Donald Trump hasn’t done an interview with a Spanish language news network in 14 months, magnifying a dangerous rift between the Republican Party and networks like Univision and Telemundo.
The last time Trump sat down for an interview with a Spanish language news network was in June 2015. Trump had just launched his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists,” and Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart was ready for him. Díaz-Balart grilled Trump on his comments, using statistics to debunk his fearmongering about immigrants and asking “is this what you think of the Latino community in the United States?”
Since then, Trump has essentially declared war on Telemundo and Univision, the two largest Spanish speaking news networks in the country.
He filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision after the network dropped its coverage of Trump’s Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. When Univision’s Jorge Ramos sent Trump a handwritten letter asking for an interview, Trump published the letter -- along with Ramos’ personal cellphone number -- and mocked the network for “begging” him for an interview.
At a July 2015 press conference, Trump shouted down Díaz-Balart after being asked again about his immigration comments, calling the question a “typical case of the press with misinterpretation” and saying “Telemundo should be ashamed.” In August 2015, Trump infamously threw Jorge Ramos out of a press conference, telling Ramos to “go back to Univision.” His campaign went on to deny press credentials to an Univision correspondent in October 2015.
The standoff has continued into 2016, with the Trump campaign denying the networks’ repeated requests for interviews and even taunting Ramos’ interview requests by soliciting him for a campaign donation.
The lack of outreach to Spanish speakers goes beyond just interviews -- Politico noted that Trump’s “English-only campaign” has failed to create a Spanish-language version of Trump’s website or purchase any Spanish-language ads.
But the problem extends beyond Trump. RNC officials are growing increasingly skeptical of their relationship with Spanish-language networks. For the first time in 3 election cycles, Republicans didn’t have a presidential forum hosted by Univision. And the RNC tried to pull the plug on a Telemundo Republican primary debate, citing concerns about fairness. Telemundo eventually joined with CNN to host a Republican debate, during which Trump answered a question about his support with Latino voters by declaring “I don’t believe anything Telemundo says.”
Given how anti-immigrant extremism -- has come to define the GOP front runner’s campaign, it’s not surprising that Trump has avoided contact with Spanish-language news networks. But blacklisting Spanish news networks means not talking to a huge chunk of American voters and setting a troubling precedent for Republicans who want to avoid answering tough questions.