During Sunday’s MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz and the panel discussed the biased performance of Univision activist anchor Jorge Ramos and his role co-moderating the most recent Democratic debate. After playing some clips showcasing Ramos’s left-wing bias, Kurtz asked: “How is Jorge Ramos able to sit on that ABC panel and crusade and is that kind of an embarrassment to the network?”
Moderating alongside ABC’s Linsey Davis, David Muir, and George Stephanopoulos, Ramos chided former Vice President Joe Biden for, as Kurtz put it, daring to “enforce the law by deporting who were here illegally” and asking South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg whether he thought “that people who support President Trump and his immigration policies are racist.”
The Federalist’s Ben Domenech compared Ramos’s performance to the “most embarrassing debate moderation” of the CNBC's John Harwood from the 2016 cycle. Domenech stated that “Jorge Ramos, I think, on the scale of 10 being Harwood, he was at like a solid 8.” He also argued that “you can’t put someone who has that strong of an advocacy role on a debate panel and expect it to go well.”
Kurtz pointed to the double standard by members of the media: “I don’t see virtually anyone in the mainstream media saying, you know, Jorge went too far, he’s over the top, he’s biased, he’s supposed to be neutral...Remember, Fox can’t host a DNC debate because it’s so biased.”
Later, Kurtz stressed that the network’s hard news anchors Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, and Chris Wallace would have done a better, fairer job as debate moderators than “an opinionated person like Jorge Ramos.”
Also on the panel, The Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio said that for the Democratic primary debates, “it’s okay to have someone like him (Ramos) there doing that.” She suggested that C-SPAN should moderate the general election debates because “we need a real neutral person in there.” While Kurtz praised Ferrechio’s idea to have C-SPAN moderate the general election debates as a “great suggestion,” he conceded that her vision probably would not become a reality.
Ferrechio’s point about ABC’s desire for sparks flying reinforced panelist Iona College Professor Jeanne Zaino’s concern about having “networks at all host these debates.” Zaino described the idea of networks hosting debates as a “charade being pushed on the American public by institutions that are designed to make money,” suggesting that instead “you need independent organizations running these debates.”
The fact that Ramos got anywhere near the debate stage should not come as a surprise since at least 29 executives working for ABC or its parent company Disney have donated to Democratic presidential candidates. These executives surely watched the debate in delight.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of MediaBuzz is below. Click “expand” to read more.
11:19 a.m. Eastern
HOWARD KURTZ: All right, I want to get to the debate. I think that ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and David Muir did a solid and substantive job but Jorge Ramos of Univision was on that panel, just take a look at a couple of the questions that he asked the candidates.
JORGE RAMOS: Are you prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations? Why should Latinos trust you?
JOE BIDEN: We didn’t lock people up in cages, we didn’t separate families.
RAMOS: President Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists and killers, tried to ban Muslims from entering the country…do you think that people who support President Trump and his immigration policies are racist?
PETE BUTTIGIEG: Anyone who supports this is supporting racism.
KURTZ: Do you think Trump supporters are racist? How was Jorge Ramos able to sit on that ABC panel and crusade and is that kind of an embarrassment to the network?
BEN DOMENECH: You know, in 2016, I think everyone would agree that the most embarrassing debate moderation was done by John Harwood of CNBC. It was insulting. He, you know, talked to…to President…now-President Trump; saying he was running a comic book campaign.
DOMENECH: Jorge Ramos, I think, on the scale of…of 10 being Harwood, he was at like a solid 8. It was…it was a situation where he was saying all of these things that are so opinionated and so aggressive and suggesting…offering, offering all these different defenses of…you can’t put someone who has that strong of an advocacy role on a debate panel and expect it to go well.
KURTZ: Jeanne, ABC certainly knew what it was getting with Jorge Ramos. I don’t see virtually anyone in the mainstream media saying, you know, Jorge went too far…he’s over the top, he’s biased, he’s supposed to be neutral as a matter…Remember, Fox can’t host a DNC debate because it’s so biased.
JEANNE ZAINO: Yeah. And…and you know, I would even go further than Ben. My problem is having networks at all host these debates. There was a time when the League of Women Voters was hosting debates. And when they were pushed out of that position, they said this is a charade being pushed on the American public by institutions that are designed to make money. That is a problem. You need independent organizations running these debates, not networks.
KURTZ: Yeah. My point, obviously, is that Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum and Chris Wallace would be a lot more solid journalists than an opinionated person like Jorge Ramos. Let me ask you, Susan, I thought maybe he would just make an attempt to tone it down for the duration of the debate since he’s known as a crusader on behalf of…you know, how dare the Obama administration enforce the law by deporting people who were here illegally, three million of them. Your take.
SUSAN FERRECHIO: I think they wanted that. I think ABC was looking for some sparks, and they got them. And I think the debates for the primaries, it’s okay to have someone like him there doing that. I mean, they…they don’t hide it anymore. They don’t hide the bias in these…in these debates anymore. I say it all the time, it’s fine when you’re just talking just to Democrats. My concern is what’s going to happen when we get to the general debate? That’s when we need to be very careful who we put up there. I know there were accusations of bias the last time. I say let C-SPAN do it this time. We need someone…a real neutral person in there…That’s the main problem.
KURTZ: It’s a great suggestion. I don’t…don’t see it happening.