A brief update to this morning's story: Just got off the phone with WTVD's Gerrick Brenner, who graciously called to talk about my concerns over their station's coverage of Thursday's City Council work session debate over illegal immigration.
Some key points of our conversation (and I invited Brenner to pop on here with any comments in case I'm recollecting our talk wrong)--
- Brenner noted that Stith never offered any resolutions in Thursday's Council session, and that as a result it wasn't clear to him (Brenner) what, exactly, Stith was proposing be done about Durham's immigration policy.
- He also noted that he hadn't been at any of the meetings before Thursday's session, and I don't think he'd seen the listserv posting from Stith earlier in the week. (To which point, I'm not 100% sure that Brenner was aware of all the background on Stith's earlier claimed position that he didn't want to have police stop people on the street to ask about immigration status.)
- Brenner and I spent a significant amount of time talking about whether the City's Oct. 2003 resolution and the D.P.D. General Order 4073 were in fact aligned with each other and D.P.D. current practice. The media take (H-S, N&O, and now WTVD in Brenner's person) has all been unanimously of the opinion that they are not in line with each other. My take remains that it's "fuzzy," as I believe I said here earlier this week, but that it is plausible to interpret them as aligned. (I won't go over the reasons why again; this week's earlier coverage covers it in depth. Obviously, six out of seven Council members and the new police chief disagree with Stith that they're in variance, but I still would like to see a more objective analysis.)
One point Brenner did note -- and I don't think this has been fully explored -- is why there was such a quick change between Hodge's position earlier this week and Lopez's position on Thursday. My speculation: Politics? Internal rivalry? There does seem more to this story than's been discovered... yet.
I give Brenner credit for calling to talk about my difference of opinion over WTVD's coverage of the story. But the core problem I have with the story still remains the fact that the first three paragraphs of their story ask Lopez what I told Brenner was a hypothetical contrary to fact--
The Durham mayor's race continues to heat up. One candidate has raised immigration as a campaign issue, calling the Bull City a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants. But Thursday the city council and the new police chief rebuffed Thomas Stith's hope for change.
When Durham police holds a license checkpoint or question someone on the street, should they ask people to prove legal residency in the U.S.?
"No, I don't see a reason why," Chief Police Chief Jose Lopez.
I should note that if I understood Brenner correctly, Hodge's draft memo provided for the D.P.D. starting to ask the immigration status of people under suspicion but not under arrest. So, theoretically, that second graf can be interpreted in the context of Lopez rejecting Hodge's memo. But that's not a context that's clear from this story, either. Hodge wasn't asking that hypothetical question Thursday from the dais -- and neither, to my understanding, was Stith.
Which brings up the crux of the problem: The WTVD story poses to Lopez a question that Stith wasn't asking. But at least some TV viewers now think that's exactly what Stith was doing.