CNN’s One-Sided Look at NAFTA

By April 1, 2006General

We just happened to catch a segment on CNN yesterday on NAFTA. Apparently old wounds were re-opened in light of the President’s visit to Mexico this week with his NAFTA partners. CNN is still listening for Ross Perot’s giant sucking sound.

So they did a report on NAFTA and they invited Teamsters President Jim Hoffa (so far, so good), and then they added Frank Gaffney of the Michigan AFL-CIO who essentially agreed with everything Jim Hoffa said. They closed with some professor from New Mexico who talks about the deleterious effects of NAFTA on Mexican farmers. It appears that CNN’s view of balance was to have folks criticize NAFTA’s impact on both sides of the border. You can see for yourself in this transcript.

For the record, we thought we’d remind CNN that in fact the US economy added some 300,000 jobs in the auto sector alone in the years after NAFTA passed during the Clinton Administration. We know — it’s a little-known fact. And while the cranks continue to carp about it, here’s a link to a fact sheet we put out on NAFTA a while ago that’s still good. You’ll see there — among other facts that CNN ignored — that manufacturing jobs and real compensation grew faster after NAFTA than before. As we like to say, facts are stubborn things. Here’s a link to another fact sheet on NAFTA, this one from the Office of the US Trade Representative, a pretty credible source. Maybe CNN couldn’t find their phone number, either….

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Jack Bogusch says:

    The gov’t professor, Jason Ackleson, teaches at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, as opposed to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque… His c.v. is interesting (Google the name), London School of Economics…

  • Barry L. Jones says:

    Thank you for the referral. It was a truly dizzying array of numbers but what I was hoping for was a reference to statements made by NAFTA advocates about the benefits it would bring. Since you’re in the business of representing NAM now I understand if you don’t have a lot of then laying around the office. What got me going in this direction was an article in Front Page Magazine recalling all the now totally discredited statements made by the advocates of the 1965 Immigration Bill. I’m really tired of legislation that doesn’t live up to the sales pitch. (I wanted to nail down the pitch before putting NAFTA in this category.) I will say that, as far as I know, no NAFTA backer ever said we should do it “for the children.”
    And I agree with you in part, our economy is the biggest draw for immigrants from all over the world. The biggest draw within that economy for illegal immigrants has to be crooked bosses hiring illegal aliens illegally. What is NAM’s position on border enforcement? What is NAM’s position on real, serious workplace enforcement? Does NAM have a position on whether someone should have his SS# verified before starting work? Does NAM have a position on whether enforcement should take place before or at the same time as the creation of a guest worker program?
    Barry L. Jones
    Houston, Texas

  • Pat Cleary says:


    Good questions, all. I’ll start with your last point, i.e., the fact that CNN went over the top stating their case doesn’t make asking Q’s about NAFTA out of line. I agree in part, but the point is, presumably CNN ought not be making a case. They ought to be presenting a balanced view, no? IF this were the AFL-CIO, I’d agree with you, but it’s CNN — and nary a trace of balance. That was my biggest gripe with the piece.

    As to your other comments, many of these are addressed by the fact sheets that I linked to. Here’s a link to another document that more specifically addresses your Q’s:

    NAFTA critics of the kind interviewed on CNN that day say that it’s been an economic disaster. It has not. There has been no giant sucking sound. As for the Mexican economy, NAFTA wasn’t going to cure that in a few years, or even in a decade or two. Ours is still a great and strong economy and will serve as a powerful pull for immigrants the world over for many decades to come.

    Hope this addresses some of your good points. Thanks for writing.

    Pat Cleary

  • Barry L. Jones says:

    Dear Pat:
    Thank you for the post which I saw at Powerline. I read the CNN transcript and the PDF you linked to. I’d like you to develop those facts a little more. Did I read that the US trade deficit with NAFTA countries actually grew after 1993? How does this performance compare to the predictions made by NAFTA advocates when it was being debated? What were the predicted numbers? What are the numbers now? And is it possible to confine these to Mexico only, not ?NAFTA countries?? Did these predictions turn out to be more or less accurate than those made about the cost of Medicare back in ’65?
    Next, if Mexico is so wonderful, why are so many Mexicans looking for work illegally here in my home town of Houston? With immigration a raging issue today, I’d just like to know how to describe Mexico: either ten million (at least) Mexicans are lying about fleeing from poverty or somebody’s misinformed about conditions in Mexico. If Mexico really is doing well, Mexico should be able to employ, educate, and medicate Mexicans in Mexico.
    The US auto industry’s problems stem from decisions made by bad management and bad labor unions dating back to the 1970’s (at least), well before NAFTA. The fact that the guys interviewed on CNN went way over the top stating their case doesn’t make asking questions about the benefits of NAFTA out of line.
    Barry L. Jones

  • Pat Cleary says:


    You’re right — my mistake. I should have been clearer. The professor from NM’s point was that NAFTA was hurting Mexicans, which it’s not. I just changed the language to reflect that.

    Apologies to my friends in New Mexico — it is indeed on this side of the border… 🙂

    Thanks for writing,

    Pat Cleary

  • John says:

    I do believe that New Mexico is still north of the border!