Journalist Jose Vargas' Illegal Immigration Revelation

Friday, June 24, 2011


This week, former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas published a story in The New York Times Magazine revealing that he has been living and working illegally in the U.S. Immigration issues aside, the coming out story has raised questions about whether a journalist can work with integrity while living a lie. New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren explains why they decided to publish the piece and Vargas' former boss, San Francisco Chronicle Editor-at-Large Phil Bronstein says he felt dupedwhen he found out the truth.

Comments [5]


My original post that was lost was a complaint against the sanctimoniousness of media people like Phil Bronstein when the mass media have so many more ethical issues that should concern them. Iraq's threat didn't pass the smell test and yet the media saw fit to cheer lead for a war that has done major long-lasting damage to our nation.

As far as Vargas' immigration status is concerned: it reflects badly on the values of our society that we put great impediments in the way of people's freedom of movement; but when it comes to capital, we have freed it from almost all restrictions and allow it, in the guise of free trade, to go where it wants and do what it wants. Doesn’t anyone inside the beltway, including media people, wonder whether "free trade" and pressure on US borders might just be cause and effect?

Jul. 03 2011 04:01 PM
Ben from Conway

I missed the comments when this story was fresh, but just wanted to point out the way in which this story highlighted some of the unconscious bias present in the media. The editor from San Francisco seemed upset that Vargas didn't reveal his immigration status as a source of potential 'bias' in covering immigration stories. A similar point may even have been raised about his covering HIV/AIDS and his sexuality. I am still waiting for time that white, male reporters get pulled off of stories about white, mainstream males because their socioethnic status makes them biased, however. It would get difficult, though, trying to figure out what combination of closeted/admitted sexuality and ethnicity, for example, should "objectively" cover the (former) senator Larry Craig story.
Perhaps more to the point was the discomfort that the interview seemed to have with the notion of misdemeanor illegality around immigration. It is that discomfort, and the way it blinds us to the human, socioeconomically determined reality of illegal immigration, that is why an article (and bravery) like that of Vargas are so important.

Jul. 02 2011 05:19 PM
agoldman from New York City agoldman

I'm sorry about the transcripts. We're currently having a technical issue with how the transcripts display on the site. We're hoping to have them back up very soon.

Some comments from our two most recent episodes didn't get migrated from the old website, please feel free to re-enter your comments. Thanks for your understanding while we resolve some issues with the changeover

Jun. 30 2011 12:36 PM
Spring Texan from Austin, Texas

And what happened to the comments from last week that pointed out what a crappy story this was and how detestable?

Jun. 30 2011 08:27 AM
Ralph from Nebraska

What happened to the transcripts? I can't seem to find them anymore.

Jun. 29 2011 12:07 PM

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