Despite his lucrative career as a political commentator, Bill O’Reilly thinks Fusion host Jorge Ramos should play the impartial journalist when it comes to Donald Trump’s proposal to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants.
On “The O’Reilly Factor” Wednesday, the Fox host asked Ramos, "How can you possibly cover immigration fairly when you're a proponent of allowing them amnesty?"
"You should excuse yourself from it or recuse yourself from it," he added.
While it is indeed a reporter’s job to be truthful and fair, Ramos told O'Reilly that it’s unethical to sit idly by in the face of injustice.
“Sometimes, as a reporter, you have to take a stand when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorships and human rights,” he shot back. “What Donald Trump is doing is very dangerous. He’s proposing the largest mass deportation in recent history. And who’s going to challenge him?”
“That’s our job as reporters,” Ramos added.
As I’ve written before, it’s hard, if not impossible, for any reporter to be “objective” -- all journalists bring a worldview to their work. The idea that journalists should be impartial is an invention of corporate media, which requires reporters not to take any stand that would ruffle the feathers of advertisers or limit one’s audience.
But "he said, she said" journalism has the ultimate effect of letting those in power off the hook. In the interest of impartiality, scores of “objective” journalists at legacy media outlets have simply reported on Trump’s proposal to deport the entire undocumented population without noting that it would cost between $420 and $620 billion over 20 years, and shrink our GDP by $1.6 trillion. Few but Ramos have challenged Trump on the disastrous proposal.
Journalists who simply transmit information are of less and less use in the age of social media, when politicians can communicate directly with the public and the Internet gives anyone a platform. The role of news organizations is to add value and contextualize news. At the most basic level, that means challenging politicians on ludicrous proposals and standing up for human rights, as Ramos does.