Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Anti-immigrant Group Dodges Accountability in Second NY Times Article

Jill Garvey • May 02, 2011

Anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform’s lack of transparency earns it another critical article in The New York Times.

Two weeks ago, The Times ran a front-page feature on white nationalist John Tanton and the organizations he created.

Much was made in the first article about Tanton’s involvement with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); he founded the organization and still sits on its board of directors. After FAIR quietly dropped Tanton from its board last week, The Times felt compelled to write a follow-up.

FAIR’s president Dan Stein released a statement just a few days after the first article appeared, but failed to address the fact that the organization had kept a white nationalist on its board for 32 years.

He also took several jabs at the New York Times, implying that the newspaper didn’t do “serious research,” while all along supposedly withholding the information that Tanton had left FAIR’s board.

Like most folks who were following the story, The Times reporter, Jason DeParle, was perplexed. When he spoke to Stein for the follow-up, Stein told him he didn’t think Tanton’s departure was “newsworthy:”

Mr. Stein said he had not called attention to Dr. Tanton’s departure because he did not find it newsworthy. “I would certainly object strenuously if you characterized this somehow as a byproduct of external pressures,” he said.

Stein is sending the troubling message that FAIR doesn’t feel it is accountable to the public; taking great pains to make clear that Tanton’s views aren’t a problem for the organization.

Which begs the question, why does Stein think FAIR shouldn’t respond to external pressures?

After all, FAIR describes itself as a “nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization.” For a nonprofit, FAIR sure has funny ideas about what it means to be transparent and accountable.

Tanton or no Tanton, FAIR has a lot to answer for.

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