Donald Trump’s contentious relationship with the Latino media has already caused a backlash against the Republican presidential candidate, and it could end up hurting his campaign. The question is — How much?
The GOP has spent years trying to build its relationship with Hispanic voters, but Trump — the current leader among the party’s large group of presidential hopefuls — has so far mostly succeeded in rankling that growing contingent with derogatory comments he made about Mexicans earlier this summer, as well as his harsh proposals for immigration reform. Now Trump is finding himself increasingly at odds with Latino news outlets, with that tension coming to a head Tuesday in a shouting match with Jorge Ramos, a news anchor at Univision and Fusion, who has been called the Walter Cronkite of the Spanish-speaking world due to his influence with Hispanic viewers.
Ramos, who has been openly critical of Trump in the past, tried to ask the real estate mogul a question about his immigration proposal at a campaign stop in Iowa on Tuesday. Trump, who had not called on Ramos to ask a question, yelled at him to “Go back to Univision,” and then Trump’s security ushered Ramos out of the room before later allowing him to return to ask his question. In a television interview on Wednesday, Trump called Ramos’s actions “absolutely out of line,” while Ramos responded on Twitter by saying “I’m a reporter. My job is to ask questions.” Also on Wednesday, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists issued a statement saying the group “condemns” Trump for ejecting Ramos from the campaign event.
This isn’t Trump’s first clash with Univision, against whom he filed a $500 million lawsuit earlier this summer when the Spanish-language network cut ties with him after he called Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists.” Univision, which was just one of many corporate partners to sever its relationship with Trump in the wake of his derogatory comments, cancelled plans to air the Miss USA beauty pageant, which is owned by Trump.
While nearly all U.S. media outlets have bulked up their Trump coverage since he declared his candidacy, the billionaire’s opinions on immigration have been a particular focus of the Latino media, with the New York Times reporting that nearly 80% of Spanish-language news mentions of Trump in the past month have hinged on the immigration topic, while mentions of him in general have had more of a negative tinge from Spanish-language media than with English-language outlets.
So, whether more Latino journalists follow Ramos’s lead and are openly critical of Trump and his campaign, or others opt for a more objective approach, it would seem that Trump and his divisive opinions on immigration will continue to be a focal point for Latino media as long as he maintains his lead in the Republican field.
How much can a feud with the Latino media hurt Trump? Hispanics represent the largest minority in the U.S., with roughly 54 million people making up 17% of the country’s population. A record 25.2 million Hispanic voters were eligible to cast a ballot in the 2014 midterm elections, making up 11% of the country’s total electorate, though low voter turnout meant that Hispanics made up about 8% of total voters that year. Meanwhile, Spanish-language broadcasters Univision and Telemundo reach roughly 2 million viewers combined every night, while their websites get nearly 10 million monthly unique visitors.
It would seem that Trump’s own campaign recognizes the importance of making nice with the Latino media as his campaign moves forward. Politico reported last week that a Trump Organization executive reached out to the head of the National Hispanic Media Coalition to propose a meeting with the billionaire. (That was before a new Gallup poll released this week showed that 65% of Hispanic voters claim to have a negative view of Trump while only 14% seem him positively.)
At the same time, some pundits have pointed out that Hispanic voters were never likely to lend much support to Trump, much less any other GOP candidate backing strict immigration reform, so it’s possible a contentious relationship with Latino media won’t hurt a Trump campaign that has already lost out on the Hispanic vote.