Jorge Ramos, a top anchor at Spanish-language Univision, criticized the channel Saturday in his weekly column for the softball interview with Donald Trump earlier this month.
Ramos noted that the Mar-a-Lago conversation with the indicted former president “called into question the independence of our news department and created discomfort and uncertainty within the newsroom.”
“It is our job as journalists to question those in power. That’s what reporters do,” he wrote on his website, describing the times he had confronted Trump about his policies and comments.
“We cannot normalize behavior that threatens democracy and the Hispanic community, or offer Trump an open mic to broadcast his falsehoods and conspiracy theories. We must question and fact-check everything he says and does,” he wrote.
“That is why it is very dangerous not to confront Trump. And therefore it is our moral obligation to confront him every time there is a journalistic opportunity to do so. But I understand that not everyone agrees, and I am opening the debate here.”
Univision defended its interview – which led to a boycott call from actor and comedian John Leguizamo – saying its “news strategy is one that is impartial and objective.”
“We serve our audiences by welcoming competing issues, ideas, candidates and parties,” CEO Wade Davis wrote in a memo to employees last week.
Ramos wrote that he was not suggesting that journalists become partisans, noting that he also questioned Barack Obama and Joe Biden about their own policies.
“Of course we should not take sides, and we are obliged to broadcast the messages of all candidates in the 2024 presidential elections. But at the same time, we cannot give up our responsibility to ask hard and precise questions,” he wrote.
“Democracy is something that must be defended every day. And for journalists, the way to do that is to ask questions. Even if it hurts. Even if it makes someone uncomfortable. Silence almost never makes for good journalism.”
He signed off by suggesting that he would face no consequences if he criticized his employer:
“For 39 years, Univision has allowed me to report – and even write columns like this – with absolute independence and freedom, and I will always be deeply grateful. That’s why I left Mexico and came to the United States.”
I believe we must question and confront Trump for democracy, for immigrant rights and, simply, for good journalism.
Due to the strong criticism after Univision aired an interview with Donald Trump on November 9 – which questioned the independence of our news department and caused discomfort and uncertainty within the newsroom – it is necessary to take a step back from what it was broadcast. that day and, as always, explain my position.
Let’s start with the most basic. Trump would never have given me an interview. On August 25, 2015, the then-presidential candidate ordered a bodyguard to remove me from a press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, after I tried to ask him some questions. “Go back to Univision!” he told me. I had gone to Iowa to ask him about his statements that Mexican immigrants were “rapists,” criminals and drug traffickers.
What few people know is that after that incident, Trump allowed me to return to the press conference and ask him questions for about ten minutes. I confronted him about his plans to build a wall on the border with Mexico and deport millions of undocumented people. I said that many Hispanics despised him for his anti-immigration rhetoric and that no matter what he expected, he would not win the Latino vote. And he didn’t, not in 2016 and not in 2020.
Our job as journalists is to question those in power. That’s what journalists do. That’s what I did in Iowa and what I’ve done with Trump since he announced his first presidential campaign.
In June 2021, I asked Trump at a public event in Texas if he would finally admit that he had lost the presidential election the year before. “We won the election,” he answered falsely. That’s what became known as ‘The Big Lie’. The official results of the November 3, 2020 election show that Trump lost both the electoral vote and the popular vote. In addition, he lost all legal challenges he filed to delay or block the legitimate election of Joe Biden as president.
Trump has been a sore loser.
Trump today faces 91 charges for various alleged crimes, including conspiring against the democratic system. In one recording, he is heard asking the Georgian foreign minister for 11,780 votes to overturn the outcome of the vote. And after his speech on January 6, 2021, when he told his followers that “if you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country anymore,” a violent insurrection took place at the U.S. Capitol.
That’s not all. Trump separated thousands of children from their families at the border, made offensive comments about immigrants, attacked the concept of birthright rights for children of undocumented immigrants, filed a lawsuit against the company where I work in 2015, and challenged people’s capabilities — like Judge – in doubt. Gonzalo Curiel – for the simple fact that he is Spanish.
We cannot normalize behavior that threatens democracy and the Hispanic community, or offer Trump an open mic to broadcast his falsehoods and conspiracy theories. We need to question and fact check everything he says and does.
That is why it is very dangerous not to confront Trump. And therefore it is our moral obligation to confront him every time there is a journalistic opportunity to do so. But I understand that not everyone agrees, and I’m opening the debate here.
I am convinced that journalists have two major responsibilities. One of these is reporting reality as it is, and not as we would like it to be. And the other is to demand accountability from those in power and challenge them.
Of course, we are not allowed to take sides, and we are obliged to broadcast the messages of all candidates in the 2024 presidential election. But at the same time, we cannot give up our responsibility to ask hard and precise questions. That’s what journalism is for. These journalistic principles apply to everyone.
For example, I recently wrote a column criticizing Joe Biden for breaking his promise not to build three feet of new wall on the southern border during his presidency. When Barack Obama was president, I also confronted him at a town hall meeting about not keeping a campaign promise. “A promise is a promise,” I told him. He broke a promise to enact immigration reform — which would have legalized millions of undocumented immigrants — during his first year in office, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. So it goes both ways.
Democracy is something that must be defended every day. And for journalists, the way to do that is to ask questions. Even if it hurts. Even if it makes someone uncomfortable. Silence almost never makes for good journalism.
Univision has allowed me to report – and even write columns like this one – with absolute independence and freedom for 39 years, and for that I will always be deeply grateful. That’s why I left Mexico and came to the United States.
This is what I believe, and I will continue to do so as a free journalist wherever I am.