Network PM Newscasts AVOID NYC Mayor Adams’ Racist ‘Swimmers’ Remarks

News & Politics

The evening network newscasts leave us, once again, to imagine what coverage might have been had a Republican elected official attested to migrants making great lifeguards due to their being “excellent swimmers”, as did New York Mayor Eric Adams. The wild stereotyping and casual racism are all there for the taking but the networks took a pass, leaving reasonable individuals to conclude that there’s a (D)ifference in how such stories are covered.

Beyond the conservative media ecosystem, only NBC News Now has dared to cover the story. Here’s how Tom Llamas opened his report on his eponymous show:

TOM LLAMAS: Back here in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams sparking controversy over remarks he made about migrants, appearing to suggest they could fill the city’s lifeguard shortage because they are, quote, “excellent swimmers”. Take a listen.

ERIC ADAMS: If we had a migrant and asylum seeker plan that states those jobs that we are in high demand, we could expedite. How do we have a large body of people in our city and country that are excellent swimmers and at the same time, we need lifeguards? And the only obstacle is that won’t give them the right to work to become a lifeguard? That just doesn’t make sense.

LLAMAS: That quote really doesn’t make sense. Adams’ administration has faced criticism over its handling of the estimated 180,000 migrants who have arrived in the city since 2022, many of them ending up in the city’s already overwhelmed shelter system.

Llamas would go on to interview a local migrant advocate who blasted Adams for his dual discourse when it comes to migrants, and for his view that the migrant crisis will destroy New York City. Llamas continued to blast Adams for his remarks, and questioned whether his factual basis for calling migrants “excellent swimmers” is the notion that they swam across the Rio Grande, or perhaps the Florida Strait- lamenting the lack of outrage over Adams’ remarks in a “progressive” city.

TOM LLAMAS: But I also want to talk about just sort of painting with a very broad brush that the migrants in New York are all great swimmers. Where would he get that from, unless it had something to do with crossing the Rio Grande, or because some of them may come from places like Cuba or Haiti, or another island? Regardless, it’s incredibly racist and I am shocked and really upset that there hasn’t been more sort of outrage in this city. A city that claims to be progressive, a city that claims to protect people from all nationalities and no one really cares about this.

It’s true, and the record will reflect that included within the “no one” that cares about Adams’ remarks: his own colleagues across the dial and including at his own network. None of the evening network newscasts reported on this story. 

And how could they, when reporting on the casual racism of the Mayor of New York would have surely forced them to cut their gushing stories on Caitlin Clark and the highly anticipated start of the WNBA season?

Shockingly, neither did “Latino advocate” networks Univision or Telemundo. This is a stark departure from their normal custom, which is to dedicate three minutes of A-block to the occasional TikTok of a random Karen screaming “speak English” to illegals at some indeterminate local retail establishment.

It goes without saying that had a prominent Republican said anything close to what Adams said, there would be a multi-day cycle and some enterprising White House correspondent would’ve already gotten President Joe Biden to mumble “something, something, Cesar Chávez.” 

But Tom Llamas learned the hard way, and on a personal issue, what we’ve already known: that there is a (D)ifference as to how these stories are covered.

Click “expand” to view the full transcript of the aforementioned report as streamed on NBC News Now’s Top Story With Tom Llamas, on Tuesday, May 14th, 2024:  

TOM LLAMAS: Back here in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams sparking controversy over remarks he made about migrants, appearing to suggest they could fill the city’s lifeguard shortage because they are, quote, “excellent swimmers”. Take a listen.

ERIC ADAMS: If we had a migrant and asylum seeker plan that states those jobs that we are in high demand, we could expedite. How do we have a large body of people in our city and country that are excellent swimmers and at the same time, we need lifeguards? And the only obstacle is that won’t give them the right to work to become a lifeguard? That just doesn’t make sense.

LLAMAS: That quote really doesn’t make sense. Adams’ administration has faced criticism over its handling of the estimated 180,000 migrants who have arrived in the city since 2022, many of them ending up in the city’s already overwhelmed shelter system. For more on Adams’ remarks, the state of the migrant crisis in New York City, I’m joined now by Power Malu, he is the executive director of Artists, Athletes, and Activists, it’s a grassroots organization that connects migrants here in the city with key services including shelter, food, medical care and legal support. Power, I want to thank you for joining me. I want to start with the mayor’s comments there. I know how I interpreted that- those comments, how did you interpret them?

POWER MALU: Once again, we have an administration that’s deflecting attention off of their incompetency and mismanagement, and pointing the finger at the migrants. At any given press conference, you’ll have this administration blame the migrants for the financial woes of the city and in the same breath, they’ll praise and say the migrants should be allowed to work because they can help us.

LLAMAS: Yeah, I get that, but I also want to talk about just sort of painting with a very broad brush that the migrants in New York are all great swimmers. Where would he get that from, unless it had something to do with crossing the Rio Grande, or because some of them may come from places like Cuba or Haiti, or another island? Regardless, it’s incredibly racist and I am shocked and really upset that there hasn’t been more sort of outrage in this city. A city that claims to be progressive, a city that claims to protect people from all nationalities and no one really cares about this.

MALU: Yeah, we have an administration that is constantly doing things like this and it gets brushed under the rug. Also, this mayor says that people attack him because he is black or African-American. So what we are having here is just excuse after excuse as to why you’re not dealing with the migrant crisis. And I want to say is that there are plenty of grassroots organizations that have been supporting since Day One, and this administration has constantly said that there is no resources, but they are abundant. There’s abundance of resources.

LLAMAS: Do you think a mayor who could make a comment like that has an understanding of who these people are and where they come from? ‘Cause they really come from all over the world.

MALU: Absolutely. This is stereotypes. This is, you know, a mayor that is not in touch with what’s going on. We’ve been on the ground since Day One. There are people that cross from Africa, from Afghanistan, from Latin America, they are from all over the world. So to just say that people that are here are great swimmers, it’s a poor comment. 

LLAMAS: Do you think it was literally connected to them crossing the Rio Grande? Do you think that’s where the logic came- I don’t even know where the logic comes from.

MALU: So you’re talking about a mayor who said that these migrants are the issue that’s going to crush New York City. That’s what he said at another townhall meeting. So you can’t listen to the things that he says because this administration are spin masters. They always try to find a way to deflect attention. Where do you get migrants are great swimmers and they are going to save the situation with the pools and the beaches? You should’ve been thinking about this a year ago when that problem existed. Yes, of course they are skilled when they come here and they are looking for work and they deserve work but it doesn’t happen by osmosis. Our organization has been helping them file for work authorization and asylum and they can’t even get their mail because they’re constantly being moved from shelter to shelter. Let’s deal with the root of the problem.

LLAMAS: All right, Power Malu. I also want to say that we’ve- we reached out for comment to the City of New York and to Mayor Adams, I think we’re still waiting on that comment. But anyways, Power, we appreciate you.

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