Why Tuesday’s exchange between Jorge Ramos and Donald Trump was an act of serendipity that needs to happen more often in American democracy.
When you heard the news late-Tuesday night that Donald Trump threw out veteran Univision reporter Jorge Ramos, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. If anything, it should have been obvious!
OF COURSE, Ramos would grill Trump on his immigration plan and OF COURSE, Trump would feel he was being unruly for asking difficult questions and would kick him out of the press conference. It’s what happens when unstoppable forces meet immovable objects.
From his strange harassment of Fox’s Megyn Kelly on Twitter to the most recent incident with Ramos, GOP primary front-runner Donald Trump hasn’t handled the press well. Yet Trump would be the first to tell you he has an excellent relationship with the media. Then again, he would also tell you his Trump Tower – in which he also plasters the letters “TRUMP” on the side of the building – isn’t an abomination against the otherwise majestic Chicago skyline.
In other words, Trump can tell you a lot of things, but that doesn’t make it true. Which takes us to Trump’s immigration plan.
We recently talked about Trump’s immigration plan. It’s a plan full on faulty reasoning and half-promises. He LOVES bringing it up in stump speeches to individuals that have an imperfect idea of US immigration. Yet surprisingly – or actually not surprising at all – Trump doesn’t like to have back-and-forth discussion over it. In many ways, Trump treats his immigration platform similar to how McDonald’s treats their Chicken McNuggets. While they would rather not tell you specifically what goes into them, at the same time they won’t shut-up about how you can get 20 of them for $5.00.
For those that don’t know, Jorge Ramos – while not that well known in the states – is a very popular and respected journalist among the Hispanic community, at times being called the “Spanish Language Walter Cronkite!”
Yet at the same time, Ramos understands where his bread is buttered.
Ramos knows that the immigration issue “plays well” with the Hispanic community, he’s even admitted to that fact multiple times over the years. Ramos practices what many call “service journalism”; an idea that has journalism act in service to a particular group or community, even when it means setting aside objectivity to do so. In the case of Ramos, when it comes to immigration, he becomes this amalgamation of half crusader for immigrant rights and half self-promoter. It’s an interesting dichotomy to say the least.
Now some of you may be thinking, “since Ramos is servicing a specific minority community (Hispanics) that are traditionally ignored by other media outlets, what’s the harm? If anything, he’s doing a great service!” While you would be correct in this assumption, you should also remember, Fox News generally follows the same idea of service journalism when talking to their audience, traditionally white conservatives. To put it bluntly, what Jorge Ramos does at Univision is similar to what pundits do at Fox News, catering specific news coverage to appease their audience.
Our assumption; you’re less ok with Fox News using a similar tactic for their purposes.
Remember, the knife cuts both ways.
Tuesday wasn’t Ramos’ first rodeo. He has a reputation of confronting politicians with tough questions on immigration. More often than not, with some hostility. The difference here, Trump hasn’t traditionally been pressed to give honest answers to his weak immigration platform. For all the great things objective journalism creates, what it doesn’t do is outright call bullshit to weak legislation or faulty political reasoning. After all, you have to give all ideas the same amount of credence.
Even the stupid ones.
Trump didn’t take Ramos’ barking out questions about immigration too well. Ramos knew full well, that this tactic was the only way Trump would answer questions regarding his immigration platform that weren’t on his terms. What Ramos didn’t predict – or we’re guessing anyway that he didn’t – is that Trump would actually kick him out of the news conference.
When Ramos was eventually allowed back in, the exchange the two had was one of the first actual discussions that Trump had with another reporter over his immigration plan.
Ramos immediately pointed at the holes in Trump’s immigration platform. From the ridiculous plan of getting Mexico to pay for a 1,900-mile fence across the Mexican/US border to his almost racist assumptions about Latino immigrants that currently live in the US. Due to Trump already making the mistake of kicking out the “Spanish Language Walter Cronkite”, he had to sit there and take those tough questions.
Unsurprisingly, the five minute back-and-forth between Trump and Ramos just asserted what we already knew; Trump’s immigration plan is built on a foundation of half-truths and unrealistic expectations. Yet this exchange needed to happen, not necessarily for the voters who support Trump – because they’ll probably vote for him regardless of how many holes Ramos points out in his policies – but for it to become part of the political conversation.
Even though many news outlets will continue to point at the act of Trump kicking out Ramos than the substantive talk that happened after, the exchange that Trump and Ramos had was important never the less. During a presidential campaign a candidate’s views and plans as president should be taken through the ringer. Only through scrutiny can you see what a plan is actually made of and what it actually stands for. Sadly as more election seasons pass, the more it becomes about curated campaigns only taking interviews where the questions are already pre-screened by the candidate. Exchanges like the one between Trump and Ramos is becoming increasingly rare. Yet serendipitously on a Tuesday night, two aggrandizing forces clashed creating a fleeting moment of what American democracy should represent.
And politically, it was beautiful.
(Photo Credit: The Fuse YouTube Channel, Google Images)