February 23, 2024

Jorge Ramos, the Univision star anchor who has become as defined by his clashes with the Trump administration as he has by his coverage of major world events, has become the latest of the Spanish-language network’s top anchors to take issue with an interview broadcast by the news division earlier this month with the former President.

The November 9 interview with Trump, Ramos said in the newest edition of his weekly column, “put in doubt the independence of our news department, and created discomfort and uncertainty within the newsroom.” Univision has for years burnished a reputation for holding top U.S. politicians to account — Trump particularly, following remarks made at the beginning of his campaign for the 2016 election in which he said immigrants from Mexico were drug dealers, criminals and rapists.

TelevisaUnivision, the network’s parent. says its portfolio of media assets “reaches over 60% of the respective TV audiences in both the U.S. and Mexico. Across television, digital, streaming, and audio, the company reaches over 100 million Spanish speakers every day, holding leading positions in the two largest Spanish speaking markets in the world.”

The company’s decision to interview Trump from his Mar-A-Lago residence has raised eyebrows among Democrats and Latino advocacy organizations. The Washington Post reported last week that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, helped arrange the event. The Latino vote is highly desired by both parties and seen in some sectors as being up for grabs in the 2024 election, with some parts of the U.S. Spanish-speaking population showing favor for Trump and Republicans in recent elections. Critics have asked why the Univision correspondent, Enrique Acevedo, did not challenge Trump more noticeably on camera, or point out when the former world leader made false statements on screen.

“We cannot normalize behavior that threatens democracy and the Hispanic community, or offer Trump an open microphone to broadcast his falsehoods and conspiracy theories. We must question and fact-check everything he says and does,” said Ramos in his column. “That’s why it is very dangerous to fail to confront Trump. And that’s why it is our moral obligation to confront him every time there’s a journalistic opportunity to do it. But I understand that not everyone agrees, and I open the debate here.”

The interview has clearly roiled the Univision newsroom. Last week, León Krauze, one of the best-known anchors at Univision‘s news division, said he was leaving the network, though he declined to provide details as to why he chose to exit.

Ramos’ challenge of Univision is the equivalent of Norah O’Donnell or Lester Holt taking public issue with coverage produced by CBS News or NBC News. Ramos has co-anchored the nightly-news program “Noticiero Univision” since the late 1980s. Over the course of his career, he has challenged power when he felt it was getting in the way of facts being disseminated to his audience. In 1983, in the early part of his journalistic tenure, he quit a job working on a newsmagazine for a Grupo Televisa station after he believed a report of his was being censored. In 2015, Ramos questioned Trump at an Iowa news conference, pressing him on his immigration policies — even though Trump’s security pushed him out of the room for a period of time.

Univision already enjoyed influence with Spanish-speaking consumers in the United States. But it has grown in stature in recent years. Under the aegis of Wade Davis, the former chief financial officer of Viacom, Univision has expanded its portfolio. Davis, who purchased a majority stake in Univision in 2020, merged it with Mexican TV provider Grupo Televisa in 2022. Televisa has cultivated a relationship for building relationships with political leaders in Mexico.

Davis last week defended the interview. “We made a decision to adopt a strategy that is different than what some other major networks are using, which has been labeled as partisan,” he said in memo sent to employees. “Univision’s news strategy is one that is non-partisan and objective, and we serve our audience by being welcoming of competing issues, ideas, candidates and parties. We are here to serve our audience, not any political party, any one candidate or partisan groups.” He noted that Univision had not had a current or former Republican president on its air in 22 years.

The CEO said that President Biden had been offered an interview as well and said he hoped “we will be judged based on the entirety of our coverage of the 2024 election.”

Ramos acknowledged the need to interview newsmakers of all stripes, but said Univision’s interview with Trump did not press him enough on issues or his responses. “Of course we should not take sides, and we are obliged to broadcast the messages of all candidates in the 2024 presidential election, he said. “But at the same time we cannot surrender our responsibility to ask hard and precise questions.”

He also hinted that he might consider other options, if pressed. “For 39 years Univision has allowed me to report with absolute independence and freedom – and even to write columns like this one – and I will always be very grateful. That’s why I left Mexico and came to the United States,” he wrote. “This is what I believe, and I will continue to do it as a free journalist, wherever I might be.”

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