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Instead Of Reporting, Fox News Uses Proposed Pay Raises For Bilingual Federal Employees As Political Fodder

Reported by Ellen - March 13, 2010 -

Co-authored by Brian

On yesterday’s (3/12/10) Your World, Neil Cavuto purported to discuss an idea by Rep. Michael Honda to give a 5% raise to government workers who are bilingual. Cavuto announced that Honda had declined to appear on the show. Rather than do any real reporting on the actual job requirements of federal employees or Honda’s reasoning (which could have been found in his press release), Cavuto made a token attempt to summarize Honda’s position – which he obviously disagreed with – and spent the rest of the time getting the GOP perspective from Republican strategist Alice Stewart. Not surprisingly, Stewart used most of her time to attack multiculturalism. Nobody ever got to the heart of Honda’s proposal which was,as he explained it, an effort to make the federal government more effective. With video.

As Honda explained in his release, bilingual skills are increasingly necessary for federal employees to do their jobs. According to Honda, those with the skills get extra work. He feels they should be compensated for this additional value that they offer. But Stewart repeatedly suggested that Honda was trying to coddle non-English speakers.

"This is a bad idea for many reasons,” Stewart told an obviously sympathetic Cavuto. “…Here we're using taxpayer dollars to subsidize multilingualism in this country, and we shouldn't be doing that. The government should be …promot(ing) the English language in this country… From a business standpoint, where’s the federal government coming up with this money to do this? …It just makes no sense."

"You're right to bring it up,” Cavuto said, before adding the “balance” that just happened to play into the “catering to non-English” meme: “The Congressman is saying that, ‘Look, these type of government workers help people acclimate through the U.S. system, get them familiar with what we're all about, so that they can eventually speak English.' You have your doubts."

Cavuto failed to point out that, as Honda said, other languages are already needed for many federal workers to do their jobs properly. As the Washington Times reported, “The number of people who speak a language other than English at home has jumped to 55 million, including many native-born Americans.” Those people need to mail packages, pay their taxes, serve as witnesses in criminal cases, visit their wounded relatives in VA hospitals, contact their Congressional representatives and – yes, Glenn Beck – visit national parks. Federal workers need to be able to communicate with those people.

But Stewart, who probably never spent a day in her life observing the kinds of real-life encounters federal workers face, announced, "If we just completely stopped catering to the multilingualism out there, they would certainly learn how to speak English… Let the private sector decide who should get pay raises. The federal government is coming in and picking and choosing who should get a pay raise." Well, yeah. When it comes to government employees, I would think the government should pick and choose who should get a raise. But I think what Stewart meant was that the federal government was giving some kind of preference to their bilingual workers (read: Hispanics) in order to coddle certain (read: Hispanic immigrants) members of the public.

Cavuto merely said, "Very good points all."