Congress expert Norman Ornstein on what the debate over the debt limit says about dysfunction in Congress, and his ideas for how to fix it.
Guest Host: Indira Lakshmanan
After years of reading the headlines on the nightly news, Jorge Ramos became a headline last summer when he challenged Donald Trump over his plan to deport illegal migrants — and got thrown out of a press conference. It was the first time many Americans heard of Ramos, but Latino audiences have known him for decades. Ramos anchors Univision’s nightly news with a viewership that rivals — and often beats — the English-language competition. Probably the most influential Latino journalist in the United States, he’s an outspoken critic of U.S. immigration policy and works on a project to get out the Latino vote. In a new book, he says reporters aren’t doing their duty if they don’t take a stand.
- Jorge Ramos Anchor of Noticiero Univision, Al Punto and Fusion's America; author of "Take A Stand: Lessons From Rebels"
Read An Excerpt
From TAKE A STAND: Lessons From Rebels by Jorge Ramos, published by arrangement with Celebra, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Jorge Ramos.
MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANThanks for joining us. I'm Indira Lakshmanan sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's on a book tour. At age 57, Jorge Ramos has anchored the nightly news for 30 years at Univision, the U.S. TV network known in Spanish as Univision, that has lead primetime ratings in 2013 and 2014 beating out all the English language competition. Interviewing every U.S. president since the elder George Bush, Ramos has been compared to Walter Cronkite and is the most recognized face of Spanish language news in the United States.
MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANNow, the wild and wooly 2016 presidential race has raised his profile with a wider audience. Last summer, he was physically forced out of a Donald Trump press conference when the candidate refused to answer his questions on immigration. As a moderator of a decent Democratic debate, he pushed both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to pledge they'd halt deportations of children who entered this country illegally.
MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANSome commentators say he has acted in this campaign like a grandstanding activist, not a journalist. In his new book, "Take A Stand: Lessons From Rebels," he addressed that critique head on and argues that there are times when a journalist must be an advocate. He joins me live now from Univision studio in Miami, Florida. Jorge Ramos, welcome.
MR. JORGE RAMOSGreat to be here.
LAKSHMANANAnd I know that you, many of our listeners will be eager to turn the tables on Jorge Ramos and ask your own questions about the role of journalism in the campaign and the future of Latinos in America. Listeners can call us anytime this hour at 1-800-433-8850 or send us an email to email@example.com. You can also send us a message on Facebook or tweet us, @drshow. So Jorge Ramos, you have criticized the English language political media for not asking tough enough questions and not challenging candidates' answers.
LAKSHMANANLet's listen to a clip of you pushing back at Hillary Clinton when you felt she dodged your question about her emails in a recent Democratic debate last week.
HILLARY CLINTONI am not concerned about it. I am not worried about it and no Democrat or American should be either.
RAMOSThe questions were who gave you permission to operate. Was it President Obama?
CLINTONThere was no permission to be asked. It had been done by my predecessors. It was permitted. I didn't have to ask anyone.
RAMOSIf you get indicted, would you drop out?
CLINTONOh, for goodness -- that is not gonna happen. I'm not even answering that question.
LAKSHMANANYou certainly put her on the defensive, but ultimately she refused to answer about the indictment. Did you get what you wanted?
RAMOSWell, my role and our role as journalists, simply to ask questions, that's all. And that's exactly what, I think, we have to do with both Republicans and with Democrats. And when we had the opportunity to do that with Bernie Sanders and with Hillary Clinton, that's exactly what I did. I think those were the questions that some people wanted to ask. I do understand that might not be popular questions to some of their followers, however that's exactly my role.
RAMOSAnd I also did the same thing with Republicans. I've been questioning Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, but, of course, now he's out of the race, and that's exactly what I did with Donald Trump. My role, it is not to be partisan. I think I have to be fiercely independent and I'm trying to be fiercely independent as a journalist. I cannot take sides. But when I have the opportunity to talk to those who are in power or those who are seeking power, that's precisely my role. That's the role of the journalist.
RAMOSI think the most important social responsibility that we have, as journalists, is to question those who are in power, to challenge those who are in power and prevent the abuse of those who are in power.
LAKSHMANANSo what did her answer reveal to you about Hillary Clinton?
RAMOSI don't think I should interpret what she meant. I just heard that she decided, at that moment, not to answer. And that's as far as I think I should go as a journalist. Why did I ask the question about the emails? I think it is important to understand that if there is an FBI investigation, there is the possibility of an indictment. That's precisely the reason why they're investigating. And if I'm not asking the question, believe me, Republicans are going to be asking that question in the general election.
RAMOSAnd, on the other hand, I also had the opportunity to talk to people from the Democratic party and they don't have a plan B. You know, the worst -- if their nominee is indicted, what are they gonna be doing? So I think I should apologize, honestly, for asking questions. That's my role. That's why they hire me. And I think I should be as tough with Democrats as I am with Republicans. If I hadn't done that, Indira, I think you would be criticizing me for -- you would be telling me, Mr. Ramos, you had the opportunity to talk to them last week.
RAMOSYou were tough on Donald Trump. Why were you not as tough with them? Why do you ask them about the weather or how...
LAKSHMANANYou certainly didn't ask them about the weather and let me ask you, you know, you managed to get both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to make pledges that they would not deport children who came into this country illegally or separate families. Were you at that point, though, crossing the line between journalism and activism?
RAMOSAbsolutely not. I think I'm, again, I'm just a journalist who asks questions and within the Hispanic community, and we have to understand that, and that's the audience that I serve every single day on my newscast on Univision. So the vast majority of Latinos in this country, they believe that we should put a stop to deportations until we can get immigration reform. But as you know, in Congress, there's no political will at this moment to do anything on immigration reform. So the reality is that this community has been hurting a lot with President Barack Obama because he has deported more immigrants than any other president in the history of the United States, 2.5 million immigrants.
RAMOSAnd the question for many voters and for many Latinos is what's going to happen if Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton become the next president of the United States? So are they gonna be the next deporter in chief, that's what everybody's asking within the Hispanic community. They are suffering. Many Hispanic families have been destroyed by the deportation policies of President Barack Obama so I think it was just a fair question. Are they going to continue the same practices of President Obama?
RAMOSAnd what I found really interesting is that both of them decided to put a distance with President Barack Obama and they promised -- and this is important because it might affect millions of families -- they promised not to deport children and they promised not to deport undocumented immigrants who don't have a criminal record. In other words, the majority of the 11 million in this country.
LAKSHMANANSo you have said that it is your role to be a voice for the Latino community in America and you held their feet to the fire on immigration. Last summer, you tried to do the same with Donald Trump. He had you removed from a news conference when you challenged him on his call to deport 11 million illegal immigrants and build a wall to, you know, that Mexico should pay for. Let's listen to the clip.
DONALD TRUMPOkay. Who's next? Yeah, please.
RAMOSMr. Trump, I have a (unintelligible)
TRUMPExcuse me. Sit down. You weren't called. Sit down.
RAMOSNo, I'm a (unintelligible) immigrants and...
TRUMPSit down. Go ahead.
RAMOS...I have the right to ask a question. (unintelligible)
TRUMPNo, you don't. You haven't been called.
RAMOSI have the right to ask a question.
TRUMPGo back to Univision.
LAKSHMANANHum. He said you didn't have the right and he dismissed you by saying, go back to Univision. It reminds me of Trump supporters at rallies telling his opponents, go back to Mexico or go back to Africa.
RAMOSExactly. As a reporter, I have the right to ask a question. And I waited for my turn and as a matter of fact, when I started presenting the premise of my question, he immediately understood that I was going to ask about something that he felt uncomfortable with and then he called his body guard. By the way, this is the first time in 30 years that I've been ejected from a press conference. The only time a body guard had prevented me from asking a question was Fidel Castro's body guard in 1991.
LAKSHMANANSo Communist Cuba is the only other time that you've been stopped from answering a -- from asking a question.
RAMOSOnly two body guards have stopped me from asking questions. One, Fidel Castro's body guard in 1991 and 2015, Donald Trump, his body guard. Now, he did say, go back to Univision. It's very clear. Those are code words. He's saying get out of here. Get out of this country. And what I find really dangerous is that when a presidential candidate attacks a group or an ethnic minorities like Latinos or Mexican immigrants, he is allowing his followers to do exactly the same. So this is really interesting what happened after.
RAMOSHe said go back to Univision. Just a few seconds later, just a few seconds later outside the press room, one of his followers told me, get out of my country. And then, I look around and I said, this is my country, too. I am also a U.S. citizen. And that's precisely the kind of hatred and the kind of divisiveness that Donald Trump is promoting and inciting.
LAKSHMANANWell, perhaps, unfortunately, the entire press corps did not get up and walk out after you, but a couple of reporters did stand up for you and in the end, you were allowed back in. But did he answer your questions and he agreed yet to an interview with you?
RAMOSNot yet. He said a few days ago that he was willing to talk to me. I hope that he is listening to this or, if not, someone who's listening, he can tell Mr. Trump, and ready to talk. I'm ready to talk to him whenever he wants, whatever he wants. I think -- I want to mention that MSNBC's Kasie Hunt and ABC's Tom Llamas, they were the reporters who told Donald Trump what you did is wrong, Mr. Trump. Allow Jorge Ramos to come back to the press conference.
RAMOSAnd, no, he didn't answer my question. How's he going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants? Just think about it. He's proposing the largest mass deportations in U.S. history. That means that he would have to deport 458,000 immigrants every single month, 15,000 every single day. That would require about 30 747s every single day. How's he going to do that? Can you imagine the human rights violations? That's precisely...
LAKSHMANAN30 jumbo jets flying out of every city in America to get rid of all the illegal immigrants.
RAMOSEvery single day.
LAKSHMANANEvery single day.
RAMOSEvery single day. That's exactly what he's proposing.
LAKSHMANANAnd he did not answer you on that, on how is it realistic.
LAKSHMANANAll right. We are gonna be right back with more from Jorge Ramos, the famous Univision presenter. Until then, you can take -- you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-433-8850 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
LAKSHMANANWelcome back. I'm Indira Lakshmanan sitting in for Diane Rehm. And joining me for the whole hour is Jorge Ramos, the Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of Univision's nightly newscast. He also hosts the network's weekly public affairs program, "Al Punto" and the show "America" on Fusion TV. Jorge Ramos, I want to go back to this question about the line between journalism and advocacy. You blame -- or I wonder, do you blame journalists for the ugly tone of this race? Has the mainstream media enabled Donald Trump's rise by reporting on his anti-Hispanic and anti-Muslim rhetoric, without outright condemning it?
RAMOSI think -- here's my question. Where were -- where was the press nine months ago when Donald Trump said that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists and drug traffickers? We know that is not true. All the studies suggest that immigrants are less likely to be criminals. And where was the press back then? I think many candidates now, way too late, as we can see, decided to attack Donald Trump on that. And I completely believe that what Donald Trump said about Mexican immigrants is wrong. What he said about Muslims is un-American. And what he said about women is completely unacceptable.
RAMOSAnd I think, again, our role as journalists is to confront those who are in power and, in this case, to confront those who want to seek the presidency. I think the press was too soft on Donald Trump right at the beginning. Of course, not everybody has done that. I've seen great interviews with Donald Trump. But the majority of the interviews that I've seen with Donald Trump are not confrontational when it comes to important issues, when it comes to racism, when it comes to discrimination, when it comes to offending other candidates and women in this country. And I think, again...
LAKSHMANANAll right. Well, let me ask you, too soft.
LAKSHMANANToo soft for what reason? Too soft because they didn't take him seriously? Too soft because they were being deferential to power and his celebrity? Or too soft because, have we, as American journalists, are we derelict in our duty to really take a stand, the title of your new book?
RAMOSExactly. Because I think, as a journalist, you have to take a stand when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public life, dictatorships and human rights. As a journalist, that's precisely our role. Of course, first we have to report and we have to be balanced. And we -- if five people die, we have to say five. If it's red, we have to say red. That's -- those -- that's the basics of journalism. Beyond that, the other level is to confront those who are in power. And when it comes to these issues, we have to take a stand.
RAMOSLook, the best examples that we have a great journalism in this country happened when journalists took a stand. I'm sure you saw "Spotlight," the movie.
LAKSHMANANI worked at The Boston Globe during "Spotlight."
RAMOSThere you go. And you -- and I'm completely convinced that the journalists from The Boston Globe took a stand against the Catholic church when they realized that there were many priests abusing, sexually, children. They took a stand. And that is one of the best moments of journalism in the United States. It happened Watergate. They forced the resignation of President Nixon. It happened with Edward R. Murrow against Senator McCarthy. It happened with Walter Cronkite during the Vietnam War.
RAMOSIn other words, the best examples, the great examples that we have of fantastic journalism, it's only when we take a stand on those six issues that I mentioned -- again, discrimination, racism, corruption, public life, dictatorships and human rights.
LAKSHMANANWell, let me ask you, because that list seem unassailable. And when it comes to corruptions, like Watergate, the example, or abuse, like the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church, I think those are pretty easy decisions for journalists to make. But in American political journalism, this ideal of objectivity is baked in. We're supposed to be fair and balanced. We're supposed to give both sides. We're supposed to keep our personal opinions out of it. Don't donate money to any causes. Do you think we've gone too far, abandoning a duty to truth telling by prioritizing neutrality?
RAMOSExactly. And sometimes, you cannot be neutral because -- let me give you an example. I had the opportunity to talk to Fidel Castro. He was a dictator. His broth Raul is a dictator. Should I treat a dictator the same way as I treat a victim of his dictatorship? Of course not. I had to confront Fidel Castro on the lack of democracy in Cuba. I had to confront him about human rights abuses. When I talked to the dissidents in Cuba -- and, by the way, I haven't been given a visa for 18 years to go back to Cuba because of that -- it is -- you cannot be neutral with a dictator.
RAMOSYou cannot be neutral with someone who is promoting -- who is attacking a specific group and a specific ethnic group, who says something that is absolutely wrong and false about undocumented immigrants. So, yes, it is our duty to take a stand. And we have to take a stand. And if we don't take a stand and if we pretend that neutrality is the only way to do journalism, then I don't think we are doing our job as journalists.
LAKSHMANANAll right. Well, so you say our job is to give voice to the voiceless, to call out people in positions that are wrong. But how can you remain nonpartisan if you practice that kind of advocacy journalism?
RAMOSExactly -- is exactly what I've been doing lately. I can be as critical with Donald Trump and with the Republicans as I've been with Democrats. Had I not done the same thing with Democrats, you could have criticized me, right now, I mean, you could have said, well, you're not doing the same with both parties. I'm doing exactly the same with both parties. I cannot be partisan. I cannot take sides. I cannot be a Democrat or a Republican. I'm a registered independent. And I have -- again, I have to be fiercely independent with that.
RAMOSBut if a candidate says that he wants to build a wall, if he's offending Mexican immigrants, if he's offending Muslim, do I have the right to ask that question? Of course I have the right. Not only the right, I have the duty to ask that question. And that's precisely what I think is wrong sometimes with journalism here. Just to have access or to maintain access to a candidate, many people -- some journalists believe that they have to ask some questions. Or they just don't want to confront the candidate. And it isn't working. It clearly isn't working.
LAKSHMANANAll right. We have a listener question here on Twitter. Luke asks, please ask Mr. Ramos to elaborate on what he calls the right of journalists to ask questions. There were others who Trump didn't call on last year. Didn't he cut the line?
RAMOSFirst of all, I didn't cut the line. Someone asked a question -- and we're talking about a press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, last August -- someone asked a question and then I stood up. Nobody said anything. I said I had a question on immigration. Donald Trump didn't say anything. And as soon as I starting telling him that it was impossible for him to change the Constitution and deny citizenship to the children born to undocumented parents or about the wall or about his plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, immediately he just didn't like that. So, yes, of course I have the right to ask a question. I'm a journalist.
RAMOSI left Mexico because of censorship. This country has given me the opportunities that my country of origin couldn't give me. So I do have the -- we do have the right to ask the questions. If we don't do that, who's going to ask the question? I -- whenever I have -- whenever I'm in a press conference or in an interview, I come with the attitude that if I don't ask that question, nobody else will. And also, that it is quite possible that I will never talk to that person again. That's the only way you can ask the difficult questions without fear of not doing your job.
LAKSHMANANAs you say, you grew up under an authoritarian system in Mexico. You've interviewed dictators all across Latin America. These experience have influenced not only your journalism but even your fashion choices. Tell me why you hate black shoes.
RAMOSOh, they're horrible. They hurt. I hate ties. I don't -- I don't wear a watch.
LAKSHMANANBut there's a psychological reason, I understand, that you don't like wearing black shoes, that dates back to the way that the PRI, you know, authoritarian leaders would dress themselves. Tell us.
RAMOSExactly. Think of the -- I grew up in a country, in Mexico, that for 71 years had the same political power -- political party in power, the PRI. And I thought I was going to die with them in power and they would dress perfectly. They would take care of their suits and their black shoes and their ties. And they represented to me authoritarian power. They represented to me censorship. They represented to me, unfortunately, the killing of hundreds of students in 1968. And that's precisely what I didn't want.
RAMOSSo when I was growing up in Mexico, I got a job, first in a radio station and then on a television station. And my third report on TV was censored completely because the news director thought that I wasn't -- that I was criticizing the president back then. So I did what I believe now was something really courageous. I quit from the televisions station. I sold my car. I got $2,000 and came to the United States as a student.
LAKSHMANANHmm. And in place of black shoes, I understood, you favored green Converse at the time. Perhaps not anymore, although you can show me your foot. There it is. Green Converse. I'm looking at it right now. All right, green Converse. All right. You have interviewed 60 heads of state from almost every country in the Americas. And you write that interviews with bad guys are the best. How do you prepare...
LAKSHMANAN...for an interview with a bad guy?
RAMOSWell, you prepare trying to find what's contradictory about them. If they made a statement and then a few days later or a few months later they say exactly the opposite. You try to find conflicts of interest. You know, I think, not only politicians but every human being has a breaking point, has something that we either want to hide, whether it's secret, or that we simply don't feel comfortable with. I don't think I can or should get into personal issues at all, unless those personal issues affect our public life.
RAMOSSo I do, you know, Barbara Walters, the great interviewer -- and I include her in the book -- she told me that she's doing that -- a lot of homework and that sometimes she needed to know more about the interviewee than the interviewee himself or herself. And I think that's a fantastic lesson. I write tens and tens of questions. And then, at the end, I end up with four or five. Because it's different. What you're doing is fantastic. You have a whole hour to do an interview. I only have sometimes four or five minutes to talk to one of these people on TV.
LAKSHMANANIn your favorite bad-guy interview, who won the day?
RAMOSWell, maybe Fidel Castro won because that interview -- if I can call it an interview -- lasted 53 seconds. I think I was able to confront former presidents of Mexico, Carlos Salinas de Gortari or the present President Enrique Pena Nieto. I -- it was always tough with Hugo Chavez.
LAKSHMANANThe Venezuelan leader, the late Venezuelan president.
RAMOSExactly. Exactly. So, at the end, you know, Oriana Fallaci, the Italian writer and journalist, she used to say that interviews were a war, in that sometimes the interviewee would win and sometimes the interviewer. I still believe that. When you are interviewing people with a lot of power, there's a war. And the only weapon that we have is our questions. And sometimes I've lost those interviews. Sometimes I end up realizing that the interviewee was smarter or that they answered all my questions. Or that I just didn't find that exact question or I couldn't phrase the question in the right way so they would tell me the truth. It is very frustrating, many, many times, in the -- in Latin America to do those interviews.
RAMOSHere in the United States, what I find fascinating is that even -- you can go to the White House, talk to the President of the United States, and then he might not like the interview or the questions. But you go home and nothing happens. You go to the supermarket, you walk, nothing happens. In Mexico, in the last decade, 80 journalists have been killed. So I just -- I can't thank this country enough for all the opportunities that I've gotten.
LAKSHMANANI'm Indira Lakshmanan and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." You know, you talk about how, in America, politicians will talk to you. In Latin America, it's sometimes been hard to win the day with an interview. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, you mentioned, I mean, one of the things about him and Fidel Castro is that both of them could talk the hind leg off a donkey, as we say in America.
LAKSHMANANAnd, you know, I once spent a day in the life with Hugo Chavez, spent a whole day with him. And the man did not stop talking for nine hours.
LAKSHMANANSo that is an advantage that a lot of Latin American leaders have, that they have the ability to hold court. But I'm thinking of an interview you did with someone you might call one of those bad guys, someone you vehemently disagree with, Joe Arpaio, an Arizona sheriff known for his anti-immigration activism. Let's listen to an exchange between the two of you.
RAMOSAs you know, to many Latinos, Sheriff Arpaio, you are the face of racism and discrimination. You know that.
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIOWell, I'm a pretty nice guy, having lived in Mexico City, South America, Texas and Arizona. I've never had any problems with a Latino. They love me. So just because...
RAMOSThey don't. They don't.
ARPAIO...I'm enforcing the state laws...
RAMOSThey don't, Sheriff Arpaio.
ARPAIO...they don't like me.
RAMOSThey don't -- you're making fun of these, but...
ARPAIONo, they did.
RAMOS...but they don't love you.
ARPAIONo, I'm not making fun. How do you know? There may be a small group of activists...
RAMOSI've seen many polls. I've spoken to many undocumented immigrants. And they are simply telling me this, that for them you are the worst of America.
ARPAIOWell, what polls?
RAMOSThe face of racism and discrimination.
ARPAIOBecause I've got my own polls.
LAKSHMANANThe worst of America. All right, that was a bit awkward and confrontational. But Sheriff Arpaio is a repeat customer of yours. He's done several interviews with you. Why?
RAMOSWell, I really appreciate that -- even though we don't agree on anything and that he knows that I'm going to be asking question that he doesn't like, that make him feel uncomfortable -- he's always been available for interviews. He does not apologize for the way he believes. He does not apologize for the way he treats immigrants and inmates. And even though the Justice Department clearly concluded that he used racial profiling for many, many years in Arizona, but I do appreciate that he has the courage to confront the press and to answer every single question. That's not the case with everyone. Again, I wish it would be the same case with Donald Trump.
LAKSHMANANYour new book is called "Sin Miedo: Lecciones De Rebeldes" or in English translation it's called "Take a Stand: Lessons From Rebels." You revisit interviews over the last 30 years with people who you call rebels and talk about the lessons you've learned from them. I was struck that you describe some of these rebels as being people who challenge and confront, put aside silence and fear, have clear principles, won't shut up, won't sit down, won't go away.
LAKSHMANANI read all that and I thought, well, Donald Trump won't sit down or shut up or go away. So isn't he a rebel by your definition? And what lessons have you learned from him?
RAMOSYeah, probably he's also a rebel. Yeah. There's no question. I mean he, the outsiders are the big news of this political campaign. There is no question that he's rebelling against the establishment and the Republican Party. There's no question. That doesn't mean that -- Fidel Castro was also a rebel and Hugo Chavez was also a rebel. So, in other words, it is not only that you are a rebel but how you use that. I -- for the book, for instance, my real heroes were Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court Justice, who, by the way, danced Salsa with me in the Supreme Court in a fascinating moment. And my real hero...
LAKSHMANANYou may be the only person who's danced Salsa in the Supreme Court.
RAMOSExactly. And then, by the way, in the book there's a picture of me with Sonia Sotomayor dancing Salsa. And also my heroes are the Dreamers who decided to challenge the system and then change President Obama's mind on his executive actions.
LAKSHMANANAll right. We are going to take a short break. Hold that thought. We will be right back with much more from Jorge Ramos and all of your questions and comments. Stay with us.
LAKSHMANANWelcome back. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, sitting in for Diane Rehm. And joining me for the whole hour is Jorge Ramos, the Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of Univision's nightly newscast. He's also the author of the new book "Take a Stand: Lessons from Rebels." And as many of you know, he has gained a lot of fame and notoriety to those who are not among his 1.9 million viewers every night in Spanish-language TV by his involvement in the campaign questioning, asking hard questions of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and many others.
LAKSHMANANJorge Ramos, I want to read you a couple of the comments that we've gotten from listeners. We have B Shawn, who is writing in our website. Is Jorge Ramos not concerned about the safety of journalists trying to report the news in other countries, as well as Trump rallies, if they are no longer viewed as reporting the news but as participating in it by pushing their own personal agenda?
LAKSHMANANAnd a somewhat related question, Doug in D.C. emails in to say Ramos claims to be the voice of Latinos, but what if a journalist said he was the voice of white people, wouldn't that be racist?
RAMOSI don't represent anyone. I just -- I'm just a journalist asking questions. And -- but I do take into consideration the audience that I'm serving every single day. I do have to take into consideration that there are 55 million Latinos right now, that there were only 15 when I first arrived in the United States and that there will be more than 125,000 in just a few decades. So I do have to take into consideration what they think.
RAMOSNow again, let me insist on this. I cannot take sides when it comes to political parties. That is my job. But our job is to ask really tough questions on the candidates because one of them is going to be the next president of the United States, and if we don't ask those questions, who's going to ask the questions? That's precisely our role in this democracy. And that's why if you ask -- again if you ask questions like that in Latin America, maybe you'll end up dead.
RAMOSThe beauty of the democracy in this country is you can do exactly the same, and nothing happens to you.
LAKSHMANANWell, let me ask you. If Trump were to win the Republican nomination, what techniques that you've learned from interviewing Latin American leaders, who are hostile to the press, what -- which of those tactics would you use on him?
RAMOSYou simply have to confront him with the facts because many of the things that Donald Trump has been saying are not true. So you get a soundbite of the things that he has said about -- you choose, Mexican immigrants, Muslims, women, U.S. heroes, and then you confront him with reality. That's what we do as journalists. Tim Russert was a genius on that. And if you can confront Donald Trump or whoever is going to be the next president of the United States with that, with -- you confront him with reality, that's our job, and then let -- have people decide.
LAKSHMANANWell, you raise this question of having to hold people's feet to the fire, asking tough questions, but Dan in Sacramento has emailed in, and he says Mr. Ramos is right, but journalists learned a very hard lesson from the Bush administration that if they asked hard, critical questions, they would be barred from access. Also, many big-name journalists in this country are millionaires, so journalism suffers from the same ills as politics, too much money. What do you say to that?
RAMOSWell, he was right. I -- as journalists in general, because some journalists were very critical of pressing George W. Bush and especially when he decided to attack Iraq, and there were no weapons of mass destruction. I think that many journalists didn't do their job. We didn't do our job correctly before the war in Iraq. We should have been much more critical. You know, I'm glad that he's asking about that because maybe we wouldn't be in war against Iraq right now had we don't our job correctly. Remember back then, the U.N. inspectors hadn't finished their work, and George W. Bush decided to attack Iraq.
RAMOSThousands of people have died. The consequences of that war, we're still feeling them. And...
LAKSHMANANBut he also makes the point, the listener, that those who did try to ask questions actually got their access cut off. I mean, isn't -- go ahead.
RAMOSI couldn't go back to the White House again, that's true. I had an interview with President George W. Bush, and as soon as I started questioning his role during the Iraq War, then I was forbidden. I just didn't have access to him, and I couldn't talk to him ever again. It doesn't matter because our role is precisely to do that. So if you don't have access, you don't have access. Somebody else is going to do it.
LAKSHMANANWell, roll back the tape for a second because you have interviewed every U.S. president since George Bush, Sr. In fact your interview with his son, George W. Bush, was the first one that George W. Bush did as president. Why do you think he chose you?
RAMOSBecause, you know, back then remember that he won the election with 537 votes that he thought might have come from the Cuban-American community in Florida and with a little help from the Supreme Court. So I think back then he was grateful that Latinos at the end, Latinos in Florida, decided the election in the state and then eventually gave him the White House. So that's why he gave me the first interview from his presidency, and of course we have to remember this is before 9/11, and after 9/11, everything, absolutely everything changed, and I couldn't talk to him ever again.
LAKSHMANANWe have a caller here from Center Harbor, New Hampshire. Peggy, go ahead, you're on the line.
PEGGYI've just got a question that has been preying on my mind ever since Mr. Ramos got kicked out of Donald Trump's rally, and I know he's not the first one. Why is Donald Trump allowed to have his henchmen kick people out of rallies? This is the United States of America. We have freedom of speech. Why is that even legal or constitutional? Why is he allowed to do that?
LAKSHMANANAll right, great question from Peggy. I think a lot of people have been asking it not just about you but about a number of other journalists who have either been ejected or physical, you know, manhandled by people doing security at his rallies.
RAMOSAnd then some journalists cannot even go to his rallies or to his press conferences. So I personally, I do think it is an attack on freedom of the press in the United States. I do believe that. Legally, I am assuming because it's a -- it could be considered a private event in a private place, and if he's paying for that, then he might think that he has the right to eject people he doesn't like, but the fact is that -- go ahead.
LAKSHMANANQuick answer, I'm only partly joking, but if he were to win the presidency, could he get away with kicking journalists out of the White House briefing room?
RAMOSCan you imagine? That's -- I think that's a great question because let's suppose I go to the White House if he becomes president, then I ask a question. If he doesn't like the question, what is he going to do, throw me out of the press room in the White House? That's -- that's -- look, campaigns are a great place to test the candidates, and that's why I think it would be too late if we start asking tough questions to either Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in just a few months. We have to start doing that as we speak.
LAKSHMANANYou have said that you want to see a Latino president of the U.S. So what about Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who is now the only Latino left in the race? What about them?
RAMOSIt is for the -- we just have to say something that is incredibly important. For the first time, the Latino community has gone from big numbers to power. Sonia Sotomayor is a great example. And then when it comes to political parties, for the first time in history we had two Latinos, two Cuban-Americans, running for the White House. The new normal is precisely that, to have -- and nobody said oh, Cruz is Cuban-American, or Marco is Cuban-American. No, they -- they were just candidates. That's the new normal, and that shows the new strength of the Hispanic community on one side.
RAMOSOn the other, we have to remember that 27 million Latinos will go to the polls next November, among them...
LAKSHMANANWell, I need to interrupt you, 27 million Latinos will be eligible to vote on November 8, but the number in past elections has been a lot less than that. Why do you think this election, the number who actually show up, I mean to say, why do you think this election is going to be any different?
RAMOSI hope it's going to be different, and (unintelligible) recently said that out of those 27 million eligible to vote that maybe 13 million will go to the polls, but those 13 million, Indira, might decide who's going to be the next president of the United States. Let's put it in perspective. President Barack Obama won by less than by 5 million votes, so 13 million votes could decide the next election.
RAMOSNow Donald Trump does not have the Latino vote right now. He says Latinos love him. That is not true. I just saw a Gallup poll a few hours ago. He only has 12 percent of support among Latinos, 12 percent. To put it in perspective, Romney got 27 percent of the Hispanic vote and lost. McCain got 31 percent of the Hispanic vote and lost. With 12 percent of the Hispanic vote, Donald Trump cannot make it to the White House.
LAKSHMANANSo what level of Hispanic vote does one have to have demographically now, based on recent voting patterns, to actually win the presidency? Because it sounds like you're saying Latinos in America, they're the kingmakers, they're going to be the swing voting bloc that will decide who becomes president.
RAMOSAnd that has happened since the year 2000 with George W. Bush and in the two elections with President Barack Obama. I think, look, Latinos historically, they tend to vote more for the Democratic Party than for the Republican Party. So I think that unless the Republican candidate can get at least 33 percent of the Hispanic vote, he cannot win. Again, McCain got 31 percent, and he didn't win. George W. Bush got 44 percent, and he won. So I think if there's a magic number, because it changes, it has to be at least 33 percent of the Hispanic vote, and Donald Trump is not even close to that. he only has 12 percent.
LAKSHMANANAll right, well, we have an email from Tom in Elgin, Illinois, who wants to know about these Latinos who support Donald Trump. I've seen the figure 16 percent, you cite a new Gallup poll, 12 percent today. Who are these people who are the Latinos who support Donald Trump, and could they -- you know, it sounds like you're saying they're not enough to get him over the top.
RAMOSYeah, and I think those -- those two numbers that you are mentioning are right. Gallup says that he only has 12 percent of the Hispanic vote, and then a Washington Post and Univision poll said that if Donald Trump were to compete against Hillary Clinton, he would only get 16 percent of the Hispanic vote, and it would be exactly the same if he were to compete with Bernie Sanders. Who are they? Well, they're clearly a minority within the Hispanic community. They clearly do not want immigration reform. And they feel disaffected with political parties, and they prefer Donald Trump.
RAMOSI don't know too many of them, but I know that they're there.
LAKSHMANANI'm Indira Lakshmanan, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. We have an email from Ryan in Indiana who says, I hope Mr. Ramos doesn't think he speaks only for a certain ethnic group like Latinos. I'm white, and I've been nodding along throughout the whole show. I've been very disappointed with modern journalism, and it's refreshing to hear Ramos take a stand against that complacency.
LAKSHMANANAll right, Jorge Ramos, you say a journalist's job is to be the voice for the voiceless. So what's the most important thing that you want Americans to know about your audience, the Latino immigrants in this country?
RAMOSThat we are just like you. We're part of America that -- that the person who told me get out of my country, he just didn't know what he was talking about because this is also my country and our country. Let me give you an example. In 2055, it will be a great year because I'll be 97 if I'm alive, but in 2055 the white, non-Hispanic population will become a minority. In other words, this country is becoming more multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial than ever before, and that's a huge trend.
RAMOSAnd if we do not understand that there's a demographic revolution going on, that only tolerance and acceptance and integration is the way to move forward, then nothing's going to happen. And we Latinos, we're just part of the United States, as you are. Just some of us have an accent. That's the only difference.
LAKSHMANANAs you say, a country of immigrants, just some of us have been here longer than others. All right, well on the other side, we have an email from a listener called Sy, who says, I'm a Donald Trump supporter, and I am also a very active member in the Hispanic business community in Central Florida. I agree that Mr. Trump was a bit harsh towards Mr. Ramos, but to suggest that Trump is bigoted or anti-Hispanic is unjust. And let's not forget the word illegal. What we are talking about is illegal immigrants. Quick comment from you, Jorge Ramos?
RAMOSExactly. I don't use the word illegal. They're undocumented, and undocumented immigrants are here because there are thousands of American companies hiring them and because millions of us, millions of us, including all of you listening right now, are benefit from their work. So we are partly responsible for that, and we have to find a solution.
LAKSHMANANWe have a listeners from Cleveland, Ohio, who is saying that she is Latina, and she resents illegals coming through the border, but she says Mr. Trump has made millions off the backs of illegals, and we need to punish any employers who hire these workers. All right, we have time...
LAKSHMANANYes, go ahead.
RAMOSI don't use the word illegal, and the fact is that we are partly responsible because they are here because of us. That's precisely why they are here. I mean, it's an economic problem. As long as they make $5 a day in Mexico, and they can make exactly the same amount here in just a few minutes, they're going to keep on coming.
LAKSHMANANDoing jobs that you say that other Americans don't want to do.
RAMOSThey don't want to do it.
LAKSHMANANAll right, let me -- we only have time for one quick, last call from Lionel in Oklahoma. Lionel, go ahead, make your -- make your question, take your stand.
LIONELHi Mr. Jorge. I just want to say that I've been following you, you know, and your career, and you interview presidents or what you call bad people or good people. I think you have a duty to not just Hispanic people but everybody because you have the opportunity to interview these people. But I think more than being a journalist, you have a duty to fight for our people. You say they're like -- this country has freedom or has democracy. You know it's not true. We don't have no democracy in this country.
LIONELAnd I don't agree about you calling, you know, bad people or good people, like Castro, you know...
LAKSHMANANOkay, Lionel makes an interesting point. He's saying more than a journalist, be an advocate, don't just ask questions. I mean, it leads very nicely into my last question for you, which is you admit to advocacy journalism, but would you ever consider taking the next step, running for office? Has anyone approached you about a run for office?
RAMOSYou know, when I was a little younger, I'm not that young anymore, I just turned 58 yesterday.
RAMOSThank you so much. I considered going back to Mexico and getting involved in politics. And then I realized that...
LAKSHMANANYou're American now. You can't do that.
RAMOSYou know, I have two passports, by the way. But I -- but I love this profession. I think Gabriel Garcia Marquez was right. This is the most beautiful profession in the world, and I wouldn't change it for anything.
LAKSHMANANHas anyone approached you and tried to lure you in to politics in this country?
RAMOSNo, but it's something that I've thought of doing about a decade ago, maybe a little more, going back to Mexico and run for office in Mexico. But here in the United States, I never considered, ever considered running for office here in this country.
LAKSHMANANAll right, with 30 seconds, you dedicate this book to the rebels in each and every one of us and to your mom, who you call the first rebel you knew. Quickly, why?
RAMOSBecause she was not allowed to go to high school, and then she ended up going to college with me. Can you imagine your mom being in the same corridors at the same university, going from class to class and see your mom? That's why I dedicated this book to my mom.
LAKSHMANANThat must have been a wonderful experience.
LAKSHMANANThank you for spending this hour with us, sharing so many of your experiences. Jorge Ramos, the legendary anchor for Univision and author of the new book, "Take a Stand: Lessons from Rebels," or you can read it in Spanish, "Sin Miedo: Lecciones De Rebeldes." Thank you so much of joining us, and thank you to all of our listeners who tuned in. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, sitting in for Diane Rehm.
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