On Wednesday morning’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough excoriated Univision anchor Jorge Ramos for getting himself ejected from a Donald Trump press conference, accusing the most famous Spanish-language journalist in the country of trying to snag his “15 minutes of fame.” Scarborough, co-host Willie Geist, and MSNBC reporter Kasie Hunt raised questions about Ramos’ conduct at the press conference. Although Hunt did express displeasure that Ramos was removed, she also credited Trump for allowing Ramos to return and ask questions:
Scarborough: “What was happening was the other guy was answering a question when this guy started going…people are sick and tired of reporters standing up and yelling questions, in this case, where he was clearly yelling questions out of turn.”
Geist: “I don’t like to see any journalist hauled out of a room like that physically, but there’s a way press conferences work.”
Hunt: “On the one hand you’re right. I’ve been in hundreds of these types of press conferences. Often you get to know the politician you’re asking questions of whether they like to call on people, or whether it is a question of who yells the loudest… I think that all of us have to decide how we’re going to conduct ourselves in those rooms.”
The criticisms offered here are quite clear. Ramos interrupted another reporter, and yelling questions out of turn, and even though he shouldn’t have been thrown out, there’s a way press conferences work, and Jorge Ramos should have known better.
As it turns out, I’ve also been to hundreds of press conferences, some of them with Kasie Hunt, and that’s not at all how press conferences work. Even in a setting with well-known conventions, like a White House daily briefing, reporters are constantly yelling out questions without being called on, and while it doesn’t always work, there’s about a 20% success rate. The rest of the time, nobody is ejected, and hardly anyone ever faints from the breach of protocol, because it isn’t one.
But more to the point, that’s not even how this press conference worked. First of all, Jorge Ramos didn’t interrupt anyone. Trump began his presser by introducing Rick Perry ship-jumper Sam Clovis, and in between Clovis’ brief appearance and Trump’s retaking of the podium, Jorge Ramos tried to get a question in. There was no yelling, only an appropriately firm tone. In fact, as Ramos is being ejected for not interrupting anyone, another reporter is interrupting Trump to shout a question, without being called on, about Megyn Kelly:
“If it’s so small, why do you keep bringing it up?”
It was only after several reporters pressed Trump for ejecting Ramos (the mysterious “security” guy who took Ramos out was Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller) that Trump relented and allowed Ramos to return, but see if you notice anything about the first reporter to ask Trump about it:
Donald Trump didn’t call on that guy either, and yet he wasn’t ejected, nor was he subjected to any criticism from Scarborough, Giest, or Hunt. Seems like press conferences work one way for Jorge Ramos, and another way for other, non-Ramos reporters.
Next, Trump lies right to Kasie Hunt’s face about Ramos interrupting another reporter’s question (which Hunt was sitting right there for), and agrees to let him return:
Both Geist and Hunt credit Trump for eventually taking Ramos’ questions, but without noting that this was clearly a result of Kasie Hunt’s shaming of Trump. Then, Trump has an exchange with Ramos that lasts several minutes, mainly because Donald Trump keeps interrupting Jorge Ramos:
Trump even called on Jorge Ramos a second time, continued to interrupt him, and then took a question from yet another reporter who yelled out a question without being called on:
Scarborough’s other criticism, that Jorge Ramos wasn’t asking a question, but rather was giving a lecture, should also have been self-evidently false to Kasie Hunt, who has surely seen other reporters deliver long setups to questions, and engage in extended volleys with their news subjects. Ramos wound up sparring with Trump for a total of about eight minutes, mostly because Trump kept interrupting him. At the White House, we call that “every TV reporter ever, every day.”
Scarborough and company are right about one thing, though: This is how press conferences work for most reporters, but it’s definitely not how press conferences work for Jorge Ramos, for whatever reason. Joe Scarborough’s biases are apparent, but Kasie Hunt should have had Ramos’ back, and told the MJ crew that the Univision star did absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
Update: There appears to be some confusion, on Twitter, about the chronology of Jorge Ramos’ first question, with many people under the impression that he jumped in right at the beginning, before anyone had had a chance to ask questions. That’s because the cable networks joind the presser in progress, but as the video below shows, Ramos was actually the third questioner, and as noted earlier, he didn’t interrupt. He tried to get his question in as Sam Clovis was relinquishing the podium back to Trump:
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