Donald Trump might not have paid for that microphone, but he sure as hell owned it.
At a press conference in Iowa on Tuesday, Trump had barely reached the podium before Jorge Ramos, superstar anchor for Spanish-language network Univision, began interrogating him about his immigration platform. Trump, who already had called on a different journalist for the first question, told Ramos to be quiet and wait his turn. Ramos refused: “I have the right to ask a question,” he declared. At a nod from The Donald, security escorted Ramos from the room.
Jorge Ramos may be the award-winning celebrity anchor of Univision’s premier news broadcast, but “the Walter Cronkite of Hispanic News” long ago revealed himself to be less a journalist than another perpetually indignant immigration activist. His devolution into outright heckler was only a matter of time.
It would be difficult to overstate Ramos’s immigration radicalism. When Central American children were pouring over the border last summer, Ramos announced as a solution, “First, we treat children like children, as if they were our own.” When, in their 2012 interview, Newt Gingrich told Ramos, “I’m not going to let you define what ‘immigration reform’ is,” Ramos replied, “It’s very simple: to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants.” And when, last November, President Obama lawlessly granted amnesty to some 5 million of those immigrants, Ramos touted the measure as “a triumph for the Latino community.”
Ramos’s career has been largely the playing out on national television of his own immigration monomania.
Mingled with Ramos’s open contempt for the rule of law (he rejects any effort to secure the border as “right-wing”) is the self-righteousness of the professional partisan. “Don’t be neutral,” Ramos advised University of Southern California graduates in May. “Neutrality is for referees in a football game.” He encouraged them to be “fighters,” something he himself has taken to heart: “The Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci used to say that for her, an interview was like a war,” he told Politico’s Dylan Byers. “I get the sense that we’ve forgotten that here in the United States.” Thus, to the Los Angeles Times: “My only weapon is the question.”
So much fatuous self-congratulation would be easier to endure were it not complemented by so much disingenuousness. For example, to Time’s Michael Scherer last November: “I am a registered Independent. I would never say [for] whom I vote. I would never pressure anyone to vote for one party or another. That would be way too much.” That level of fraud takes cojones.Proclaiming his evenhandedness, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is part of Ramos’s shtick, one that he shares with many other unofficial activists: Ramos agitates transparently on behalf of his pet cause, then, when called on it, claims that he is “just a journalist” (“My only weapon . . .” and such whimpers). It’s a tactic tirelessly employed by Jon Stewart, who was, recall, “just a comedian.”
In fact, Ramos — who sums up his philosophy as “pro-Latino” — is just another identity-politics hack, his daily crusade a sort of made-for-television La Raza protest. The problem is his enormous pulpit. Ramos’s Univision broadcast reaches 2 million people nightly, and Univision itself can claim 70 percent of Spanish-language primetime TV-watchers in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Because of this, he is viewed as a gatekeeper — and one of increasing importance as “the Hispanic vote” becomes more important. Matthew Dowd, a campaign adviser to George W. Bush, told the New York Times in January that Ramos would be a crucial figure for Republicans in 2016: “You don’t want to lose Jorge Ramos.” Or as Representative Xavier Becerra, a Los Angeles Democrat, told the Los Angeles Times in 2013: “Spanish-language news has almost the same pull as the priest in the pulpit. And Jorge Ramos is the pope.”
Perhaps. But his is a blessing no Republican should seek.
— Ian Tuttle is a National Review Institute Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism.