Sandbagging a Guest with False Information is Wrong in Any Language

Jorge Ramos is the most famous and respected Spanish-Language television journalist. He is often invited to participate in the political roundtable on ABC’s “This Week” program and last election cycle he was given the honor of moderating debates between the Presidential field. When candidates Obama and McCain made their last appeals for the Latino vote, it was Jorge Ramos who had the honor of interviewing them on Univision.

There is no denying that Mr. Ramos is the most influential television journalist in the Latino-American community and this Sunday he interviewed Andrew Breitbart for Univision’s version of “Meet the Press”, “Al Punto”. The following exchange was not only an example of typical “gotcha” journalism but unfortunately for Mr. Ramos, it also shows that he or his staff might be getting their talking points from the sad clowns at Media Matters for America.


RAMOS: In one of your websites, in “Big Peace,” there was an article written by Jason Bradley titled “Terror Babies: A Growing National Security Threat.” Do you share Mr. Bradley’s point of view?

BREITBART: I didn’t even read that article but I can tell you this, I created the Huffington Post in the United States of America which is a left of center blog. I created my blogs which are mostly right of center and I believe in open debate in our society. That’s why I believe so strongly in the first amendment, so I don’t know the specifics of that article, had I known going into this interview, I would’ve read it and we could have talked about the specifics.

RAMOS: Well the specifics is that Mr. Bradley’s view is that children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants are terror babies.

BREITBART: I’ve never read that, I’ve never heard that and I’d have to see the context of that to give you an opinion. I would never call people that are born in this country who are from Mexico terror babies.

There have been 3,607 posts at Big Peace, 3,659 posts at Big Journalism, 8,039 posts at Big Hollywood, 7,329 posts at Big Government and 35,422 posts at Breitbart.tv. For Ramos to ask Breitbart about one post from March of this year, that didn’t exactly make headlines from coast-to-coast is unfair on its face. But then for Ramos to characterize the post as saying “children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants are terror babies” is the kind of mis-representation that could only have been made if his staff only read the Media Matters lies about the post instead of the post itself. Ramos not only slandered the post and its author with that statement, he also misinformed his audience about an article that most of them probably did not read.

Breitbart’s answer to Ramos’ fabricated mis-characterization of the post was “I would never call people that are born in this country who are from Mexico terror babies” and of course, neither did Mr. Bradley or anybody else in the Big Peace post in question.

Here are the facts:

The post by Mr. Bradley has one paragraph of editorial where he specifically declares that the term “terror babies” refers exclusively to the children born here from illegal immigrants who have then grown up to commit terrorist acts against the United States:

Most notably among these children are Anwar al-Awlaki and Yaser Esam Hamdi. This special category has been rightfully dubbed “Terror Babies.”

That is the only reference to “terror babies” in the entire 159-word post that is Mr. Bradley’s own. The other description of “terror babies” comes from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) who introduced the term. The quote from Rep. Gohmert is part of an excerpt that Mr. Bradley pulled from that xenophobic, right-wing publication Mother Jones.

Finally, the post links to the non-partisan Center of Immigration Studies which wrote an extensive report on the “terror babies” concept.

That’s it. A 159-word post which has one paragraph of editorial, one paragraph excerpted from Mother Jones, and then a link to a non-partisan think tank specializing in immigration issues. Out of the over 55,000 posts published on Breitbart’s sites he was supposed to have a detailed response to Ramos’ reference to a 159-word post which garnered 35 comments four months ago.

For Ramos to ask the question was the worst kind of “gotcha” journalism that is usually reserved for morning show chicks-turned failed network anchor, not someone with a record and reputation like Ramos. But for him then to describe the post to his guest and to his viewers as “Well the specifics is that Mr. Bradley’s view is that children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants are terror babies” is journalistic malpractice that Ramos should apologize for. Let’s hope he didn’t know the facts and someone on the staff just gave him some wrong information.

This will be a good test for Howard Kurtz. One doubts he’d let a Fox News anchor get away with this kind of mis-characterization. Will he dare be so politically incorrect as to challenge a Spanish-speaking member of the liberal press? After all, if you criticize him doesn’t it automatically make you racist? Stay-tuned at Media Matters for the answer to that one. You’ll find it under the headline “Racist Breitbart Blogger O’Connor Attacks Univision’s Ramos.”

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