Immigration 'brownout' fuels media's trek to irrelevance
Oh, here and there, you'll find a few Latino faces on television -- Fox News contributor Steve Cortes and CNN contributors Ana Navarro and Maria Cardona among them. But their views are often predictable, and fall in line with what producers are expecting when they book them.
Believe it or not, the nation's 58 million Latinos -- representing America's largest minority -- are complicated. They're not as one-dimensional as you would think from hearing the extreme views of a handful of pundits on cable news.
It may make for good television to have Fox News host Tucker Carlson -- who has abandoned what used to be moderate views and morphed into one of the most openly anti-immigrant voices on television -- bicker with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, an activist impersonating a journalist who seems comfortable with the idea of an open border and zero deportations. But the debate - and the nation - gain nothing.
A Latino policy analyst, and former television commentator, told me the media brownout is a result of producers, bookers and editors not having enough colors in their crayon boxes.
"This is a black-and-white world," he said. "There is no room for us. I blame white liberals for that, because they're the ones who run the media. It's to the black community that they feel their strongest connection because that's where they feel their greatest guilt -- over how blacks have been treated."
It doesn't help that Latinos, he said, are used to being ignored, neglected and passed over. So we don't make a fuss.
"We were taught growing up to go along to get along," he said. "We're a quiet, hardworking group that you don't notice when you walk into a room. We're cleaning up, and serving drinks. But guess what? They'll sure notice us when we're gone."
That's not bad. But I have another theory: When it comes to the media, Latinos are trapped in a Catch-22. A lot of the people who decide who goes on the air, or onto newspaper op-ed pages, think that Latinos can only talk about immigration. Of course, they also think we're not so good at talking about immigration because we're too close to the subject, too emotional and too biased. We can't win either way.
Thus, Americans can expect the brownout to continue for a while longer, along with traditional media's gradual descent into the darkness of total irrelevance.
Ruben Navarrette's email address is email@example.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.
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