After a testy encounter with Donald Trump at a press conference last week, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos has found himself on the defensive, trying to explain how his self-proclaimed position as an advocate for immigration reform does not undercut his role as a journalist.
“In the aftermath of this incident, I was accused of being an activist,” Ramos wrote in an online post Wednesday. “That’s not the case — I’m simply a journalist who asks questions. And journalists have an obligation to take a stand when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorships and human rights violations.”
Ramos is one of the most trusted news source among American Latinos, and when he appeared on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” on Wednesday, he said he was simply doing his job when he confronted Trump.
“I think what Donald Trump is doing is very dangerous. He’s proposing the largest mass deportation in recent history,” Ramos said to O’Reilly in what quickly devolved into an on-air shouting match. “Who’s going to challenge him? That’s our job as reporters.”
“How can you possibly cover illegal immigration when you’re an activist .… You should excuse yourself from it … or become like me, a commentator,” O’Reilly said.
Ramos replied, “I don’t think you are the right person to lecture me on advocacy in journalism.”
Ramos has maintained his pro-immigrant stance for years: “Our position is clearly pro-Latino or pro-immigrant,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. “We are simply being the voice of those who don’t have a voice.”
Last week, when challenging Ramos to appear on his show, O’Reilly accused Ramos of editorializing and becoming “an advocate for people who enter the U.S.A. illegally.”
“What’s the difference between Jorge Ramos on immigration and Black Lives Matter on race?” the host said.
O’Reilly was the latest to join the chorus of critics who say Ramos should not represent himself as a journalist.
Fox News analyst Howard Kurtz, who covers the media, wrote that Ramos “crossed the line” in confronting Trump, saying he “looked like an activist disrupting an event.”
“For pretending he was bullied and pretending he was thrown out of the room? He’s making himself the story,” said cohost Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“Clearly he wanted to bait Donald Trump and he succeeded,” replied TheBlaze’s Amy Holmes.
Ramos’ adversarial position isn’t a novel one when it comes to Spanish-language media. In fact, many have said, it’s what audiences have come to expect.
When Univision executives cut ties with Trump over his comments about Mexican immigrants, they said they were acting “out of a responsibility to speak up for the community we serve.”
“We see firsthand the work ethic, love for family, strong religious values and the important role Mexican immigrants … have in building the future of our country,” the network said.
Fernand Amandi, a Democratic pollster in Florida, said in July that Univision, like many Spanish-language media companies, “openly acknowledge their bias in acting in the interest of Hispanic America.”
Juan Varela, an executive at ImpreMedia, which publishes many of the nation’s top Spanish-language newspapers, including Los Angeles’ La Opinion, said media outlets serving Latinos have “more responsibility than other journalists.”
“We are a part of this community and we have a responsibility to support our people and to help to integrate them,” Varela told The Times earlier this year.
Times staff writer Kate Linthicum contributed to this report.
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