NAHJ President On Returning Fox News Money
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is giving back money. The organization is returning more than $16,000 because it's from Fox News. NAHJ President Hugo Balta announced the decision and joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.
HUGO BALTA: Thank you very much for having me.
SIMON: Fox News - the nation's most-watched cable news network, as they say all the time. And it has been a sponsor of NAHJ for years. Why is their money suddenly no good?
BALTA: Well, the decision really isn't about one particular instance, although I would say the words by Fox Nation - Todd Starnes - were the tip of the iceberg. But really...
SIMON: What were those words? I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we should know that.
BALTA: Sure. He last week likened the immigrants coming to the United States to Nazi Germany invading Western Europe, but it's not just about that particular categorization of migrants. But it's also that no one at Fox News management is checking in and really holding people accountable.
SIMON: What about the response Fox has made for a number of years now that they have solid, honest reporters who do a good job on the news side, and what you're talking about is their personality-driven talk shows?
BALTA: Opinion and commentary is an extension of the news department, so it's still under the management, the leadership, the editorial focus of that news entity. We're not saying that it's NAHJ's place to tell Fox or any other media to either move to the left or to the right - liberal, conservative. We're saying have the discussion. Have the debate. But let it be on a foundation of facts and truth. And the example that I used with Fox when we met this week and when we've met previously is - I cannot tell you at 12:00 Eastern Time in New York that night is day and day is night and say that is the truth because it is my opinion, when it could be factually proven that I'm incorrect.
SIMON: What was that meeting like, Mr. Balta?
BALTA: You know, that meeting was uncomfortable. A lot of heads nodding and note writing but disingenuous because we've had those types of meetings before, and unfortunately, afterwards, nothing happens. But in that meeting also, it was disconcerting to learn for the first time that SPJ and RTDNA were not accepting my invitation to join NAHJ in rescinding the invitation for Fox News to be a sponsor. That was...
SIMON: The Society of Professional Journalists and Radio TV News Directors Association - they're still taking money from Fox, and you question that.
BALTA: That's correct. And I found out for the first time at that meeting in front of Fox News management.
SIMON: Does your decision represent a call for other associations of professional journalists to at least question any contribution they get from Fox News?
BALTA: Well, I think there's multiple conversations that are being had. But at the core, the principal conversation is fairness and accuracy. What I'm looking at in English-language media are very one-dimensional narratives about a very complex situation. And let's unpack that, and get at the core and the need for more Latinos in news, more representation of a community at the bullseye of an administration for the last 2 1/2 years and will definitely be as he looks at another four years in 2020.
SIMON: Hugo Balta is president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Thanks so much for being with us, sir.
BALTA: Thank you very much for your time.
SIMON: And we should note the response from Fox News. In a statement, they say they are committed to fostering a diverse workplace. Quote, "We are proud of our inclusive team and their achievements in journalism." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.