Many of you will recall my recent report on my public debate regarding the H-1B work visa with Rep. Ro Khanna (and a third person who did not really discuss the visa). To my knowledge, this was the first time a debate has been held between an elected official and a researcher on the topic, a major event in that sense.
In my opinion, Khanna did quite poorly in the debate. Though I was pleased to find that the idealism he has projected in the press seemed quite sincere — always a big plus in my book — he clearly knew rather little about the visa and even less about the visa’s critics.
The San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group had videoed the entire debate, and I had assumed they would make the video available online. Viewers could then see Khanna’s side of the story, rather than relying on my (presumably biased) report here. A contact at the Mercury promised to look into the status of the video, and informed me the next day that, unfortunately, the paper will not be placing the video online.
Alan Tonelson, who writes a thoughtful and erudite blog that generally takes a skeptical view of the tenets of globalism, made a blog post today on this entire “Videogate” incident. The last three paragraphs make the point especially strongly:
As Matloff noted in an email to me, “Certainly it would have cost the Merc nothing to put the video on the Web, quite easily and simply.” And it’s hard to disagree with his judgment that the paper “would be performing a major public service by placing the video online (in full, of course).”
So it’s necessary to take seriously Matloff when he speculated, in that same email to me: “I can certainly see the Merc wanting to protect Rep. Khanna. They had endorsed Khanna, and generally feel their loyalty is to the tech industry. Their coverage of H-1B has been fair, but their editorial position has always been pro-H-1B.”
Matloff’s views are hardly dispositive – though I have always found him to be scrupulously honest. What could not be clearer, however, is that the Mercury News could reinforce its claims to objectivity by posting the video. With every passing day that it fails, the case for questioning its motives can only grow.
In the last 20 to 30 years, the Mercury has grown in journalistic stature in direct proportion to the rise of the Silicon Valley, and must now be regarded as one of the top newspapers in the nation. As such, I had naively assumed they would make the video available publicly, which as noted, would cost them nothing in time, effort or money. Quite a disappointment, I’d say.