Univision anchor Jorge Ramos defended his exchange with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on immigration, arguing that he should not be called an activist because he is challenging power.
“Here’s the problem with your immigration plan: It’s full of empty promises,” Ramos told Trump. “You cannot deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, you cannot deny citizenship to the children in this country.”
In a discussion at George Washington University, Ramos said he had to make those statements to provide a premise for his questions.
“First you have to establish the premise and you have to, from my point of view, in order to challenge a candidate or a president or someone in power, you have to establish why you are challenging that person and after that I was going to ask him other questions,” Ramos said. “I didn’t even have time to do that. Maybe there were only 5 to 10 seconds when I had to do that so what’s the philosophy behind that? I think as a journalist the most important social responsibility that we have is to challenge those who are in power.”
Ramos identified “six areas” where it is appropriate for a journalist to confront those in power.
“When it comes to discrimination, racism, corruption, public lies, dictatorships or human rights, in those instances…I think you have to challenge those who are in power. And in the case of Donald Trump, when he was discriminating against a group, in this case Mexican immigrants, and when he was violating human rights for immigrants in this country or making that proposal we had to challenge him,” he said.
Trump had said he was referring to crimes committed by illegal immigrants only.
“Listen, we have tremendous crime,” Trump told Ramos. “We have some very bad ones.”
In response, Ramos said, “No human being is illegal, Mr. Trump.”
Trump responded, “Well, when they cross the border, from a legal standpoint, they’re illegal immigrants.”
Ramos compared his immigration statements at the Trump press conference to uncovering the Watergate scandal and Anderson Cooper’s reporting during Hurricane Katrina. He also reiterated that “no human being is illegal.”
“I understand why some people might think we were doing activism, not journalism, but I would argue that the best examples of journalism that we have are as a journalist, you challenge those who are in power: Edward Murrow against McCarthy, Cronkite during the Vietnam War, the Washington Post reporters when they forced the resignation of Richard Nixon,” he said.
Ramos said those are examples of great journalism that challenged power.
The Univision and Fusion anchor revealed he had pre-planned to record the testy exchange with Trump using two cameras at the press conference.
“We knew we had to do two things as journalists. First to stand up, I mean, again, if you ask a question sitting down it would be a completely different balance of power and as a journalist you have to be at the same level. And second, we knew I was only going to have a few seconds to ask a question and I purposely made the decision I was going to continue asking the question regardless of what he [Trump] was going to be doing,” Ramos said.
“So TV doesn’t happen like that, TV is produced. There was a camera in front of me, there was another camera taking a shot of Mr. Trump, so for TV to work you have to plan that – so it was something planned, obviously.”
Despite his criticism of Trump’s illegal immigration plan, Ramos said the Republican Party is “doing something right” by having two Hispanic presidential candidates.
“Part of the Latino power is that for the first time in history we have two Hispanic presidential candidates for the first time: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and obviously the Republicans are doing something right because we haven’t seen that kind of number yet in the Democratic Party,” he said. “But it is very important we have the possibility for the first time in history of having a Latino president or a Latina president.”
He also had some praise for Fox News.
“I have a lot of respect for many reporters from Fox News. I think what they did with the first [GOP] debate was truly a good work of journalism and we have to recognize that, but we simply cannot be partisan and we have to show that we are not partisan,” Ramos said.
Moderator Frank Sesno asked Ramos what he would ask Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton if he had the chance.
“We have to ask her about Benghazi,” he said. “People want to know what did she know, if she was responsible at any level.”
Ramos said many people still have doubts about the terrorist attack in Benghazi and Clinton’s email scandal.
“Our role would be to ask those questions, absolutely, and we have to do exactly the same with all the candidates. Our role is not to support any candidate,” he said.