In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross on Monday, Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos provided this explanation for his willingness to speak with people such as Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Fox newsman Sean Hannity, whose views on immigration he strongly opposes:
I am fully convinced, Terry, that we have to talk with those who don't agree with us in order to have comprehensive immigration reform at some point. If we don't talk to them, nothing is going to happen. ... I have to talk with those who don't agree with me. Those who are actually giving Donald Trump ideas on what to say and what to do. ... And I've spoken with many conservatives who don't agree with me. But I am convinced that if we don't have that dialogue nothing is going to be achieved.
As a longtime immigration reporter who has watched Ramos's newscast for many years, I would be more impressed with his journalistic bona fides if he spent some time talking with ordinary Americans. Or he could send his reporters to talk with ordinary Americans who feel that immigration, especially mass illegal immigration like what Arizona has experienced, has become disruptive in their communities.
Federal officials estimate that Arizona's illegal alien population grew from 89,000 in 1990 to 560,000 in 2008. The influx, mostly of poor and poorly educated people from Mexico, caused great stress for schools, neighborhoods, health care systems, and social services. Yet Ramos's newscast made almost no effort to understand this "other side of the story." preferring to focus on the immigrants as victims of the racist intolerance that Ramos sees as the fundamental motivation of those who oppose illegal immigration.
Ramos's highly promoted interviews with Trump, Coulter, and the like are good for Univision's ratings and for Ramos's celebrity as a self-styled fighter for the undocumented. But his failure to talk with ordinary Americans is bad for his viewers' understanding of this extraordinarily complex and important issue.
In other words, it is bad journalism. Ramos owes his viewers less sanctimonious posturing and more straight reporting. If he paid attention to the stories of ordinary people on the other side of the immigration debate, he would understand why Trump has surged in public opinion polls while public confidence in the federal government has sunk. It's an important story that Ramos — and therefore the viewers who depend on his news judgment — do not understand.