April 5, 2005


Border Watchers Capture Their Prey -- the Media (David Kelly, April 5, 2005, LA Times)

Jim Gilchrist bounced into the Trading Post diner here Monday, ordered coffee and toast and began smoking vigorously.

His cellphone occasionally rang, his two-way radio squawked and a coterie of followers hung on his every word.

Things were going better than he could imagine. The founder of the Minuteman Project, designed to put volunteers on the southeastern Arizona border to deter illegal immigrants, had attracted more than 200 journalists from around the world.

Mexico responded with more troops and extra police at the border to deter migrants. The U.S. Border Patrol boosted its ranks by 500 agents and Gilchrist had become a minor, if international, celebrity.

"None of this would have happened if it wasn't for the Minuteman action," he said. "This thing was a dog and pony show designed to bring in the media and get the message out and it worked."

Indeed it did. For weeks, the 56-year-old retired accountant from Aliso Viejo had promised 1,000 volunteers would be arriving in Arizona come April. But when the activists showed up Friday, they numbered about 200, a roughly 1-to-1 ratio with members of the news media.

And every one of them was in the A.V. Club in high school.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2005 7:56 AM

He got the Border Patrol beefed up and even got the Mexicans to help. That is called 'accomplishing your goal.' Not bad.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 8:21 AM

I give this media stunt another couple weeks, at most.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 5, 2005 11:01 AM

"And every one of them was in the A.V. Club in high school."

Perhaps your funniest comment ever -- OJ.

I assume you were president of the club, Ce n'est pas?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 5, 2005 11:03 AM

Well, he got the Border Patrol to shift some agents to Arizona -- where the media is playing this up as a big deal -- from the southwestern section of Texas, where the border crossings are nowhere near as big an issue. Which I suppose shows the Department of Homeland Security knows how to work the media just as well as Gilchrist does.

Posted by: John at April 5, 2005 12:07 PM