Bloomberg political reporter Mark Halperin today issued an apology to Ted Cruz for posing interview questions that many branded as racist and an example of liberal media bias.
Twitter was underwhelmed with the Halperin apology, however, which was released in written form to the internet but not delivered on live television.
For some reason, on a TV show ironically called With All Due Respect, Halperin, also an MSNBC regular, thought it necessary to address a series of questions to the Texas Senator and GOP presidential candidate that probed his Cuban heritage and identity. Halperin specifically asked the lawmaker about whether he self-identified as Hispanic on college applications and what kind of Cuban food and Cuban music he enjoys. The Bloomberg reporter then asked Cruz to welcome declared presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (an independent socialist from Vermont who is entering the Democrat primary) to the 2016 campaign in Spanish.
Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette blew the whistle on the interview, which subsequently caused Halperin to be ridiculed and deemed a racist across social media.
As a result of the Halperin-Cruz encounter, #Halperinquestions was a hashtag that trended all day yesterday on Twitter.
Admitting that the interview made him nauseous, columnist Navarrette wrote in part that "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."
In a callback to the iconic TV sitcom I Love Lucy, Navarrette also observed that "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."
About the April 30 Q&A, Navarrette suggested to Business Insider that "the interview would have come to light earlier if it involved a conservative pundit questioning a liberal rather than a more mainstream reporter like Halperin."
He also noted that "Like other Latino journalists, I have special antenna for these kinds of stories, and — unlike many of my more liberal Latino colleagues — no reluctance to criticize those on the left as readily as I do those on the right." Navarrette claimed that "... the mostly liberal press full of NY/DC media insiders many of whom are, in this case, clubby with Halperin... [were] not eager to bring this episode to light."
Liberal website Think Progress, however, deemed Halperin, who holds the title of Bloomberg Politics co-managing editor, the winner of a mythical prize for the most racist interview of a 2016 presidential candidate. "Whatever drove Halperin to grill Cruz about his Cuban bona fides, however, Halperin's critics are right to lay into him. Ted Cruz should be judged based on whether his policies will help or harm voters, not based on whether he can name his favorite Cuban musician."
Likely prompted by the social media backlash against the offensive line of questions, Mark Halperin released the following statement about the Ted Cruz interview.
"We wanted to talk with Senator Cruz about his outreach to Latino voters the day after he spoke at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. My intent was to give the Senator a chance to speak further about his heritage and personal connections to the community through some casual questions. I rushed through the questions, and that was a mistake — it led to poor tone and timing. I also understand why some felt the questions were inappropriate. As for asking Senator Cruz to welcome Senator Sanders to the race in Spanish, that was meant to be the type of light-hearted banter that he's done with us before on the show. In no way was I asking Senator Cruz to 'prove' he was an 'authentic' Latino. I apologize to those that were offended, and to Senator Cruz. I promise that I will work to make the tone and questions better next time."
"Today [Halperin] kindly issued an apology for some silly questions he asked me in an interview. The apology was unnecessary -- no offense was taken, nor, I believe, intended -- but is certainly appreciated. I'm proud of my Cuban heritage, my father's journey from oppression and prison in Cuba to freedom in America, and also my Irish-Italian heritage on my mother's side. Both are integral parts of who I am today..."
As alluded to above, Twitter was not as forgiving of Mark Halperin.