In an April 30 interview with presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin requested that the senator do his “very good and very respectful imitation” of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another presidential candidate. Cruz declined. He also declined to welcome Sanders to the race “en Español.”
“I’m going to stick to English, but I appreciate the invitation, señor,” responded Cruz.
In between, Halperin held what can only be called a prove-your-ethnicity contest. He asked Cruz whether he’d listed himself as Hispanic in his applications to Princeton and Harvard Law School. He asked him whether he had a “favorite Cuban food.” “Do you have a favorite Cuban singer?” asked Halperin, who co-hosts the program “With All Due Respect.”
Cruz did his part as a presidential candidate, showing no frustration with Halperin’s litmus testing. Ruben Navarrette wasn’t so generous. In a San Jose Mercury News column on the interview, Navarrette wrote, “I kept waiting for Halperin to ask Cruz to play the conga drums like Desi Arnaz while dancing salsa and sipping cafe con leche — all to prove the Republican is really Cuban.”
Criticism continued piling on Halperin. So he has apologized:
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.
Halperin tweeted out a link to the apology, which is on Scribd. When asked why it’s not prominent on the Bloomberg Politics page, a company source said, “This is the official Bloomberg Politics scribd page which we use for documents linked to on the site.” Also, the source said that the Cruz campaign hadn’t requested an apology.
Since it launched last October, “With All Due Respect” has struggled to gain just that. At least it has attracted enough viewers to get itself into trouble.