Univision anchor Jorge Ramos asks a question of presidential candidate Donald Trump during a news conference in Dubuque, Iowa, on Aug. 25. Earlier, Trump had Ramos removed from the room.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Mexican-American journalist Jorge Ramos has worked in a number of authoritarian countries, including Venezuela and Cuba, but until this summer, he had never been ejected from a news conference.
That changed on Aug. 25 in Dubuque, Iowa, when Ramos, who is the co-anchor of the evening news on Univision, attended a news conference held by presidential candidate Donald Trump. Ramos asked Trump about his proposal to deport 11 million immigrants in two years. Trump responded by telling him to "sit down" and to "go back to Univision." Trump then had his bodyguard force Ramos out of the room.
Trump said that Ramos hadn't been called on. Ramos tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "I raised my hand. I said, 'I have a question on immigration.' Nobody objected ... not the reporters, not Donald Trump."
"It was an attack on the freedom of the press in the United States," Ramos says. "I was just expressing the premise of my question, which was that he couldn't deport 11 million and that he couldn't build a wall and that he couldn't deny citizenship to U.S. citizens." (Ramos was later allowed back into the news conference and allowed to ask his questions.)
Ramos was born and raised in Mexico and began his career as a journalist there. But, he says, the Mexican government often told the media what to say and what not to say. "There was direct censorship from the presidency to the mass media," he says. "I rebelled against that censorship."
In 1983 he came to the U.S. on a student visa; 25 years later he became a U.S. citizen. Ramos says, "I am glad that I came to this country because the First Amendment has given me all the opportunities that I couldn't have in Mexico."
On what happened after Donald Trump posted Ramos' cellphone number on Instagram
At that moment I knew that my life was going to change. So the first thing I had to change was my cellphone. And I learned a lesson: that you should never ever, ever give your cellphone number to Donald Trump. And after that, and I think it was a very important and ethical decision, at that precise moment we decided that we had to talk to Donald Trump either way, with an organized interview with him or to go and find him wherever he was going to be, and that's precisely what we did.?
On his interaction with Trump at a news conference in August
He tried to shut me down. He said that I did not have the right to ask a question; of course I had the right to ask a question, as a journalist and as an immigrant and as a U.S. citizen. And at that precise moment, when he realized what was going on, he did exactly what he had done in the past, which is call on another reporter.
What we never expected was that he was going to call on his bodyguard to throw me out of a press conference. I've never, ever been ejected from a press conference anywhere in the world in 30 years, and this was the first time. I've been to Venezuela, I've been to Cuba, I've been to many authoritarian countries and that had never happened to me before. ...
Then Donald Trump, he doesn't apologize, but Donald Trump realized that he had made a huge mistake. It was an attack on the freedom of the press in the United States. Just imagine, I saw the news coming from many countries. One of them coming from China and coming from Cuba, and those countries were having a field day, because in those countries there is no freedom of the press. They were celebrating the fact that someone in the United States had done this incredible kind of censorship. So Donald Trump rectified, and the same bodyguard who pushed me out of the press conference had to open the door and allow me to come in.
On why he chose to leave Mexico and come to the U.S. to work in journalism
As a very young reporter I wanted to do a little criticism on the way Mexicans chose their president, in which there was no democracy. The president, in turn, would decide who was going to be the next president, and my report was completely censored, completely censored. I was very young, with a lot of ideas, and I decided to quit. I wrote a letter of resignation that I kept as a badge of honor for many years. And I quit. I sold my car. ... and I got about $2,000 and I applied to UCLA extension in Los Angeles, I got accepted and then I moved to this country. So I was directly affected by censorship, and I didn't want to be a censored journalist in Mexico. ... And you know what has happened in Mexico in the last 10 years, for instance, more than 80 journalists have been killed.
On the authoritarian society he grew up in in Mexico
We are talking about a very authoritarian regime back then in Mexico until the year 2000, so there were three elements in which authority were imposed for you as a kid: first, your father. He would tell you exactly what to do, what to eat, when to go, when to watch TV. Then it was the church. I went to Catholic school and the priest back then would not only punish you physically, hitting you on the hands and pulling your hair and torturing you with ideas that you would go to hell, and then, of course, the political system, which was incredibly authoritarian. There was no democracy, and so you would have your father, the Catholic Church and an authoritarian regime imposing ideas on you.
Nobody is paying attention to Ann Coulter, and she does not like it.
"They're ignoring me now!" Coulter wails, sitting in a conference room at the National Press Club in Washington as a large crowd filters in to hear her promote her new book, ¡Adios, America!.
"I haven't been on CNN yet, because I was made up, my hair was done, I was mic'ed up, I was walking to the set," where Don Lemon was anchoring, she said. "He was doing a full hour on the Doogans or whatever their name is," she said, referring to the Duggars. Given the interest in one Duggar son's confession of molestation, the network ended up bumping her segment. "The next night, 'We're going to do all Doogans again.' And then the next week, it's the cop who yelled at a girl in a bikini! And then it's Bruce Jenner!"
This is the lament of a woman who became a national political celebrity by stoking outrage — who rose up alongside the cable-television networks and conservative talk-radio, needling liberals and flattering conservatives with a potent mix of hilarity, bombast, and the occasional dash of racism. This is the lament of a woman who has written an outrageous book, one immaculately designed to piss off half of America, or more. This is the lament of a woman living in a time of outrage, outrage that spreads viruslike on Twitter, television, and Facebook. This is the lament of a woman who has found herself unable to capitalize on that outrage.
This is perhaps the nation's foremost political performance artist, living in a very strange time. Coulter arrives at the Press Club flanked by two oversize bodyguards, who serve to underscore her supermodel leanness, as does her expensive-looking cocktail dress. For the past few weeks, she has been on the road — she normally splits time between Los Angeles and New York — doing meet-and-greets and talking to anyone who will sit down with her about her new book, a jeremiad against immigration and immigrants.
"I have uncovered a massive conspiracy," Coulter says: The government has failed to tally all the ways that immigrants are destroying America, through brazen criminal acts and damage to the social fabric. Some of the specific, questionable assertions contained within are that Americans have more to fear from Mexicans than ISIS (section title, "Headless Body Found in Borderless Country"), that "immigration cheerleaders" are conflating immigrants and native-born black Americans (the latter being more deserving than the former), and that a really, really, really big fence would help keep more Mexicans out.
It is a sprawling, occasionally hilarious, often offensive screed that all started with Coulter's sneaking suspicion that immigrants were committing crimes at high rates. (Several academic papers conclude that immigrants commit crimes less often than native-born Americans.) "I kind of knew from prosecutor and emergency-room friends of mine about the Hispanic child-rape predilection," she said, leaning in, her tone affable and chummy. "I thought, Let's just look up the crimes! We're letting all these people in. What are the crimes? You know about the credit-card frauds from the Albanians. I mean, I list them at some point in my damn book, what crimes the various immigrant groups specialize in. They're very unusual crimes from what Americans are used to."
She found little data on the nefarious activities of various immigrant groups, and so she went digging herself. "The government is keeping detailed records on how many Americans have carports. How many Americans have mold in their bathroom," Coulter said. "Hey, I know, instead of taking surveys and counting on people to tell the truth about having mold in their bathroom and then having teams of statisticians pour through it, why don't you guys, whose salaries we're already paying, just count? Just count and tell us!"
What emerges from her research is the kind of argument that should elicit an uncomplicated response from pro-immigration liberals and the country's 40 million or so immigrants: something like, "what, no?!" But thus far, Coulter has found herself struggling to annoy, enrage, and otherwise provoke the mainstream media or the left. Bloggers have left her alone. Twitter has left her alone. The networks have left her alone. "Nobody will debate me!" she said. "There's been no ABC, NBC, CBS for me on this book! This is my 11th New York Times best-seller. I write them myself! I research them myself! I'm the female Bob Woodward! If I were a liberal, I couldn't write another book, I'd be so busy collecting awards! I'd be posing for the cover of Vanity Fair!"
Granted, she has managed to spar with her two "holy grail" opponents on the topic: Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, with whom she appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher, and Univision and Fusion host Jorge Ramos. "God bless him," Coulter said of Ramos. "We found a Mexican willing to do a job no American will do: interview Ann Coulter."
The response on the right has been more complicated, and only a little less disinterested. Right now, the party is struggling to reconcile its distaste for undocumented immigrants with its need to expand its base, making the right immigration policy an uncomfortable, divisive issue. Coulter, for her part, thinks the answer for conservatives is to forget any form of what she calls amnesty. "You're making a big mistake," she said, recounting the advice she had given Hill staffers earlier that day. "This isn't how you win. There have been two Republican landslides in the last century: Nixon and Reagan. And it was by appealing to the white vote. Specifically, the white working-class vote. That's your base!"
But she worried that Republican candidates would duck the issue rather than staking a strong claim, thus alienating either the pro-immigration or anti-immigration crowd. Save for one candidate, she mused: Donald Trump, who had "clearly" read the copy of ¡Adios, America! that she had sent him. "Nobody talked about Hispanic child-rape until now," she said. "That was in his opening speech!"
The Donald just might be the one to push the issue to the forefront and to pin down other candidates on their policies, she thought. "There is no possibility in any debate that there will be one question about immigration, the No. 1 issue in the country according to polls," she said. (The economy generally trumps immigration in voter surveys.) "There won't be one question on it! There will be six questions on gay marriage, global warming, abortion, rape, sexism, the glass ceiling, a million questions on ISIS," she said, then rolling her eyes and snoring loudly for rhetorical effect. "But there won't be one question on immigration. Now maybe there will be. Thank you, Donald Trump."
The Donald poses an interesting counterpart to Coulter. Granted, Coulter is far funnier than Trump is. Her politics aside, she is the sort of person you'd want to join you for a boozy brunch. She is the sort of person you'd want as a wingman at an awkward family wedding. She's magnetic, campy, self-deprecating, and wisecracking. The Donald, on the other hand, lacks any sense of irony at all. But squint a little and the two seem like uncanny versions of one another: blonde and bloviating, performative and ridiculous, camera-hungry and swaggering, and very much in on the joke.
That is the thing about Coulter: It has long been obvious that the provocation is deliberate, and the persona at least in part an act. Coulter bristles a little at this when I suggest it. "I'm not trying to stoke outrage," she said. "If there were no liberals in the world, I would write the exact same book. If there were no media in the world, I would write the exact same book. I want to keep it interesting for my readers, and interesting for me!" But a few breaths later, she admits that she "loves arguing," and says that it was much more fun to be a partisan media figure a decade ago, back when her antagonists on the other side took the bait. "Liberals decided it's much better not to play outraged with me anymore," she said. "I sell lots of books that way."
Nowadays, both sides of the spectrum increasingly look — and turn their debates — inward. The political polarization that figures like Coulter helped to stoke might have inadvertently made them less potent as provocateurs. "Liberals watch MSNBC, conservatives watch Fox," Coulter said. "They don't want to hear ten seconds of a liberal on Fox, and they don't want to hear ten seconds of a conservative on MSNBC. But I think that's a mistake. I think it's much more interesting, and intellectual, and fun to hear both sides." She wistfully recalled the days of Hannity and Colmes.
But shortly after we talked, the outrage-attention found Coulter once again. Appearing on Fox Business, she referred to Nikki Haley, South Carolina's governor, as "an immigrant" who "does not understand America's history" after she suggested that South Carolina take down the Confederate flag at its statehouse. Haley ("is not an immigrant, but" 1 ) was born in the small town of Bamberg, South Carolina. Coulter got raked across the internet's coals. Somewhere, though, I bet she is smiling.
1 Oliver Darcy, THE BLAZE, Jun. 23, 2015 10:52pm
TAGS: ANN COULTER | OUTRAGE CULTURE
Americans believe newcomers "legal and illegal" are more likely to commit crimes. Research suggests the opposite is true.Ronald Bailey from the October 2014 issue
Do immigrants commit more than their share of crimes? Most Americans think so. In a 2010 poll conducted for KSL-TV in Utah, 62 percent of respondents "definitely" or "probably" agreed that illegal immigrants are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime. Asked whether "more immigrants cause higher crime rates" in the National Opinion Research Center's 2000 General Social Survey, 25 percent of respondents said this was "very likely" and an additional 48 percent answered "somewhat likely." And a 2007 poll conducted on behalf of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice reported that 62 percent of Americans associate illegal immigration with higher crime rates.
The criminality of newcomers to America's shores is a sticking point in the immigration debate, one that anti-immigrant think tanks such as the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform often return to. Just one problem: It's not real.
In fact, most research, such as a 2008 report by University of California sociologist Ruben Rumbaut for the Police Foundation National Conference, finds that
immigrants, including undocumented ones, are less prone to crime than are native-born Americans.
Rumbaut finds that the incarceration rate of American-born males between 18 and 39 years of age was five times the rate of foreign-born males, and finds similar conclusions in a survey of other studies on the topic.
A 2008 study by researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California found that "the foreign-born, who make up about 35 percent of the adult population in California, constitute only about 17 percent of the adult prison population." They further noted, "U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men." A 2010 report from the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice observed that, between 1991 and 2008, when an unprecedented 3.7 million foreign-born people-about a third of whom were "unauthorized" immigrants-moved to California, the state's violent crime rate fell by 55 percent.
The national violent crime rate, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, also has fallen by more than 70 percent since its peak in 1993 even as the number of immigrants, legal and undocumented, residing in the land of the free swelled from 20 to 40 million over the past two decades.
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