"Crisis Manager" Xavier Hermosillo Shrewdly Defuses Immigration Tumult By Threatening Cartoonist

Murrieta, California is a town recently known for angry crowds screaming at Immigration & Customs Enforcement buses full of kids. Apparently Murrieta thinks that sort of coverage is not a selling point for the town, because they hired Xavier Hermosillo, a "Crisis Manager." This is a typical and prudent move. Across America, if you ask public officials "how can we recapture the media narrative, calm hostility and anger, and promote sensible dialogue," they will inevitably reply "hire an internet talk show host."

Hermosillo set to work. What could he do to calm the troubled waters, improve the town's reputation, and capture the sympathy of the media?

Of course! He could make moronic defamation threats against Lalo Alcaraz, a political cartoonist who writes the strip La Cucaracha! I can see no way that could go badly.

Hermosillo was apparently agitated over a La Cucaracha cartoon that suggested the bus-screamers were racist. A political cartoonist commenting on politics and public behavior? THIS WILL NOT STAND!


For the picture-impaired: Mr. Hermosillo said "Lalo, There IS a fine line between your Constitutional right to draw cartoons and expressed [sic] your opinions, and falsely, deliberately, and maliciously labeling and attacking an entire community as racist or as 'Hate City.' You are working overtime to damage Murrieta and such a false premise is actionable. There's a fine line between humor and stupidity. You may have crossed that line at your own peril."

This is, of course, utter bollocks. An "entire community" can't file a defamation suit. Even if they could, political cartoons are at the very core of what the First Amendment protects. Like it or hate it, Lalo's cartoon is a classic example of a political opinion, stated cartoonishly, in reaction to public facts. You may disagree with Lalo's suggestion that the bus-screamers were racists, or that their behavior is fairly attributable to the community of Murrieta, but nobody with the most minimal grasp of defamation law or the First Amendment would think it's an actionable false statement of fact.

Under the familiar Streisand Effect, this buffoonish threat will probably draw far more attention to the comic, draw more negative attention to city leadership ("we paid tax dollars to hire this cretin?"), and make the media substantially more hostile, if that is possible. One thing is for certain: it will not promote any intelligent debate on immigration whatsover.

You would think that a "Crisis Manager" would understand the Streisand Effect, wouldn't you?

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Turk says

    Typo. Murrieta is the correct spelling, from both the NYT article and from Wikipedia. Damn, and I was going to slam The X-Man for the typo. Govern your blog accordingly…. :)

  2. Josh C says

    What on Earth do you mean? It sounds like he has successfully leveraged Streisand to shift attention from the town to his antics. In a week or so, officials can fire him while expressing sorrow and disappointment, and everyone will feel satisfied that good has triumphed, without ever discussing the immigration part.

  3. Stu says

    "will probably draw far more attention to the comic"

    It worked, I had not paid attention to all of this, but went to the website to see.

  4. nl7 says

    It's not unreasonable to think that racial or cultural animus plays a significant part in the immigration debate. How many townspeople are patrolling for or physically blockading residents of neighboring states or neighboring metro areas? No villagers are wielding pitchforks to keep Californians out of Nevada and no torchlit rabble blocks the roads from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.

    Though there are protests (not physical blockades, but words and lobbying) against the expansion of the ultraorthodox town in NY. Which is definitely a culture clash.

  5. mcinsand says

    jtf, I was thinking of a different star wars quote, albeit modified with Ken's proposed town question; "we paid tax dollars to hire this cretin?"

    Who's the more cretinish, the cretin or the cretin who hires him?

  6. says

    Censorious threat? Check. Streisand Effect? Check. But, he threatened him through Instagram? Really???

    Kids these days… Won't even take the time to write a properly-formatted business letter when making vague threats of legal action.

  7. JWH says

    Hmmm … I would think that rather than fulminate about litigation, the PR "crisis manager" would invite the cartoonist to come visit Murrietta and show him all the good things about the city … oh, and load him down with Murrietta swag while he's at it (sports drink bottle, tote bag, etc.)

  8. R Not a lawyer says

    This may be a little off topic, but Hermosillo's bio said "He earned two Pulitzer Prize nominations."
    I went to the Pulitzer website and searched for his name and did not find him in the list of nominated finalists, which goes back to 1980.
    By earned a nomination does he mean that he sent in his articles and $50? That is how you enter you piece to be considered.

  9. Herveus says

    I felt compelled to share this, although the primary share was the cartoon itself, with a reference here for the rest of the tale…

    Yay Streisand Effect!

  10. Resolute says

    @R Not a lawyer – Sounds a lot like "Nobel Peace Prize nominee" Yank Barry. Unlike Xavier, however, Yank has escalated things by filing a SLAPP suit against several Wikipedia editors.

    Xavier hasn't reached the big leagues yet.

  11. Cliff says

    +1 for the apt use of 'complete bollocks', not something I often hear from your countryfolk over yonder.

  12. Bob Brown says

    I wish you had not written "picture-impaired." I have only one blind acquaintance, but I suspect he would have preferred you to write, "The text in the screenshot says…"

  13. Bob Brown says

    Blast! I came back to edit, but the time window had closed. I apologize.

    The blind use text-to-speech synthesizers called screen readers to deal with the web. Text: good. Pictures: useless. However, an alternative would have been to put the text represented by the image into the alt= attribute. The screen reader would have read that, and your blind readers, if any, would never have noticed that anything was amiss.

  14. Bob Brown says

    Ken, oh! OK. I'm sorry. I don't have no steenkin' mobile devices. And I posted my second message while you were posting yours, so I apologize again.

  15. Simon Spero says

    An "entire community" can't file a defamation suit.

    "Most of the 25 residents of Murrieta are furries"?

  16. Wick Deer says

    TBogg had this observation, "If maligning a city is ‘actionable,’ Cleveland would own all of our asses right now"

  17. mm says

    @R not a Lawyer: I have heard, but not verified, that one can make a Nobel nomination of anyone, including themselves, without incurring cost. Pulitzer is trying to price out the riff-raff, I guess.

    [Ken- the site is doing that weird formatting thing again. I did find a tab at the very end, however, that said "view entire site" and clicked it to get back to normal programming. We'll see if it sticks].

  18. says

    Murrieta isn't just racist; it's racist and seditious.

    Come at me, Hermosillo.

    I don't usually like to attribute the behavior of one political faction to the entire jurisdiction where it arises, but sometimes the broad brush is appropriate. Calling Murrieta racist and seditious is like calling Palo Alto (my childhood hometown) pathologically privileged and sheltered. Not all of it is like that, but the parts that aren't are the exceptions that prove the rule.

    The manifestations of nativism in San Diego County are about as disgusting as you can imagine, and the ambient environment of racism there can be pretty appalling, too, so it's no surprise to see the same vile attitudes on display a few miles north of the county line in a working-class community where the Border Patrol was trying to organize the mass processing of minors seeking asylum. And I don't mean to imply that affluent San Diegans aren't racist. They're god-awful condescending pricks in their dealings with working-class Latin Americans, whom they view as interchangeable sources of meek, cheap domestic labor, but they clean up better than the Minuteman yahoos and the "beaner raid" Marines at Camp Pendleton (thugs, likely recruited on bad conduct waivers, who commit aggravated assault on innocent migrant fruit pickers for sport). (Eric Schlosser mentioned the "beaner raids" two decades ago in "In the Strawberry Fields. It's a deep-rooted problem.) One constituency uses the black market to trash the legal labor market by hiring foreigners who functionally have no civil rights to seek recourse in the event of workplace mistreatment; the other uses force and threats of violence to obstruct the lawful and legally mandated efforts of federal immigration officials to process immigrants it dislikes.

    Locals in that part of SoCal who sincerely give a shit about the rule of law as it pertains to immigration and work authorization are above rubies. I can't say for sure that there are any. The civic center does not hold.

    What scares me is that this riot in Murrieta may be the tip of the iceberg. I'm bracing for some hillbilly Gavrilo Princip to show up armed to the teeth at the Rio Grande and start a border war with the Mexican authorities or, God forbid, one of the head-in-a-bag cartels. I really, really want the Border Patrol to nip any vigilante activity on the Rio Grande in the bud, with lethal live fire if need be. We have all these Charles Martel/Paul Revere/Marine Todd wannabes who don't realize that they might piss off stone-cold psychopaths who specialize in wholesale gangland murder if they shoot the wrong migrant. Some of these people just don't understand that the cartels aren't likely to fold the way the feds did at the Bundy Ranch.

    Non-state actors using intimidation to usurp duly constituted state authority on both sides of the border: we live in interesting times indeed.

  19. the other rob says

    As Cliff says, very well done Ken. For your next assignment, please use the word as part of the phrase "the dog's bollocks".

  20. Simon Spero says

    use the word as part of the phrase "the dog's bollocks"

    That would bring the entire matter under English jurisdiction, in which case the defendant probably loses because the current English libel laws are on a par with the current English football team.

  21. Sheriff Fathead says

    For extra credit, please briefly explain the difference between calling something "b*ll*cks" and calling it "the b*ll*cks", giving an example of each.

    [Apologies for asterisks; posting from work.]

  22. Connie says

    As someone who grew up in Elsinore/Wildomar, I was totally unsurprised at Murietta. The city is middle class predominantly white republicans in cookie-cutter houses trying to forget they're surrounded by hispanics on every angle because, gee, they SETTLED the damn place.

    I remember when Murietta was ALL DIRT and a few strip malls off the freeway. Then all the housing came in and BAM. Instasnobbery.

  23. says

    @Josh C: good point!

    @Ken: Lovely juxtaposition at the end there…

    You would think that a "Crisis Manager" would understand the Streisand Effect, wouldn't you?

    Govern yourselves accordingly!

    … but maybe from Josh C's perspective, Hermosillo's just a troll.

  24. luagha says

    "I'm bracing for some hillbilly Gavrilo Princip to show up armed to the teeth at the Rio Grande and start a border war with the Mexican authorities or, God forbid, one of the head-in-a-bag cartels. I really, really want the Border Patrol to nip any vigilante activity on the Rio Grande in the bud, with lethal live fire if need be."

    You've just advocated for our government to use more force assaulting our own citizens who are trying to protect our country illegally than they are allowed to use to defend our country from invasion.

    It doesn't strike me as a good policy. Of course the fault lies in the government failing in its duty to protect the border, not in the citizen. But you compound the error.

  25. albert says


    I wouldn't mind if the Pulitzer folks gave out awards to douchebags, as long as they portrayed them as such, but the selection process would be a bitch.

    So many douchebags, so little time.

    Instead of pissing and moaning about 'piracy' and 'lost profits', RIAA members should simply stop supporting it. There's no evidence that these lawsuits accomplish anything as far as increasing record company income. Their 'product' is outrageously overpriced, demand declines, and they need to become 'victims of crime' to appease the BODs and stockholders.


    I gotta go…

  26. says

    I'm bracing for some hillbilly Gavrilo Princip to show up armed to the teeth at the Rio Grande and start a border war with the Mexican authorities or, God forbid, one of the head-in-a-bag cartels. I really, really want the Border Patrol to nip any vigilante activity on the Rio Grande in the bud, with lethal live fire if need be.

    They are too busy being shot at by the Mexican authorities to have the time to spend looking for vigilantes.

  27. melK says

    >>An "entire community" can't file a defamation suit.

    >"Most of the 25 residents of Murrieta are furries"?

    … entire … community … furry … suit…

    Oh, man, I need a mind scrub, stat! It doesn't matter which set of words (including "defamation") you use, the image just gets worse and worse…

  28. VPJ says

    >"Most of the 25 residents of Murrieta are furries"?

    Furry? Ponies are furry…hrmmmmmm…

  29. Avatar says

    What, didn't you know that the reason that Border Patrol agents were armed was not to prevent illegal immigration, but to instantly shoot dead anyone who attempts to prevent the illegal immigration that they are supposed to be preventing?

    Given that the federal government has ruled that local governments are responsible for providing services for illegal immigrants (while simultaneously reserving the right to deny federal services, of course), no local community should be happy about having additional illegal immigrants show up, especially ones with no means of support; being furious that the federal government might ship thousands of them specifically to your community SHOULD be met with anger. (Yes, yes, they say they're going to send them home tout suite. You may forgive the locals for skepticism on that score.)

    That said, the proper response to mockery is more mockery, not stupid and unsupportable legal threats. Find what city the cartoonist is from and suggest that further unaccompanied minors be sent there forthwith. Either the cartoonist will agree (and shortly hear about it from his less-than-enthusiastic neighbors), or disagree (and demonstrate himself a hypocrite), or shut up and go away (in which case you got what you wanted even without the lawsuit threat).

    For extra points, have it done in political cartoon format.

  30. Zem says

    Crisis management is about escalation, not diffusion. It's one of those jobs where if you did it right you get paid for a month, if you do it wrong you get paid for six months.

  31. HamOnRye says

    @Andrew Roth

    Your priorities seem to be thoroughly screwed.

    Of all the things that could be critiqued, you pour your venom and contemp out on the common people and the community that has to deal with the fallout of this debacle.

  32. PresidentGuy says

    Nothing makes the media more accommodating and understanding than threatening them with merit-less lawsuits.

  33. Trent says

    It doesn't strike me as a good policy. Of course the fault lies in the government failing in its duty to protect the border, not in the citizen. But you compound the error.

    You aren't going to stop illegal immigration with "border protection". We had this thing called the Berlin wall for a lot of years. There was an advanced military stationed on the wall, it was a 20' tall concrete wall with a minefield and sentries that shot people on sight. People routinely crossed the wall illegally anyway.

    You could build a 10' thick, 100' tall concrete wall topped with continuously firing machine guns, put a trench full of genetically engineered lizards that breath fire in front of the wall and a roving band of killer terminator robots roaming between the trench and border and people will still get across the border.

    You won't stop illegal immigration until you are willing to aggressively punish businesses and people that hire illegal immigrants (and by that I mean 5 digit fines and jail time). And there are a whole lot of business owners in both parties that will ensure you never ever pass a law that punishes them for hiring illegal workers. Instead those same business people spend lots of money on a propaganda campaign that pushes the message if you just "secure" the border it will solve all the problems.

    If you want to halt illegal immigration you need to petition your congress-critters to enact a real verification systems (not the deliberately broken e-verify system those same businesses paid good money to ensure is broken) and put in place severe punishments for those that hire illegal immigrants. Nothing else is going to stop illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants have a very hard time finding jobs in almost every other country in the world because those countries actually punish people for hiring them not waste time building the Berlin wall on their border. All building a Berlin wall will do is increase the money the Coyote's get for bringing them across, it won't even impede the immigration enough to matter.

  34. trebuchet says

    Off-topic, but getting the mobile version again. There's a "view full site" link at the bottom but it doesn't fix it.

    Edit: And once again, posting a comment fixed it.

  35. Tony says

    Just a heads-up.

    It seems someone on the Murrieta side is trying to suppress some aspects of this story, because if you search for things related to 'Xavier Hermasillo' on Google.se (as well as on other of Google's European pages), this comes up almost every time;

    Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe.

    Even a search on Bing states some search results have been retracted.

    Not sure why a small US town would be concerned about their reputation in Europe, but, well, whatever… Any chance any of you readers here could figure out what exactly is being censored, and why?

  36. says

    Yadda, yadda, yadda. A) It isn't racist. It's bigotry. We don't care what color they are, we just don't like their culture. B) Nobody in San Diego county would be using these people as meek, cheap domestic labor if they were still in their home countries. C) You sound like you're hoping for violence, to prove you're prejudices are correct. I'd prefer that we encourage these immigrants to stay home, work hard and make something of the countries where they feel at home. But, I'm willing be educated. What solutions do you have? What actions have you taken?

  37. jax♥ says

    leik, i think the only thing more pretentious than pompously threatening libel action over a political cartoon is using [sic] in a twitter quote.

  38. neverjaunty says

    Illegal immigrants have a very hard time finding jobs in almost every other country in the world

    Of course they don't. Every country in the world has a market for labor that isn't protected by laws and which you can get away with exploiting.

    Punishing businesses that employ illegal labor is an important step, even though certain industries in the US rely on it; but you really won't end illegal immigration until staying in one's home country is a better alternative. Right now, for much of Central America, taking the risk of crossing the border is a much better alternative than not. Even getting picked up by ICE and held for deportation has to be better than living in fear that some Zeta thug will think your daughter is pretty.