Jorge Ramos vs. Donald Trump: How to confront the "New Reality"

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Jorge Ramos vs. Donald Trump: How to confront the "New Reality"
Jorge Ramos vs. Donald Trump: How to confront the "New Reality"
7 December 2020, 09:45SocietyPhoto: nytimes.com
American journalist Jorge Ramos was honored to be expelled from Donald Trump's press conference for uncomfortable questions. The "new normal" that Donald Trump has established is good for his ratings, but damaging to democracy and civil society. There is only one way out - to defend freedom of speech.

American journalist Jorge Ramos talks in an NYT column about Donald Trump's memorable press conference during his 2015 presidential campaign. She showed with great clarity who Trump really was - a dangerous populist, an enemy of immigrants and a man who poses a danger to democracy and free speech. Some journalists understood this from the start, but as support for Trump began to grow, journalists and politicians made their own way to the White House for him.

The Ramos-Trump feud began months before that memorable press conference when Trump descended the escalator in the Trump Tower in New York and delivered a keynote speech in which he called Mexican migrants "criminals and rapists". Such statements were simply unacceptable for a journalist, and Ramos wrote to Trump and asked for an interview. Instead of an interview, Jorge read a post on Instagram where Trump put his request on public display with all personal data, including phone numbers. After that, the journalist received hundreds of hate calls and messages, after which he had to change his phone number.

The denouement came at a press conference in Iowa. The journalist raised his hand and said that he would like to ask a question. Ramos started asking a question about immigration, but Trump defiantly turned his back and gave the floor to another journalist. Ramos continued to speak. "Sit down!" Trump ordered the journalist 4 times. The latter continued his speech. “You weren’t called”, - Trump told him. “Get out on your Univision (the Mexican broadcaster Ramos worked for).” It was a more polite form of Trump's favorite expression "get out where you came from." After that, Trump waved his hand to the guard, and the journalist was immediately pushed out of the hall. Ramos told the guard not to touch him, and that he, as a journalist, has the right to ask politicians any questions. In the foyer, a Trump supporter echoed a rougher version of Trump's “Get out of here,” without knowing the journalist was a US citizen. Anger is contagious. Of all the many journalists who attended that press conference, only two reporters from MSNBC and ABC supported a colleague. After some time, Ramos managed to return to the hall and ask Trump his questions. David Gergen, a presidential adviser, told the NYT that Ramos' performance in Iowa was the highlight of that presidential campaign.

After this scene, several journalists expressed their solidarity with Jorge Ramos, but nothing could stop the obsessive coverage of Trump's company. This attention to his person made Trump's rude, aggressive and xenophobic behavior normal. Some members of the press fascinated Trump, others thought he would change. Journalists attributed such increased attention to the person of Trump by the fact that "Trump is who he is, and we should cover everything he says, regardless of what he says." However, everything Trump said was fundamentally opposed to the idea embodied in the Declaration of Independence - the American Constitution. Trump insisted that he would build a wall between Mexico and the United States, and Mexico would pay for it. He announced that he would close all mosques in the country in order to overcome the Islamic State (banned in the Russian Federation - "NO"). Neither these nor other statements by this candidate should have come as a surprise, considering that it was Trump in 2011 who claimed that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. However, journalists continued to fanatically cover Donald Trump's campaign and broadcast all of his statements without criticism or appropriate comments. All of this contributed to Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election. What the presidency will be, and how Trump will behave, it was already clear in 2015. Some journalists, especially those who previously worked in Latin America and covered dictatorial and authoritarian regimes, clearly saw this dynamic, but it was not enough.

The "new normal" boosted Trump's ratings, but it was dangerous to democracy and civil society. President Trump attacked journalists as a presidential candidate. He continued the same line when he became president and called entire editions "enemies of the people".

In four years of chaos and convulsions in the White House, Trump has separated thousands of children and their parents at borders, while forgetting to condemn the idea of white supremacy in the country, says Jorge Ramos. But he managed to get three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, cementing the influence of conservatives in the country for many years. But all overshadowed the 270 thousand deaths from the coronavirus and 14 million infected, including due to the irresponsible actions of the authorities during the pandemic.

There has never been tyranny in the United States, the journalist recalls. The built system of checks and balances has protected the country for two and a half centuries. Nevertheless, Jorge Ramos saw crowds of cheering people on the streets of Washington and other American cities after Donald Trump's defeat was announced, and these scenes reminded him of Nicaragua in the 90s, when the Sandinista regime fell, or Mexico in the early 2000s, when it was overthrown. "Ideal dictatorship" that ruled the country for 71 years.

These were the holidays of liberation flavored with revenge - the country got rid of the tyrant who had long dominated public life. It seemed that the burden of people had dropped from their shoulders.

Jorge Ramos believes that journalists should have been tougher towards Trump and not let him spread lies and aggression. We shouldn't have forgiven him for racism and xenophobia, the journalist says. Journalists should no longer allow anyone to create an alternative reality and come to power with its help. Ramos suggests a pandemic is to blame for Trump's non-re-election. But such rule could have been avoided if society paid more attention and more resistance to the words and actions of an unworthy person who descended the golden escalator in 2015.

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