Univision anchor Jorge Ramos seems to be riding a wave of popularity recently. In many circles, he has been deemed the “face” and “spokesperson” for the Hispanic community. Yet, many take issue with that statement, particularly those who tend to disagree with his views.
A few years ago, being a journalist was about reporting the news without expressing your own opinions or becoming the news. That has changed within the past few decades. More and more journalists tend to write an opinion piece or add their own analysis to a story they are reporting on.
When Jorge Ramos began his career in the United States, that’s exactly how it was. A local reporter for Los Angeles’ Univision (then the Spanish International Network) affiliate KMEX, his job was to report on the news of the day, on and off the studio. He left his native country of Mexico because he felt freedom of the press was restricted there.
With many years and a lot of hard work, Mr. Ramos has become one of the most respected journalists in the United States. According to Democracia USA’s poll on Hispanic leaders in America, “the clear majority of Hispanic voters consider Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos the most influential and trustworthy Hispanic leader.”
The problem? Mr. Ramos has become a forceful and polarizing figure. Posing uncomfortable questions is not the issue but having a forceful nature where he pushes his own “I’m right, you’re wrong” agenda onto others without regard for their own opinions, is not beneficial. Having such a person represent the Hispanic community does more harm than good and it does not serve the Hispanic community well.
In a New York Times article last January, “Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican Party, suggested that because Mr. Ramos had become such an activist on immigration policy, ‘he’s now taken with a grain of salt.’ “
In that same article he said, “There’s no question that he’s important and that he has a lot of influence, but I think that people now have sort of recognized that he’s more of an advocate than a journalist.”
While some pundits may be dismissive of Mr. Spicer, claiming his characterization is merely political, there’s a lot of truth to it. Many important debates and events are yet to come from both parties (after all, 2016 isn’t even here yet) and if a reporter is deemed as a polarizing or combative person that will bring up the same issue over and over again, slamming the interviewee because he or she did not respond appropriately, then said reporter risks alienating the very same people they are aiming to reach.
Such was the case this afternoon at Donald Trump’s press conference. While Mr. Trump was calling on another reporter to ask a question, the Univision anchor interrupted. At one point, he even claimed it was his “right” to ask Mr. Trump a question. Jorge Ramos was rude and out of line here. He callously interrupted another reporter that was called upon to ask Mr. Trump a question. He did so without any regard or respect for his fellow colleagues.
That in itself shows how “out of touch” Mr. Ramos’ popularity has made him. Perhaps his Time’s Most Influential People title, awarded earlier this year, has gotten to his head. Apparently Mr. Ramos felt he was entitled to speak and ask his question whenever he wanted, ignoring other journalists in the field. Although, maybe, this should come as no surprise.
During Time’s 100 Gala in April, when Jorge Ramos accepted his award, he adamantly called for the president of Mexico to resign, amid an overblown scandal that was more fiction than fact. The journalist that he claims was fired as a result of the scandal, Carmen Aristegui, was fired for abusing her own position as a “powerful journalist” in Mexico.
Ironically, Ramos may face that same demise. With outbursts like the one at the Trump press conference, the Univision anchor runs the risk of spattering his credibility.
In the long run, Jorge Ramos may be in danger of losing mainstream support, not only as a reporter but as a representative of the leading Spanish language television network. He is well respected today but he cannot risk jeopardizing the Univision network and in turn, the millions of Hispanics in the United States and around the world that trust him.