lot: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

What the Knight Foundation report means is that in the same time period since the ethnic identity media groups like NAHJ came on the scene tooting their own horn, diversity in the newsroom—despite all the whining, lobbying and pontificating—has declined.

Who knows? Maybe there is a subtle shift toward trying to improve the currently wretched quality of newspapers by hiring the most able person—rather than obeying quotas.

In a related and equally significant item, the San Jose Mercury News—employer of the NAHJ's Villafane—announced that it will discontinue its Spanish language newspaper, Nuevo Mundo, and that it would sell its Vietnamese publication, Viet Mercury. Neither is profitable. ["San Jose Mercury News Unloads Foreign Language Newspapers," Greg Sandoval, Associated Press, October 21, 2005]

The announcements regarding Nuevo Mundo and Viet Mercury come on top of last month's lay-offs of 60 Mercury News employees including 52 from the newsroom.

Think of it! We are witness to the slow but certain deaths of artificially-enforced newsroom diversity and the newspapers that spawned it.

I hate to gloat. But I can't help it. This is better than a Christmas present.

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.