U.S. Senator Ted Cruz reportedly believes that political reporter Mark Halperin would find himself on the unemployment line if similarly controversial identity questions were directed at President Obama.
The Cruz perspective on Halperin’s attempted gotcha interview was published by the Independent Journal Review.
On a show ironically called With All Due Respect, Halperin, also an MSNBC regular, thought it necessary to address a series of demeaning questions to the Texas Senator and GOP presidential candidate that probed his Cuban heritage and identity.
The Bloomberg TV interview that originally aired on April 30 seemed to fly under the radar until syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette — who described the discussion as nauseating among other things — brought it to the attention of the internet. The subsequent Twitter outrage against Halperin that raised implications of racism and media bias caused the hashtag #Halperinquestions to trend for hours at a time on Sunday.
Criticism of the self-appointed “ethnic authenticity cop” bridged the ideological spectrum. Liberal website Think Progress, for example, 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. Similarly, liberal/progressive Salon headlined Halperin as the “media clown for the ages.”
Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore, the host of The Nightly Show, quipped that it was a “literal Spanish inquisition.”
On Monday, Halperin issued a written (but not broadcast) apology in which he claimed that “In no way was I asking Senator Cruz to ‘prove’ he was an ‘authentic’ Latino.”
This announcement was followed up later that afternoon by a Facebook posting by Ted Cruz, which took the journalist off the hook and which indicated that he wasn’t offended by Halperin’s line of questioning.
“Not only does Halperin look awful in this whole episode, but Cruz comes off as a gracious and thick-skinned politician,” the Washington Post declared.
In remarks to the IJR last night, Cruz was perhaps less diplomatic about the encounter, classifying Halperin’s questions as “silly” and “ridiculous,” although not necessarily requiring an apology. The inquiry was evidence of a deeper problem in his view, however.
“Well [the questions] certainly were not fair… Imagine if [Halperin] had asked Obama these same questions? He would have been run out of the industry… The media is a disaster and this is a perfect example of their double standards.”
Cruz also observed that news outlets are very interested in probing into his background, but seemed entirely uncurious about the background of the incumbent president when he was a candidate.
In a follow-up column about the Cruz “interrogation” in which he described Halperin’s apology as “half-hearted,” Ruben Navarrette observed that some Beltway journalists apparently have difficulties processing the idea of a Hispanic Republican on the national stage.
“With Halperin firing off at Cruz superficial questions about his favorite Cuban dishes or Cuban music, and then pressing him for specifics, it’s no wonder that so many people described the exchange as ‘tacky,’ ‘ignorant’ or ‘racist.’ It was all three of those things. It also was a teaching moment that tells us some important and troubling things about the media, politics and Latinos — and how they all intersect — especially during a presidential year when there are two viable Latino candidates and both are Republicans… It’s hard to imagine that a Latino Democrat would ever be treated so shabbily…”
Added Investor’s Business Daily about the Ted Cruz-Mark Halperin encounter, “It seems the mainstream media…are still unable to get their heads around the idea of a black or Latino running for office who isn’t a lockstep Democrat.”
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