WTF: Mark Halperin’s #NoMames Ted Cruz Interview About Senator’s ‘Cubanness’

May 11, 2015
11:14 AM

Before we share the following interview that’s been floating around the Internet for the past few days, we are wondering if Mark Halperin would ever ask a African American candidate a series of questions like the ones he asked Cruz. Let’s be real here for a second: Ted Cruz is of Cuban descent. You might not like his policies or his stances, but he is still of Cuban descent. (He’s also Canadian, if you want to get technical.) What Halperin did is not only worthy of a #NoMames, but he should also be called out (and called out hard) for his incredibly pretentious, elitist and bigoted attitude. This piece has more context.

Was Halperin being a bigoted journalist here? Yes. Should he answer to this, explain his thinking and own it? Yes. Will U.S. Latinos even care that this type of questioning is really uncalled for? Let’s hope so. Also, Mark, if you are going to talk “on español” you better know how to say “en español.”

And seriously, like we said previously, imagine if Halperin asked these types of question to an African American candidate. What’s your favorite dish? What’s your favorite music? You know exactly what would happen.

One more thing: Cruz’s policies might not mesh with the majority of U.S. Latino voters (understatement of the year), but his family is from Cuba and that makes him a U.S. Latino, whether you have issue with it or not. And what Halperin did on this interview was insulting. It proves that the mainstream Anglo media still treats U.S. Latinos like second-class people. We would love to ask Halperin a few questions of our own.

And yeah, we understand that we are defending Cruz of all people, because yeah, we know that many U.S. Latino voters do have issues with him (and we do too), but still… who made Mark Halperin the arbiter? There are right ways to address this and wrong ways. Halperin clearly chose the wrong way and other journalists need to hold him accountable for it. The question is: will they?

UPDATE: At 1:43pmET today on Twitter, Halperin issued a statement:

We wanted to talk with Senator Cruz about his outreach to Latino voters the day after he spoke at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. My intent was to give the Senator a chance to speak further about his heritage and personal connections to the community through some casual questions. I rushed through the questions, and that was a mistake—it led to poor tone and timing. I also understand why some felt the questions were inappropriate. As for asking Senator Cruz to welcome Senator Sanders to the race in Spanish, that was meant to be the type of light-hearted banter that he’s done with us before on the show. In no way was I asking Senator Cruz to “prove” he was an “authentic” Latino. I apologize to those that were offended, and to Senator Cruz. I promise that I will work to make the tone and questions better next time.

The apology really doesn’t get at the real issue here. And the fact that Halperin doesn’t see it, says a lot about what is wrong with the U.S. mainstream political media.