Politics

Presidential Debates Overlook Latino Moderators

By now, just about everyone in and outside of the United States are aware of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s unapologetic and harsh take on Latinos.

Now, as the presidential debate season has begun, Latinos have been shut out from the panel of moderators, a position that could have a great effect on the content of a debate.

It could also provide a free pass to Trump, allowing him to avoid being taking to task in front of a national audience for his many diatribes against Latinos.

Further debates, which began on Monday, Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York, are scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri; and Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, as well as a vice presidential debate on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Virginia.

The moderators are comprised of Lester Holt, an African-American anchor with NBC News, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, Chris Wallace of Fox News and Anderson Cooper of CNN, a lineup that doesn’t sit well with many Latinos.

“No topic has received more media attention this year than immigration, particularly Hispanic immigration,” Javier Palomarez, the president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an op-ed on Thursday, Sept. 15.

A spokesman for Palomarez on Thursday said the op-ed speaks for itself.

“[Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton wants to find ways to ease the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, including Hispanic immigrants,” Palomarez said. “Trump has proposed his famous wall to block Hispanic immigrants … a different wall has been created to block Hispanics from having a say in a subject that affects their entire culture. It is a wall that has kept Hispanic-Americans out of the debate regarding their own future. This is a glaring omission that must change.”

In a long list of insulting and harsh words and actions toward Latinos, the New York businessman also famously had award-winning Latino journalist Jorge Ramos kicked out of a press conference simply for attempting to finish a question.

“Go back to Univision,” Trump railed.

In February, Trump’s own party bristled at his attack on federal District Court Judge and Indiana native Gonzalo P. Curiel, who was overseeing a fraud case against Trump University?

“We have a very hostile judge,” Trump said. “I believe he happens to be Spanish. Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump and who happens to be, we believe, Mexican.”

The lack of Latino moderators is a “disappointment,” said Randy Falco, president and CEO of Univision.

“It’s an abdication of your responsibility to represent and reflect one of the largest and most influential communities in the U.S.,” Falco wrote in a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates. He also noted that he was in “disbelief” because of the glaring omission.

“The Latino vote is important and the percentage of registered Latino voters has increased in battleground states like Nevada and Florida,” Falco said.

Hispanic-Americans are an important and growing demographic. Right now, almost one in every five U.S. citizens is Hispanic, according to research reported by D.C.’s Hill Magazine.

Also, one in every four children in the U.S. is Hispanic.

By 2020, one in five workers of the U.S. labor force will be Hispanic. Hispanics account for more than 27 million American votes, a figure that increases by 66,000 every month or 800,000 every year, according to the Pew Research Center.

In a later interview, Falco noted that there are many great Latinos who could serve as moderator.”

“Maria Elena Salinas from Univision is fantastic, Jose Diaz-Balart from Telemundo, Tom Llamas and Cecilia Vega from ABC, and Maria Hinojosa from NPR,” he said. “We have many, many great, fantastic journalists who could do a great, great job in the debates,” he said. “It’s about time to have a Latino or a Latina in those debates as moderators.”

NBC News said the omission of a Latino moderator means that Trump has succeeded in shaping the debates to his liking and suggested that the commission caved to the Republican candidates’ demands.

Stephen Nuño, associate professor of political science at Northern Arizona University, told reporters that the presidential debates are something “very symbolic and important” in the electoral contest.

“I think the most disappointing part is that it seems like the representation of minorities and women is not taken into account as one of the parameters,” Nuño said.

Prior to moderators being announced, Ramos the Univision news anchor, openly campaigned for one of the spots.

“I am a registered independent,” he said. “I am never partisan.”

Ramos wrote in a Time magazine column this summer that journalists, politicians and voters will “be judged by how we responded to Donald Trump.”

“Like it or not, this election is a plebiscite on the most divisive, polarizing and disruptive figure in American politics in decades. And neutrality is not an option,” he wrote.

Ramos said that people will be asked if they were brave enough to challenge Trump “when he insulted immigrants, Muslims, women, war heroes and people with disabilities? Are you on the record correcting his lies?”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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