The MRC's War on Jorge Ramos
The Media Research Center wants the Univision anchorman to lose his job for committing the offense of being critical of Donald Trump.
By Terry Krepel
The MRC has despised Ramos for years. In 2009, MRC director of media research Tim Graham dismissed him as an "angry amnesty advocate" and huffing that "Objectivity is not in his vocabulary." Graham cited as backup a report from the less-than-credible Center for Immigration Studies, a right-wing anti-immigration group with a history of false and unsupported claims and founded by John Tanton, a white nationalist who has fretted about the "educability" of Latinos.
The MRC has a serious problem with Ramos for purportedly going beyond his role as a news anchor, even though that never seems to bother the MRC when Fox News anchors do it.
Jorge Bonilla -- a conservative activist who's the current face, near as we can tell, of MRC Latino -- started his January 2015 attack on Ramos rather boldly:
The central premise of a recent New York Times article is simple enough: If only Republicans were to submit to Univision (and, by extension, anchor Jorge Ramos) on immigration, then they may receive more favorable coverage that does not depict them to the network’s Hispanic viewership as hateful, racist, anti-immigrant monsters, and then they may have a chance to garner more of the Hispanic vote, with the blessing of the community’s self-appointed gatekeeper.
Bonilla, however, couldn't be bothered to actually quote from the Times article he's attacking, so apparently he wants us to take his word for it. Thus, unambitious NewsBusters readers will miss the part of the Times article pointing that Ramos, in addition to being critical of Republicans' anti-immigration stance, has called out President Obama for "breaking his 2008 campaign promise made directly to Mr. Ramos that he would propose an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system in his first year in office, and for deporting two million people since."
Bonilla quickly ratcheted up the rhetoric, accusing the Times (and, by extension, Ramos) of figuratively (or maybe literally) wanting to kill interview subjects:
The first thing that comes to mind with the Times’ take on the subject is a sense of (with apologies to Yogi Berra) déja vu all over again. What we are witnessing here is the return of the nasty plata o plomo tactics (literally "silver or lead" - the Spanish phrase that means you either cooperate by giving a bribe, or you get a bullet) previously deployed during Univision’s 2011 war on Senator Marco Rubio.
Apparently, holding Republicans accountable on immigration is much worse than, say, suggesting that those doing so are engaging in violent acts, figuratively or otherwise.
In case it wasn't clear, Bonilla and the MRC had Ramos in their (figurative) crosshairs for the sin of not spouting conservative rhetoric on immigration. Bonilla in particular seems a bit obsessed with the guy, penning numerous posts on Ramos.
Bonilla took another shot at Ramos about a month later, sneering that Ramos "is fond of reading his own press" and that conservative attacks on him are "legitimate."
Bonilla then complained that "No journalist that encourages activism, abandons neutrality, and routinely spits out partisan talking points should expect to go unchallenged." If Bonilla is really serious about challenging biased journalists, he doesn't even have to leave the MRC headquarters to do so -- he can read the bias at CNSNews.com.
Bonilla asserted that Ramos "had the audacity to complain that conservatives want to SILENCE him as a result of his biased coverage." But it's now abundantly clear the MRC wants to do exactly that by agitating for him to be fired.
Double standard on interrupting politicians
Ramos interrupting Donald Trump at an an August 2015 press conference, Bozell predictably took a dim view of it:
Jorge Ramos is a pro-amnesty activist masquerading as a journalist. The stunt he pulled at Donald Trump’s press conference reflects poorly on Univision -- again. Ramos is not a 'reporter' nor does he therefore have the 'right to ask questions.' Ramos embarrassed both himself and his profession by becoming the story with his unseemly antics. Those who expect a fair and honest debate on the policy issues impacting the U.S. Latino community should ignore Jorge Ramos.
Bozell was joined by MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Mendez, who claimed that "Jorge Ramos clearly crossed the line between reporting and editorializing" and is "operating outside the confines of honest journalism."
It also shouldn't be a surprise, then, that Bozell didn't feel the same when the interrupter is a conservative and the person being interrupted is a Democratic president.
A search through the MRC archives found no indication that Bozell said anything about a 2012 incident in which conservative Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro crossed the line between reporting and editorializing by heckling President Obama during a news conference -- no declaration that Munro was an activist masquerading as a journalist, or that Munro embarrassed himself and his profession, or that Munro is operating outside the confines of honest journalism, or that conservatives who expect fair and honest journalism should ignore Munro.
Meanwhile, the rest of the MRC was more than happy to cheer Munro's stunt:
Clay Waters mocked the New York Times for supposedly being "aghast at the audacity of a reporter from a conservative news site interrupting President Obama's Rose Garden speech."
Noel Sheppard tried to temper things by baselessly claiming that "we are by no means condoning Munro's behavior" (even though we could find no criticism whatsoever of Munro by anyone at the MRC), but then tried to justify that same behavior: "As the Daily Caller is a conservative website, isn't it far more likely Munro doesn't agree with the new immigration policy the current White House resident was presenting that just so happens to be an edict without any approval from Congress?"
Tom Blumer huffed that Munro's stunt was hardly "the first time any reporter has ever shouted a question at a U.S. president out of turn," then touted Munro's defense "as well as sturdy defenses from Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson and Publisher Neil Patel." He concluded by saying of Munro's critics: "What a bunch of flaming, presidential boot-licking hypocrisy."
Jack Coleman offered his own defense of Munro: "Henceforth the Obama administration might want to signal when questions will be allowed from the media and when reporters will be expected to emulate statuary." We suspect Coleman won't be asking Trump to make that same signal.
Criticism of Trump kickstarts war on Ramos
The current wave of Ramos-hate at the MRC started when Ramos wrote an op-ed for a Mexican newspaper in July pointing out that Donald Trump "has put hatred and divisiveness up front in his presidential campaign" and expressed hope that "civility and rationality will prevail in America once again," which won't happen if Trump is elected president. Bonilla didn't dispute or rebut anything Ramos wrote -- perhaps because it's true -- but Bonilla declared that Ramos was "tacitly endorsing Hillary Clinton for President" (even though he offers no evidence Ramos even mentioned Clinton in his column) and ranting that "one can also look back and say that Ramos was always going to be in the tank for Clinton -- especially after vanishing while the FBI and the DOJ did their e-mail two-step."
In an Aug. 11 post, Bonilla took offense at another column Ramos wrote criticizing Trump, whining that "no other national network news anchor has a weekly multinational opinion column. Likewise, no other broadcast network news anchor in recent memory has taken such an open stance in a presidential election before."
Bonilla then suddenly tried to pretend to be a reasonable critic: "None of this should be construed so as to dismiss any legitimate concerns millions of Americans (including this author) may have about a potential Trump presidency. The problem is that Ramos appropriates those concerns for the purpose of promoting partisanship via the back door." First, again, the MRC has no problem with "partisanship via the back door" when it's done by Fox News anchors. Second, the MRC has stopped criticizing those who criticize Trump when he clinched the GOP nomination -- gotta be on the GOP bandwagon, after all -- so it's officially MRC policy that no criticism of Trump is "reasonable," and it's silly for Bonilla to pretend that any such distinction exists.
On Aug. 25, Bonilla again pretended to be reasonable after more criticism of Trump by Ramos:
In Ramos' hand, legitimate concern over the possible perils of a Trump presidency (shared by this author, in fact) becomes a shield with which to wage partisan battle. Outrage over both Trump's harsh statements on immigration and Ramos' stage-crafted expulsion from Trump's Iowa press conference created a permission structure for Ramos to more overtly take to the soapbox- with little or no consequence.
Bonilla goes on to claim: "When contrasting Jorge Ramos' very public statements with his unwillingness to engage the Democratic candidate's own glaring failings, it is clear that there is a desire to tilt the scales in favor of one candidate over the other. " That's rather laughable given that his employer operates a "news" outlet that's doing the exact same thing -- only this time it's Trump's glaring failings that are being censored by CNSNews.com.
Bonilla is as likely to complain about CNS' blatant bias at his MRC forum as he is to be permitted by the MRC to go into detail on his claimed reservations about a Trump presidency.
But when Ramos declared that "neutrality is not an option" regarding Trump and that journalists will be judged by how they covered him, the MRC pushed the button on something they've probably had waiting in the wings for an appropriate occasion to implement: a campaign to get Ramos fired. MRC chief Brent Bozell ranted:
By deciding to openly take sides and urging all journalists to be as unethical as he is in his coverage of this year’s U.S. presidential election, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos has rendered himself incapable of serving as a credible, impartial news anchor for Univision’s millions of viewers. At the very least, Univision should remove Ramos from the network’s national evening news anchor chair, from now through Election Day. If Jorge Ramos has any sense left of professional integrity, he should tender his resignation and pursue his new passion, as an anti-Trump, pro-Clinton political activist.
The irony that Bozell's CNS is at least as unbalanced as he claims Ramos is went unremarked upon.
The irony is that in his TV appearances, Bozell rarely appears with a liberal counterpart; he's almost always solo and almost always appearing in the friendly confines of Fox News or Fox Business, where he knows he will get no challenging questions and his rant of the day will never be interrupted. He can't handle a debate with a random liberal; what makes him think he can take on Ramos?
After Ramos failed to immediately respond, Bozell, as he is wont to do, threw a tantrum: "So I challenge Mr. Ramos to debate me. Is he a reporter or a political hack? Is he practicing journalism, or political advocacy? A man confident in his position would have no problem participating in a debate, yet this man who questions everyone is nowhere to be found when questioned himself."
It's pretty clear which one -- reporter or political hack -- Bozell is.
Meanwhile, the MRC bought the domain RamosMustGo.com, where its anti-Ramos campaign is regurgitated. It's promoted on other MRC websites with the promo boxes above, one of which ludicrously claims that Bozell is engaging in "a battle for truth" with Ramos.
And Bonilla returned to rant again in an Aug. 31 post, taking offense at an interview Ramos did with CNN's Anderson Cooper, about which Bonilla complained that "there was no acknowledgement of the MRC's call for Ramos to step down from Univision's anchor chair due to his extreme biases, nor any acknowledgement of MRC President Brent Bozell's challenge to debate Ramos." Bonilla huffed:
If Ramos insists on peddling these factual inaccuracies in order to bolster his narrative, promote his ongoing jihad against Donald Trump, and push out the edges of objective journalistic coverage, then he should also expect the increased scrutiny that comes with it.
Again, don't expect Bonilla to apply those same standards to the outlets his publisher operates.
List of demands
MRC Latino officially announced its fire-Ramos campaign in a Sept. 14 post, gathering a handful of Hispanic conservatives to sign off on a demand for "corrective action" at Univision. The statement deliberately avoids the real issue at hand -- Donald Trump -- by declaring that its war on Ramos "has nothing to do with the relative merits of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate." The statement's signers then pretend to be the guardians of journalistic objectivity:
Elections are matters of utmost public importance. Journalists have a responsibility to report on them with as much impartiality, independence and fairness as they can possibly muster. At the end of the day, it is up to an honestly informed electorate to make their own decisions about the relative merits of the candidates and who they wish to vote for.
As far as we know, none of these signatories have ever complained about the lack of "impartiality, independence and fairness" and "accurate, comprehensive and unaligned reporting" on Fox News, let alone demand that any Fox News anchor be fired for perpetrating same.
The statement demands that Univision "remove Jorge Ramos, effective immediately, from his duties as the network's nightly news anchor from now through Election Day, November 8, 2016," but it's unlikely that even if Univision caved and complied, the signatories would be satisfied. Once they get a taste of blood, they would almost certainly be screaming that any "temporary" removal of Ramos be made permanent.
So far, Ramos has largely ignored the MRC's war on him. That's likely to make the MRC even angrier at him than it already is.
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UPDATE 10/2/2016: MRC Latino hates Ramos so much, it appears, that it's actaully defending the honor of white people after Ramos criticized Trump again. MRC Latino's Edgard Portela did exactly that in a Sept. 24 post:
There’s a new aspect of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that Univision anchor Jorge Ramos finds deplorable.
Has Portela been hanging out a bit too much on white-nationalist websites lately? Because his post sure reads that way -- as if the only worthwhile contributions to the country came from European (and, more specifically, Anglo-Saxon, or northern European) immigrants. Anglo-Saxon identity is a key part of white nationalism, which Trump's campaign has brought to the forefront and has been implicitly (and occasionally explicitly) playing to.
How bizarre is it that a Latino group is defending white people? It's been that kind of election.