In Jon Stewart Interview, Chris Wallace Takes On Diane Sawyer – And Loses

In Chris Wallace’s interview of Jon Stewart on Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2011, Mr. Wallace accused Diane Sawyer of ABC News of getting her reporting wrong in a 2010 report, as an example of the too-liberal shortcomings of mainstream media.

In fact, it is Mr. Wallace who got it wrong.  Here’s why.  Wallace played a clip of Diane Sawyer reporting on the newly signed AZ immigration law in 2010.  She said that it required AZ police to stop and question people who do not seem to be U.S. citizens.

Wallace then turned to Jon Stewart and said:  “But that isn’t what the law requires them to do.  In fact, the law says the only way that you can stop somebody is as part of a lawful enforcement stop.  You can’t just say, hey, you’re walking down the street, exactly as she suggested.  It has to be because, there’s a broken taillight, or they’re loitering, or they’re doing something else.  Don’t you think she should have mentioned that?” 

But Wallace had his facts wrong.  He was describing a later amendment to the law, NOT the version that Arizona adopted on April 23, 2010, the date of Diane Sawyer’s report.  As adopted, the AZ law worked just as she said — AZ cops were required to detain a person to determine their immigration status if the cop had ANY LAWFUL CONTACT AT ALL with the person, and if there was reasonable suspicion that the person was an illegal alien.

Literally, if the cop saw the person just walking down the street.

Diane Sawyer had it right.  Absolutely NO “lawful enforcement stop” was required by the Arizona law when it was adopted.  Chris Wallace bungled his reporting as he smeared Ms. Sawyer on national television. 

The question is, will Mr. Wallace apologize to Diane Sawyer for this?  And should he apologize to Jon Stewart, for confronting him with a totally false “gotcha” of mainstream media, and asking Mr. Stewart to comment on his fabrication on the spot?


As adopted on April 23, 2010, the Arizona immigration law (Senate Bill 1070) required AZ police who have “ANY LAWFUL CONTACT” with somebody to detain them in order to determine their immigration status “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.”  No other law enforcement stop was required, as claimed by Chris Wallace.

Later, on April 30, 2010, the AZ governor signed an amendment (House Bill 2162), which deleted the “any lawful contact” precondition, and replaced it with the condition that the police officer must have encountered the suspected alien in “ANY LAWFUL STOP, DETENTION, OR ARREST . . . IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF ANY OTHER LAW OR ORDINANCE.”   This amended version is what Wallace was describing.

Here is the AZ immigration law, with the later April 30 amendment language shown in a different color:

Here is an Arizona news source reporting about the April 30 amendment, stating: “The bill also clarifies that law-enforcement officers shall inquire about the immigration status only of those they “stop, detain or arrest.”  The earlier bill simply said “contact.”  The change is designed to allay fears that officers would have to examine the papers of anyone they spoke to….”

I viewed Mr. Wallace’s interview of Jon Stewart here, and his smear of Diane Sawyer begins at 6:55: