Monday, April 20, 2009
The national media invades El Paso—and gets the story wrong.
By Melissa del Bosque
The Texas Observer
On March 25, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° rolled into El Paso to report on Mexican drug-cartel violence. Cooper was one more in a recent wave of national news heavy hitters to parachute in, scare the pants off millions of viewers, then jet off to the next headline destination.
Dressed in military green, Cooper furrowed his brow and squinted solemnly into the camera as the lights of the international border checkpoint glimmered behind him. Guest Fred Burton, identified as a terrorism and security expert with Stratfor Global Intelligence, was beamed in from a studio in Austin to paint a menacing picture of Mexican cartels invading U.S. city streets. “It’s just a matter of time before it really spills over into the United States unless we shore up the border as best we can,” Burton warned.
By God, they’re coming to your neighborhood! Looking at another live feed from El Paso, listening to the breathless reports of violence and “expert” analysis about “spillover,” viewers could only assume that the city in which Cooper stood was under imminent assault.
That’s the reality these days for El Pasoans. Or rather, it’s the twisted perception created by border-warrior politicians and national news media, and foisted on Juarez’s relatively peaceful sister city. For El Pasoans and residents of nearby border towns, it might all be a mere oddity—maybe even worth a chuckle—if it didn’t mean the construction of 18-foot border walls, blustery talk about National Guard troop surges, and new resources for the disastrous war on drugs. While “troop surge,” “border wall,” and “drug war” might sound irresistibly sexy to politicians and pundits, it’s border residents who have to live with the fences and tanks and consequences....(Click for remainder.)