Univision anchor Jorge Ramos and Al Jazeera English senior political analyst Marwan Bishara lashed out after their networks were left out of President Obama’s media blitz, writing that the president was leaving Hispanics and Arabs out of the Syria crisis debate.
The anointed anchors were all smiles — PBS anchor Gwen Ifill tweeted a photo (above) of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, with his arms around ABC’s Diane Sawyer and NBC’s Savannah Guthrie while Ifill, CBS’ Scott Pelley and Fox News’ Chris Wallace beamed for the camera — while Ramos and Bishara made their displeasure known.
“Pres. Obama gives 6 interviews today. None of those to Univision. Why? Hispanics also care about Syria. Same mistake as presidential debates,” Ramos tweeted on Monday. He added: “150,000+ Latinos are serving in the U.S. military. But none of the 6 interviews given today by Obama include Univision #LessonsNOTlearned.”
Univision followed that up with a statement reading, in part: “The U.S. Hispanic community has the right to be well informed and receive all the news and information they need from the news source they trust the most. It’s disappointing to see the lack of interest to reach our audience on this important issue.”
MSNBC and Al Jazeera America were also left off the interview list, though MSNBC’s sister station NBC was invited and Al Jazeera America might just be too new and too little-watched to make the cut. Al Jazeera English, while much more established internationally, no longer airs in the United States as its American cousin tries to gain a foothold in the crowded cable news market.
That didn’t stop Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera English’s senior political analyst, from giving his opinion on the network’s website on Sunday.
“There’s only one major network that reaches the majority of Arabs and Muslims and others in the greater Middle East,” he wrote. “If President Obama reckons it’s important to speak to six US networks, then talking to Al Jazeera – Arabic and English channels – is paramount for any future action in Syria.”
Univision, on the other hand, has been bolstered recently by a summer of ratings successes. It beat the Big Four broadcast networks in the coveted 18-49 demo in July, for example. Its snub by the administration, then, is more auspicious. Obama has appeared on the channel in the past — in 2012, for example, when he and Republican election challenger Mitt Romney were fighting for the Hispanic vote.
The White House did not respond to request for comment on how the decision of which networks to include was reached.