NYT Standards: Privacy for Illegal Immigrants, But Not for Prop 8 Donors?

Reporter Kirk Johnson overheats on the front page: "A list of 1,300 Utah residents described as illegal immigrants has sown fear among some Hispanics here, and prompted an investigation into its origins and dissemination."

Kirk Johnson filed an overheated article from Salt Lake City for Thursday's front page: "'Immigrant' List in Utah Reveals Private Data and Sets Off Fears." Apparently this isn't what the Times means when it constantly pleads for illegal immigrants to be allowed "to come out of the shadows."

Johnson, known for his hyper-sensitivity to any sign of conservative political weakness in Utah, kept the focus squarely on alleged privacy and safety concerns stirred by the dissemination of the list - not the fact of massive illegal immigration.

A list of 1,300 Utah residents described as illegal immigrants has sown fear among some Hispanics here, and prompted an investigation into its origins and dissemination.

Each page of the list is headed with the words "Illegal Immigrants" and each entry contains details about the individuals listed - from their address and telephone number to their date of birth and, in the case of pregnant women, their due dates. The letter was received by law enforcement and media outlets on Monday and Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Gov. Gary R. Herbert said Wednesday that an investigation was under way to see if state employees might have been involved in releasing the private information.

A memorandum accompanying the list said it was from Concerned Citizens of the United States. It urged immediate deportation proceedings against the people listed, as well as publication of their names by the news media.

Johnson shielded the identity of two people he spoke with, both of whom were here illegally, including "Monzon" from Guatemala:

The list came at a time of increased tension over illegal immigration, both in Utah and in the country, two weeks before neighboring Arizona enacts a tough new law aimed at fighting illegal immigration. The federal government has sued Arizona over the law. Here in Salt Lake City, a group of state lawmakers is drafting a bill patterned after it.

Several people on the list expressed anxiety that their personal information had been released, and said they were concerned about their safety and that of their families. Some of those on the list said the heightened pressure could force them from the country.

One Guatemalan man, who spoke only on condition that he be identified as Monzon, admitted that he was in the country illegally. He said he had tried hard to keep off lists of all sorts, essentially by being the best American he could - paying his taxes and staying out of debt.

"I have always tried to keep my record clean," he said.

But he struck a fatalistic note that might please the letter writers: "It might just be time to reflect and think if the time has come to leave," he said.

A sidebar from reporters Jeremy Peters and Brian Stelter patted the back of Utah news outlets that refused to run names from the list, which they summarized as a "tasteless effort" to grab attention.

But the Times doesn't always show such punctilious concern for privacy and safety concerns about posting information that's been compiled (surreptitiously or not) by state authorities. At least not when it comes to U.S. citizens participating in the political process in a fashion displeasing to the left.

Last year California caused conservative outcry when it released the names of donors to the successful ballot initiative Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, despite past examples of death threats and firings visited on donors by the angry left. Reporter Jesse McKinley identified one donor by name in his Feb. 3, 2009 article.

Nearly 14,000 donors - including homemakers, priests and a former member of the Los Angeles Dodgers - poured millions of dollars into the last two weeks of the campaign to pass Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California. According to a campaign finance report made public on Monday, in all, both sides spent more than $83 million....The report on the ban's supporters, which covered the closing days of the campaign, shows a wide variety of backers. They include Jeff Kent, the recently retired second baseman who donated $15,000, and a janitor from Cupertino, Calif., who donated $99. Jeff Klein, a lawyer for Mr. Kent, said he had no comment on his client's donation.

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