At an event in South Florida yesterday, several leading Cuban-American members of Congress endorsed Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential campaign. But for one of the lawmakers, the interesting developments came after the event.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) spoke to the Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo, who asked the congressman about President Obama’s foreign policy record. Diaz-Balart dismissed the president’s accomplishments, crediting George W. Bush for Obama’s successes. Caputo, who’s a reporter but also a human being, literally chuckled at the congressman’s nonsense.
And that didn’t go over well.
Diaz-Balart: “You laugh, are you a reporter or a debater? … It’s funny because — and I’m not giving you a hard time here, but usually reporters are reporters, not advocates.”
Caputo: “I am not.”
Diaz-Balart: “Oh yes you are.”
Caputo: “Give me an example of advocacy,”
Diaz-Balart: “Right now! You’re laughing about my position…. You’re an advocate! By the way, you have the right to be. I love advocacy.”
Caputo: “I disagree with your characterization of advocacy.”
Diaz-Balart: “You’re in advocacy. You’re an advocate.”
Caputo: “I completely disagree.”
Diaz-Balart: “And I completely respect your advocacy, I do. I respect your advocacy.”
The two went back and forth for a while longer, with the congressman insisting that the reporter’s chuckle necessarily makes him a partisan advocate with no claim to objectivity, and the reporter insisting the opposite.
For what it’s worth, I’m with Caputo on this. It’s not the journalist’s fault Mario Diaz-Balart said something amusing, and amorphous concepts of bias notwithstanding, reporters are human beings who are capable of finding humor in political silliness.
Maybe if more reporters laughed out loud at politicians’ ridiculous talking points, the politicians’ talking points would be less ridiculous.