NAHJ, NABJ journalists react to Joe Biden’s exclusive interview
Journalists representing the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists interviewed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) in a pre-recorded interview made public on August 6. They grilled him on his legislative record, policy platforms, response to the still-raging coronavirus pandemic and prospective VP-pick.
Here are some highlights of the conversation:
There has been great speculation over who will be Biden’s vice presidential nominee. He has said that he will choose a person of color and that his short list is made up of only women. However, he did not want to share his nominee choice in the pre-recorded interview.
In a follow-up question to his remarks that people will have to wait for the announcement of his nominee, CNN journalist Errol Barnett specifically asked about Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and their previous clashes on the debate stage, when they were both contending for the Democratic presidential nomination. Biden responded she is still “in contention” to be his vice presidential pick.
Barnett asked Biden if he would “roll back” city openings that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said it would depend on the state of the nation. He also mentioned that the use of masks is fundamental to bringing transmission of the deadly coronavirus under control. As of publication, there were more than 4.9 million cases in the United States, according to data by the CDC on August 8, 2020.
NPR journalist Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked Biden if he would provide subsidized healthcare to undocumented immigrants who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. He said he would provide free healthcare for undocumented immigrants, adding that when a COVID-19 vaccine is available, undocumented migrants would be able to access it at no cost, just like American citizens.
A majority of Americans, 68 percent, support healthcare support, but not financial support for undocumented people in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.
The interview with Biden aired just days after the one-year anniversary of the El Paso massacre, in which the shooter specifically targeted the Latino community. Alfredo Corchado, a Dallas Morning News journalist, asked Biden how would he would “convince white supremacists” that people of color are vital assets to this country rather than a threat.
Biden said he won’t try to convince white supremacists of immigrants’ worth. Instead, he said, he would focus on prosecuting hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law. Biden’s focused instead on how he wants to increase racial equity in the U.S.
Journalists and citizens from around the country were watching this interview and reacting to it in real time on social media. For those who attended the NABJ-NAHJ joint conference this week, a live chat offered participants the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewers.
Garcia-Navarro said in the chat that Biden appeared “protective of Kamala Harris” during the line of questioning about whether she would be considered for a vice presidential pick, given her history of attacking Biden at debates. Garcia-Navarro added she couldn’t be sure why.
Several people criticized Biden for claiming that the Black community is not as diverse as the Latino community, a statement that he later walked back on Twitter.
Corchado told the Latino Reporter that he was “impressed” that Biden had already written a bill about immigration to send to Congress. However, he regrets that he couldn’t “push him more” when it came to issues related to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents operating on and outside of the U.S.-Mexico border.Play interview
Andrés Fuentes, a multimedia journalist for WLOX in Mississippi, and Jennifer Marcial, an editor at El Sentinel Orlando tuned into the interview to see how the presumptive Democratic nominee would field questions from NABJ- and NAHJ-affiliated journalists. Fuentes liked that Biden said he would help undocumented people that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Undocumented workers, while undocumented, they are still benefiting this country and contributing to this country and they deserve healthcare,” Fuentes said.Play interview
But Marcial said she would have appreciated the interview more if it was broadcasted live.
“The fact that is was recorded and that we had already seen snippets of it took away a little bit, ” said Marcial, while she acknowledge the difficulties of having an all-online convention this year.Play interview
Adriana Morga is a senior at San Francisco State University, where she has studied photojournalism, political science and international relations. She has interned with Al Día, the Spanish language sister publication of the Dallas Morning News, and an on-call digital producer with KQED, an NPR member station in San Francisco. In the fall, she’ll serve as city news editor for San Francisco State University’s student newspaper, Golden Gate Xpress. Reach her at adrianamorgao [at] gmail [dot] com and on Twitter @adrianamorgao.