Look, I get the fact that Ted Cruz is not everyone’s cup of tea, and that in particular, there are a number of journalists who are thoroughly un-enamored of the junior senator from Texas. But if you are a journalist who wishes to challenge Cruz, or at least, to offer the news-consuming public some interesting and informative fare, there are some things that one must not do.
Engaging in crude stereotypes about Cuban people is on the Do-Not-Do list. And amazingly enough, no one told Mark Halperin:
Watching Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics interview Cruz recently, I wasn’t just uncomfortable. I was actually nauseated.As a journalist, I felt embarrassed for Halperin. As a Hispanic, I felt like I was watching a college fraternity have fun with racial stereotypes, like when staging a “border party” where people show up in serapes and fake mustaches. And as someone who doesn’t adhere to a party line to the point where I’ve been accused of being a “coconut” (white on the inside, brown on the outside), I was furious enough to — as Sarah Palin once said approvingly about Cruz — chew barbed wire and spit out rust.
The online interview show that Halperin co-hosts on BloombergPolitics.com is called “With All Due Respect.” But there was nothing respectful about the line of questioning. It started off innocently enough with Halperin asking the 2016 GOP presidential candidate about whether he thinks Hispanics will vote for him. He also mentioned a speech that Cruz had given to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and gave Cruz the chance to explain his argument that Republican economic policies help Hispanics.
Nothing wrong with that. But then Halperin made it personal, and the interview careened into a ditch. He told Cruz that people are curious about his “identity.” Then, the host asked a series of questions intended to establish his guest’s Hispanic bona fides. What kind of Cuban food did Cruz like to eat growing up? And what sort of Cuban music does Cruz listen to even now?
I’ve known Ted for more than a decade and I could tell he was uncomfortable. But he played along, listing various kinds of Cuban food and saying that his musical taste veers more toward country.I kept waiting for Halperin to ask Cruz to play the conga drums like Desi Arnaz while dancing salsa and sipping cafe con leche — all to prove the Republican is really Cuban.
Just when I thought I’d seen the worst, it got even more offensive. Earlier that day, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, had entered the presidential race. So, Halperin said: “I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.”
Are people going to get fired over this? Because they should be.