A curious mainstream media article came from the San Antonio Express News on March 29, 2017 with what could be an all-time low by in an opinion piece from columnist Brian Chasnoff. The writer’s attempt to paint a San Antonio candidate for mayor as being untruthful touched off a fire of protests, literally and publicly, from citizens across the Alamo City.
Chasnoff has used City Councilman and mayor candidate Ron Nirenberg as a source of information for some of his stories. Some of the most notable articles regarded the $3.4 billion Vista Ridge pipeline project intended to deliver 16.3 billion gallons of water annually to San Antonio and Fair Oaks Ranch from Burleson County. It’s been a source of controversy for current Mayor Ivy Taylor. Although some of Chasnoff’s articles have been beneficial to the community, his March 29th effort may have backfired against him.
Chasnoff wrote that Nirenberg’s competitor, candidate Manuel Medina, is a “47-year-old native of Mexico portraying himself as a patriotic American.” But it didn’t stop there. Many, including Medina, interpreted the article as being offensive, racially insensitive, a belittlement of naturalized citizens and an encouragement to bigotry.
“I will not tolerate the Express News publishing this type of rhetoric, especially when it has negative effects on our children, our families and our city,” Medina told a gathering of about 50 supporters outside the newspaper’s building Monday. He called it “a hit job.”
Medina’s decision to run for mayor has been seen as refreshing to citizens disgusted with politics and the waste of taxpayer’s money. Like President Donald Trump, he is likened by some observers as “rocking the boat” against the elite powerbrokers of San Antonio. Those powers include Mayor Taylor, Nirenberg and the media. Medina has garnered the support of many conservatives in San Antonio, a base that Nirenberg wants to tap into. Not only did Medina receive endorsements from former District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules, a conservative Republican, he is supported by George Rodriguez, a prominent Hispanic conservative, syndicated writer, and former Tea Party leader. He’s also received significant endorsements from various fire, police and religious organizations.
On a March 8, 2017 report, NEWS LEGIT’s Jack Dennis reported that “at stake on the May 6 ballot (early voting starts April 24) is also the most costly bond election in San Antonio history. Citizens, who have experienced the wasteful results of previous bond elections, are just beginning to learn about the political pork spending planned in this one. Many are not buying the hype Mayor Ivy Taylor and Mayor Candidate Councilman Ron Nirenberg are outlining and enjoying in the local newspaper, the Express and News.”
Our Secretary of Transportation and former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao (R), was born in Taiwan.
“Citizens can be sure the Express and News will continue to protect Ivy and Nirenberg as they go after Medina to protect the dominant status-quo,” wrote Dennis in the March 8 article. “…even the Express and News has had difficulty inoculating city government power players from recent scandal news reaching the public. Ivy has been plagued with controversy. Nirenberg has been listed by Texas Bureau Watchdog Org as #4 on their list of “Scariest People of 2016.”
“Throughout the 2 ½ hour conversation, much of the dialogue was about his background,” the article states. “A native of Mexico, the candidate was three-years-old when he came to the United States with his mother. Medina talked about becoming a U.S. citizen in 2009, teaching guest lectures at a university in Torreón (Mexico), and a previous marriage. He included specific solutions and actions for all citizens from every district. He emphasized the reason he is in the race is to bring people together and ‘find the common grounds for all citizens.’”
Some media has erroneously reported that Medina has failed to mention his birthplace, working in Mexico and citizenship. Chasnoff wrote: “Whether Medina lived in Mexico as an adult is not a campaign issue in itself. The question with bearing on the race is whether Medina is being honest with voters about his continuous residence here.”
But during a March 7th interview with NEWS LEGIT Medina fielded many questions for almost three hours about his background, philosophies and issues.
“I found him very candid and open about coming to the United States with his mother when he was three-years-old,” observed Dennis. “He talked about everything from being a manager of a college basketball team to working in Mexico, to building a business in foreign markets, to his vision for San Antonio. He was honest and well aware that the Express News, special interests and other powers–especially those seeking favors in the bond programs–would actively be against him.”
Ten years ago the Express News had a daily circulation near 230,000. But as of March 1, 2017 the Alliance for Audited Media reports it has dropped to 158,986 based on a five day average. Despite San Antonio being ranked as the 7th largest city in the United States, the Express News is ranked 29th in readership across the country. This in despite of the enormous growth of the city.
Chasnoff didn’t bother to mention that Manuel Medina, as mayor of San Antonio, would join a long list of people foreign born who have served as mayors across the country. The list would include such prominent Americans as George Maguire and James Barry of St. Louis, Abraham Beame, William Grace, Vincent Impellitteri, and Richard Croker of New York, John T. Browne of Houston, Patrick Collins and Hugh O’Brien of Boston, Anthony J. Celebrezze of Cleveland, Jimmy Delshad of Beverly Hills, Thomas Fallon of San Jose, and Charles Gillen of Newark.
Dennis wrote that “Medina is the only major candidate in favor of voting no against a pork-filled bond election in May ‘to get rid of Ivy Taylor’s and Ron Nirenberg’s pet projects. Citizens who read it and find out what is actually in it will cut it down in May and we can all re-vote in November to make certain we only address the more essential needs of all communities.’”
Governor Kate Brown (D) from Oregon was born in Spain. There have been dozens of Governors who were foreign born including Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), George Romney (Michigan), Arnold Schwarzenegger (California) and Julia Heil (Wisconsin).
“Adding insult to injury, the rest of the article questions if Mr. Medina’s residency was the United States of America during the period of time that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services both granted Mr. Medina residency and granted him citizenship,” wrote Ricardo Jimenez, who has organized a petition against the Express News. “Mr. Chasnoff’s column was both offensive and xenophobic by calling Mr. Medina a Mexican carpetbagger pretending to be a patriotic American…Brian Chasnoff should be held accountable for his word selection just as other reporters like Emily Austen, Don Imus, and Wendy Bell were held accountable for their racially insensitive remarks.”
When Dennis asked about his run for public office in Mexico, Medina explained he was “interested in expanding my business and this was a way to gain name recognition. I had worked as a teacher on and off several times a year or in a semester as a guest lecturer about doing business and political campaigns in the United States.” Although betrayed by some in the media as showing Medina’s intent to remain a Mexico citizen, the fact is, in Mexico a member of their house of representatives does not have to be a resident of Mexico. However, they do have to be born there. It is the Mexican Senate that requires being born there and residency of at least months in the state they are running in.
“The narrow-mindedness of this Hearst article perpetuates prejudice and discrimination towards naturalized citizens by ignoring the requirements the U.S. Government sets to maintain permanent residency and to be granted citizenship,” Jimenez continued. “Naturalized citizens are American citizens that have taken an oath of allegiance to the United States of America.”
There are currently ten members of the U.S. Congress who were not born in the United States. Don Beyer (D) Virginia was born in Italy. Diana DeGette (D) Colorado was born in Japan. Jim Himes (D) Connecticut was born in Peru. Republican Mark Meadows from North Carolina was born in France. There have been well over 50 more.
“They have sworn to renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign state, or sovereignty of which they had previously been a subject of,” wrote Jimenez. “They pledge to support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic…Doubting Mr. Medina’s patriotism knowing he took the Oath of Allegiance and questioning his residency knowing he was granted citizenship was xenophobic of Mr. Chasnoff.”
“Mr. Chasnoff’s suspicion of Mr. Medina’s purpose and length of stay in Mexico is ignorant of the U.S. Immigration Law which required Mr. Medina to undergo an intensive interview and background check by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” Jimenez said. “Given that Mr. Medina was awarded citizenship in 2009, demonstrates that the U.S. government found no merit or truth in any of the allegations Mr. Chasnoff’s column implies. How Hearst newspapers and The San Antonio Express News, could ignore this escapes me. Either they failed to do their due diligence before publishing this column, or choose to willfully ignore the steps naturalized citizens take to become Americans. If it is the latter then they are guilty of treating naturalized citizens with prejudice and intolerance.”
Senators Michael Bennet (D) Colorado was born in India, Ted Cruz (R) Texas was born in Canada, Tammy Duckworth (D) Illinois was born in Thailand, John McCain (R) Arizona was born in Panama Canal Zone, and Chris Van Hollen (D) Maryland was born in Pakistan. Some of the many former Senators not born in the United States include Barry Goldwater (Arizona), David H. Armstrong (Missouri) and Judah P. Benjamin (Louisiana).
“If Hearst newspapers doubted Mr. Medina, they should of had the integrity to contact the Department of Homeland Security and verify Mr. Medina’s background,” Jimenez added. “Instead, Hearst newspapers focused on manipulating their readers towards mistrusting Mr. Medina because he is a naturalized citizen. Essentially telling them, he doesn’t look like he belongs here, or that his citizenship is worth less than that of a natural-born citizen. Knowing that the leadership at Hearst Communications condones this type of behavior from their employees disheartens my faith in the media’s ability to report the truth.”
The Mayor of Miami, Tomas Pedro Regalado is was born in Cuba. State Supreme Court Justices Jorge Labarga from Florida was born in Cuba, Seamus McCaffery from Pennsylvania was born in Northern Ireland.