By Rick Jensen
The difference between journalists grandstanding as entertainers or “speaking truth” to power has been demonstrated rather vividly lately and Donald Trump has been the focus of both examples.
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked straightforward questions designed to allow Trump to explain, defend or refute his misogyny. Taking umbrage toward her quoting him, he chose to explain, deflect, play the role of victim and lash out.
Megyn stood by her questioning. She neither fabricated nor took out of context statements made by The Donald.
This week, Univision’s Jorge Ramos decided he had questions for Trump that were more important than those of his industry peers. He interrupted the process and insisted Trump answer his questions as opposed to the questions from other reporters professionally awaiting their turns at the Iowa press conference.
Trump correctly told the reporter to wait his turn. Ramos repeatedly refused and was escorted from the room by security.
Trump went on to answer questions from other reporters and, ten minutes later, Ramos was allowed to return, at which point Trump called upon him and engaged Ramos for a much longer time than he did other journalists. Trump’s gesture was gracious and firm while their exchange was as heated as one might expect when an activist posing as a news anchor lectures a candidate during a press conference.
Ramos’ theatrics generated very little in the way of journalism and quite a bit for his reputation among Latinos who oppose Trump.
What Ramos did correctly was attempt follow-up questions to unveil the depth (or lack thereof) of Trump’s immigration platform. Where he failed was in making assertions about Trump’s positions, losing track of his role as a journalist, badgering and debating Trump.
Similarly, John King thought he was being “journalistic” at a candidates’ forum by asking Newt Gingrich to respond to a story that he reportedly asked his angry ex-wife for an “open marriage.”
Even worse, this question based on the flimsiest of evidence was the first question of the evening, setting a tone for rumor-mongering instead of policy at the 2012 forum.
Newt responded perfectly: “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”
Rounds of applause echoed across America and John King earned a legacy no journalist would covet: politically biased hack.
Wolf Blitzer became totally unhinged when he reconstituted out-of-context a statement Christine O’Donnell made to ask her “yes or no” if she believes evolution is a myth.
She replied that Wolf’s reference to her conversation about evolution on the Bill Maher show was her position that local school districts should be allowed to decide how they choose to teach the theories of evolution and creation, not the federal government.
Wolf was unhappy with her answer. He wanted to crush her, presuming she doesn’t “believe” in evolution, a heresy in his worldview. Frustrated in his disappointment, he barked, “Answer the question!” Blitzer’s co-host, Nancy Karibjanian, also ordered, “Answer the question!”
They replaced their expected “holier than thou” moment with a moment of bullying.
Ramos’ act was similar, barking accusations at Trump, complaining that he has a “right” to ask questions.
Trump handled it well. He politely and sternly told Ramos to sit down, that it wasn’t his turn, yet, then affording Ramos so much more time that another reporter questioned the fairness to other journalists.
Since Ramos and Trump each has his ideological supporters, both will gain massive approval from their base.
Meanwhile, Ramos’ audience will have learned only that Trump plans to deport illegal immigrant gang members in the U.S. and that Ramos agrees “a little” that there are some bad people here in gangs.
© Copyright 2015 Rick Jensen, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Rick Jensen is Delaware’s award-winning conservative talk show host on WDEL, streaming live on WDEL.com from 1pm — 4pm EST. Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Jensen1150WDEL.