In 2007, reporters Paul Giblin and Ryan Gabrielson began investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Their findings (as many of you know) were that Arpaio’s hellbent focus on hunting down undocumented immigrants was detrimental to overall public safety in the county. The five-piece set of articles entitled “Reasonable Doubt” highlighted the racial profiling inherent in Arpaio’s 287(g) campaign.
With the help of an editor, the two exposed slow response times to emergencies and reduced law enforcement as the sheriff dedicated more of his agency’s resources to seeking out and arresting illegal immigrants.
Yesterday, it was announced that the two reporters were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their work on Sheriff Joe. Meanwhile, Joe himself made an appearance on the Colbert Report. Barely coherent, the nation’s toughest Sheriff bumbled his way through Colbert’s questions and seemed oblivious that the two reporters who had done such a compelling expose of his hypocrisy even existed. Click here to watch the video (I will embed later).
Colbert took it easy on him, since it was clear Arpaio had no real answers to even the simplest questions. Avoiding the truth about Arpaio’s backlogs of warrants, thousands of complaints of racial profiling and egregiously press-hungry efforts to self-publicize, Colbert asked
“How do you determine that someone might be Hispanic without using your eyeballs?…How do you do it? Do you have a secret sixth sense that you’re going to ask for one guy’s ID, and not another?”
Arpaio never gave a clear answer to that question. And though Colbert did ask for his ID, multiple times, it was never really clear whether Arpaio knew he was being mocked.
While I would have loved to see Colbert rip him to shreds, I am at least satisfied with Arpaio’s own attempts to make himself look incompetent. They were effective.
Congratulations to Giblin and Gabrielson for their Pulitzer Prizes, they deserve them for going after a villian like Arpaio. Let’s hope this draws more attention to the injustices facing the immigrant community across the country.