The White House Press Briefing Room Might Become A Hostile Place For Hispanic Journalists
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
President-elect Donald Trump is considering Laura Ingraham, a Fox News contributor and conservative radio talk show host, as a possible choice for White House press secretary. If he picks her, it would be Ingraham’s job to brief the White House press corps on behalf of the Trump administration, and the attacks she’s launched against Hispanic journalists and Spanish-language media would make the White House briefing room a very hostile place for Hispanic journalists.
On November 13, The Hill reported that Ingraham was “under serious consideration” to be the press secretary of Trump’s White House, an indication that the contempt Trump showed for the press during his campaign will percolate into his administration, since Ingraham has her own history of railing against journalists whose reporting she doesn’t agree with.
During her crusade against “biased,” “post-American” journalism, Ingraham has singled out Hispanic media specifically, taking offense that Telemundo and Univision are “Hispanic-centric” networks which “revile the American experience” and have a “toxic” impact. The networks are extremely valuable for many Spanish-speakers who rely on them to better “navigate America,” but Ingraham has accused them of “teaching illegals how to avoid deportation” and of preventing people from learning English.
Ingraham has also taken issue with Hispanic journalists merely for speaking Spanish, once criticizing Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart for translating for a Spanish-speaking guest and mocking his accent by saying it was “so herky-jerky.” Ingraham has been critical of multilingualism in the United States, extending her mockery on Twitter to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) for his command of Spanish and criticizing retail workers who speak English with an accent, saying, “You can’t understand them. Sometimes you think you’re in a foreign country.” Any member of the press corp who sounds similar could be subjected to the same level of mockery and disdain from a press secretary Ingraham.
Covering the Trump campaign was especially challenging for Hispanic media, since the president-elect showed particular animosity toward the main Spanish-language networks and consistently ignored requests from Spanish-language print outlets seeking access — an approach in line with his “English-only” strategy of seeking electoral victory by courting primarily white voters. Picking Ingraham as press secretary would demonstrate that Trump has little interest in diverging from this campaign strategy while governing.