James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘border security’

McCain ‘border sheriff’ relying on wacky Webster?

Posted by James McPherson on July 22, 2010

Talk about the blind leading the blind. Or dumb and dumber. Paul Babeu, the Arizona sheriff most famous for posing as a “border sheriff” in John McCain’s goofy “complete the danged fence” ad, apparently gets his own information from… wait for it … Michael Webster.

Yes, that Michael Webster, the loony “investigative reporter” whom I’ve highlighted previously on this site. Tim Steller of the Arizona Daily Star, reports in a piece headlined that after Babeu claimed that a Mexican “drug cartel top officer” sat down with a reporter in an interview and threatened Babeu:

“We believe it was American vigilantes, and that the sheriff of Pinal County, where my two soldiers were killed, is covering this up, and we’re going to hold him, Sheriff Paul Babeu” — they said it right in the paper, this guy’s telling the reporter — “and we’re going to hold him personally responsible for this.”

Unlike the type of “journalist” played by Webster, Steller then decided to follow up:

That piqued my attention, of course, since the Arizona Daily Star is the only daily newspaper in Tucson, and I hadn’t noticed this interview. So I asked Tim Gaffney, Babeu’s spokesman, what Babeu was referring to. Gaffney pointed me to this piece by “investigative journalist” Michael Webster. Please read the piece, along with some of Webster’s other writings at U.S. Border Fire Report and Laguna Journal  and tell me if you would trust this source of information, especially if you were a sheriff.

A subhead on the search page for the article refers to Webster as “a self-described ‘investigative journalist’ with sympathies toward the militia movement.” That may make his articles ideal for regurgitation by various anti-immigration and conspiracy sites (a few examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here), but, as Steller suggests, hardly the kind of information you’d hope would be relied upon for any public officials with marginally more sense than Michele Bachmann.

And if he trusts Webster, I suppose this also means that Babeu, knowingly or unknowingly, is relying on outdated third-hand information from some secret “duck hunter.”

Incidentally, the reason I thought to check the Star (though I have family in Tucson and so read it on occasion, anyway), is because Steller has apparently come across one of my previous pieces on Webster and emailed me for contact info (not that it matters, because Webster apparently ignores attempts to reach him unless those attempts come from shadowy figures with drug war horror stories such as “duck hunter” or “HammerDown”  or “Juan” or “a self proclaimed Los Zetas drug cartel officer“).

In my response to Steller I pointed out Webster’s two websites and his some of his other writing, including three books–“one advertised with the line, ‘We, believe that fruit from the tree of life may be the lemon’ (the extra comma was already there), and one a ‘work of fiction’ promising, ‘The RedRoad is a journey through life learning to live in balance and harmony with Mother and if you walk soft and long you may teach others the walk of the RedRoad.'”

As I told Steller, I guess it’s when those red folks mixed with Spaniards that they became a problem. Of course the red men did an awful job with border security, which is why most of us are here with the likes of Babeu and Webster to protect us.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

‘Just say no’ to aliens: Fear of foreigners alive and well under Obama

Posted by James McPherson on March 24, 2009

The Obama administration announced today that it will increase funding for border security. The plan was announced by Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, who until recently was the governor of Arizona, which has seen Mexican drug violence spill over its border.

“The administration is trying to help the Mexican government break up drug cartels believed to be responsible for the killing of roughly 6,500 people in Mexico last year,” CNN reported. BBC went back two years, using a figure of 8,000 deaths.

Fox News was probably the most accurate in its characterization of the plan (now there’s a phrase I never expected to write), highlighting the fact that the funding is “aimed at stopping Mexico violence from entering the U.S.” The lead of the Fox story reads, “The Department of Homeland Security is doubling the number of law enforcement working along the Southwest border and could request border state governors to send National Guardsmen to help curtail spillover violence from Mexico.”

The plan will send $700 million to aid Mexico law enforcement, to be used in part for five new helicopters and “news surveillance aircraft for the Mexican navy.” (Mexican helicopters are apparently cheaper than U.S. ones.)

Mexico is the third-leading provider of imported oil for the United States, but the leading provider of illegal drugs. Oil companies tend to be much more refined than drug cartels in their use of violence, and to have bigger U.S.-backed armies, so in Mexico it’s the drugs, not the oil, fueling the war.

In return, Americans provide the money and the guns to keep the war going–pretty much as we do in the rest of the world, though in this case it’s not through major corporations with the endorsement of the U.S. government. Of course at the government level we are still continuing a failed decades-long “war on drugs” policy instead of taking the simpler, cheaper route of drug legalization.

At least Obama is discontinuing the Bush adminstration policy of overriding state medical marijuana laws, so perhaps fewer cancer patients will die blaming Republicans for their pain. But they and Lou Dobbs can go on blaming Mexicans and other “foreigners” for pretty much everything else, from lost jobs to leprosy.

April 12 follow-up: In the comments section of this post, I referred to legal citizens who were deported during the Great Depression. Apparently it’s happening again (or perhaps still).

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »