Was Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s inability to identify Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador a limited Latino-interest issue or a moment that warranted broader coverage as a campaign-defining “deer-in-the-headlights” gaffe? The liberal media, hamstrung by soft bigotry and blinded by double standards.
Was the question determined to be “Latino-interest” because it was asked by Telemundo at a LULAC forum in Nevada, or because of the subject matter itself? Immediate coverage would suggest that this was indeed the case. Few TV outlets picked the story up at first, with this segment between MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Janet Murguia of UnidosUS (the org formerly known as National Council of La Raza) being the most emblematic:
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC:I want to share with you something you may have seen, that happened- I think it was at a LULAC event a few days ago, a few nights ago in Nevada. This was questioning the candidates on who is the president of Mexico. Let's watch.
GUADALUPE VENEGAS, TELEMUNDO: I'm asking because I feel like a lot of the times, this is our neighbor to the south, and a lot of people don't even know his name. So, you know - do you know his name?
TOM STEYER: I forgot.
VENEGAS: Do you know who he is? Do you know his name?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Yes. Yes- I know he is the Mexican president.
VENEGAS: But can you tell me his name?
VENEGAS: Can you tell me the president of Mexico?
PETE BUTTIGIEG: Yeah. President López Obrador, I hope. Heh heh.
VENEGAS: You're the only one that's been able to tell me that today.
MITCHELL: Really. I mean, did you see Amy Klobuchar was sort of looking for a life line….
JANET MURGUÍA, CEO, UNIDOSUS: ...trying to get that phone-a-friend in there.
MITCHELL: I mean, that is surprise… surprising. Uh...
MURGUÍA: It is. So…
MITCHELL: Our nearest neighbor.
MURGUÍA: Yeah. I mean, obviously folks appeal to the Mexican-American community- there are still a lot of ties. But, you know, it's not the end of the world if someone doesn't know his name. But you think, on a presidential stage, you’d want to know your nearest neighbor and you’re in a state that has the highest…
MITCHELL: Nearest neighbor to Nevada, to say, not any nearer than Canada to the North.
To be clear, the gotcha game is as much of an ingrained tradition in our presidential politics as is the fried fare at the Iowa State Fair. The end-goal for candidates is the same, whether asked a question on some obscure prime minister or handed a corndog: eat it quickly and avoid looking ridiculous in the process. On the other hand, it goes without saying that a Republican presidential candidate would not have had the benefit of such a free pass- either from Andrea Mitchell or from the head of La Raza.
The fact is that we’re not talking about Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan, which by the way drew much more coverage than the Klobugaffe, but of Mexico- our southern neighbor with whom we share a complex history, a revamped trade relationship, and two thousand miles of jagged border. If not a disqualifying gaffe, it is at least a cause for concern that goes beyond the scope of “Latino concern”.
This lack of serious coverage is further aggravated by the fact that Pete Buttigieg’s subsequent back-and-forth with Klobuchar over the gaffe at the Nevada Democratic Debate drew more coverage than the gaffe itself. This includes Spanish-language media, except for Telemundo who got the scoop and framed its debate coverage around it.
Klobuchar’s campaign will suffer some damage from not knowing who the president of Mexico is, but not as much damage as will the liberal media for its lazy, ambivalent coverage of what would have been a disqualifier for a conservative presidential candidate.