An earlier version of this article appeared on the Huffington Post.
MSNBC is making changes to its morning lineup, and Latinos have plenty of reason to be concerned.
A few weeks ago, Mediaite reported on how the cable news network would seek to reshuffle its morning programming in order to expand Morning Joe, hosted by former Republican Representative Joe Scarborough, to a four-hour block in preparation for 2016.
One notable causality to emerge from these moves is current 9-11 a.m. anchor José Díaz-Balart. With Morning Joe going to 10 a.m., Tamron Hall will then take over the 10-12 noon slot, thereby leaving Mr. Díaz-Balart as the odd man out.
So what then would become of José Díaz-Balart’s current show The Rundown? The answer is not clear yet.
At a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is brewing, thanks in part to the rhetoric coming out of Donald Trump’s campaign and supporters, it is journalists like José Díaz-Balart who provide fair and balanced coverage on issues that are of relevance and importance to Latinos and immigrants.
Yet, MSNBC is pushing to make the move — and upsetting many high-profile Latinos and viewers alike.
Hector Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and Alex Nogales, the president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, have signed a letter addressed to NBC News and MSNBC about Mr. Diaz-Balart’s future in the network:
“In light of our recent meeting where we were assured that more Latino representation would be a priority for the network, any changes to minimize or eliminate José Díaz-Balart’s two-hour show will be [met] with strong organizational opposition.”
Meanwhile, opposition to MSNBC’s possible cancellation of The Rundown is growing. A MoveOn.org petition has already gathered over 3,500 signatures, with many users voicing their concerns and displeasement with MSNBC’s move. The hashtag #MásJosé has also seen a fair amount of use on Twitter, while MSNBC remains silent about its plans for José Díaz-Balart’s show.
Having built his career at Telemundo, José Díaz-Balart has demonstrated that he is willing to go above and beyond his duty as a journalist. Before Jorge Ramos, another respected journalist within the Spanish-language media, was ejected from a Donald Trump press conference and consequently insulted by one of his supporters, it was Jose Diaz-Balart who was asking the tough questions on immigration to Donald Trump.
When President Obama’s executive actions on immigration were met with delays and criticism from Republicans, it was José Díaz-Balart who hosted him in Miami for a townhall discussion that sought to reassure our community about the DACA and DAPA programs.
Should MSNBC push ahead with their currently proposed schedule and effectively push José Díaz-Balart’s show off the air, it will send a strong message to Latinos, immigrants and its current viewership, that there is no place for their only Latino anchorman.
Perhaps the network should take a look at its current pundits and programming, some of whom have taken their shows as a platform to provide cover for Donald Trump — while others claim that people who use the term “undocumented immigrant” don’t care about immigration.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month. Right, MSNBC?