The Corner


Gatekeepers No More

Handing out flags at a naturalization ceremony in Oakland, Calif., in 2013. (Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

In the old days of print, when a reporter quoted a press release or other document, you usually had to take his word for it, because hyperlinks did not exist. (The exceptions being bombshells like the Ken Starr report on President Clinton’s frolics, which I remember the Washington Post reproducing in all its sticky detail.)

Today, though, there’s no excuse for not including a link to the full statement, or posting a pdf or jpeg if it’s not already online. Readers should be able to compare the description in the news story with the actual document, and judge for themselves the reporter’s fairness. This is doubly important given the news media’s Stakhanovite efforts at torpedoing their own credibility.

This struck me again looking at yesterday’s coverage of the new mission statement of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS, the DHS bureau that deals with green cards, work permits, and naturalization (as Charlie can attest) revised its mission statement to stress that it serves the American people as a whole, not the U.S. petitioners and immigrant applicants that were formerly described as its “customers.” What’s more, the new statement does not include “nation of immigrants,” a marketing slogan deployed in the 1950s to promote what became the 1965 immigration law, whose unintended consequences remain with us today.

All the reports I found reproduced and/or linked to the text of the mission statement. So far, so good. But the coverage also quoted extensively from the letter by USCIS director Francis Cissna to his subordinates announcing and explaining the change. But not one report I’ve come across included a link to a pdf or an image of the letter — not the Intercept, which first reported it, not the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today, Fox, or CNN. Nor did NPR, even though it did include a link to a press release from lefty hand-wringers bemoaning the administration’s “insidious racism.” It’s not like there’s even anything in the rest of the document that changes the story, it’s just that they don’t get to decide what we should be able to see.

So, to correct this oversight by the media, I include the letter here. I report, you decide.


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