AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
In this country, presidential candidate Donald Trump is known for his blunt talk on immigration. He's called undocumented Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, among other things, and that's brought him head-to-head with Spanish-language media. Jorge Ramos, one of the most influential Latino journalists in America, was physically removed from a Donald Trump press conference in Iowa last night. Ramos was pressing Trump to answer a question.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JORGE RAMOS: (Unintelligible).
DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me. Sit down. You weren't called. Sit down.
RAMOS: No, no, no...
TRUMP: Sit down. Sit down. Go ahead.
RAMOS: I have the right to ask a question.
TRUMP: No, you don't. You haven't been called.
RAMOS: I have the right to ask a question.
TRUMP: Go back to Univision.
CORNISH: Ramos was then escorted out of the room by Trump's security guards and later let back in. NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us to talk about this more. And this has been simmering for a while, right? What's the back story here?
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Well, the back story is two-fold, in some ways. Ramos has been a real critic of Trump's proposal to setup an enormous wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to get rid of 11 million people who are here without legal immigration status. He says it's not only untenable in detail, but it's not plausible. It can't work.
And secondly, after Trump had taken strong stance on immigration in this way, Univision, Ramos's employer, cut ties with Trump and his Miss Universe organization. And Trump is now suing Univision to the tune of $500 million. So there's both an ideological fissure here between the nation's largest Spanish-language network and Trump and also a real commercial confrontation as well.
CORNISH: When Ramos was let back into the news conference, he and Donald Trump did spar a bit over immigration. And Ramos has said that he's taken a personal offense to parts of Trump's immigration plan. What makes this personal for him?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, Jorge Ramos was born in Mexico City. And he came to this country because he felt that, as a young journalist, that stories at times offensive to authorities were smothered there. And he came here and found more voice, and he found more freedom to report on things without what he considered to be censorship.
So he started out in local TV in Los Angeles. He currently works in Miami for Univision, the Spanish-language network, and its sister channel, Fusion, a joint venture with ABC, which is in the English, intended to reach younger viewers. Ramos has, you know, really attained quite a rank as an anchor here. And so he feels a man of two countries, both Mexico and the U.S.
CORNISH: We talked about him being influential. Does that influence expand beyond those Spanish-speaking Americans?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, it's his opinion that the road to the White House has to go through the Latino vote in either major party. And as a result, he feels that the major candidates have to come through Univision and have to talk to him about the issues that are important to Latinos, whether they be Spanish-speaking or English-speaking. And so, you know, in 2012, Ramos had sit-down interviews with Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, the Democratic nominee, President Obama, and he expects a certain degree of respect and, if not, deference because of the role that his viewers will play in the election.
CORNISH: Meanwhile, how has Spanish-language media responded to this?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, this clash with Donald Trump, last night in particular, enraged people. I was looking on Twitter online last night and this morning, and you saw political and media figures - liberal and conservative who are Latino themselves - react with dismay. They can hear - you know, go back to Univision sounds a little bit like go back to where you're from to them, and you can understand that, given the issue that has sparked this confrontation.
Similarly, you know, Trump has been hostile or at least pretty annoyed at tough questioning from others. If you think of Jose Diaz-Balart, who's a chief anchor at the rival Telemundo Network and also on MSNBC, you know, he was very dismissive of a certain line of questioning that also honed in on gaps in what Trump has had to offer. So Trump is appealing to a core of conservative voters who are very much against illegal immigration. He's not appealing to the Latino vote through these major Latino outlets.
CORNISH: That's NPR's media correspondent, David Folkenflik. David, thanks so much.
FOLKENFLIK: You bet.
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