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Rule #1 for reporters interviewing Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart: Don't laugh

Miami has some of the most interesting politicians in the nation, some of whom are sharp as razors when it comes to tussling with the press.

Consider this exchange with Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, who took a chuckle as a sign of "advocacy" against his statements about President Obama's foreign policy as it relates to Libya and the killing of Osama bin Laden. The laugh was more an expression of surprise Diaz-Balart wasn't giving any credit to Obama without strings attached.

The fun starts at 3:28 or so, Diaz-Balart says:"I applaud President Obama for doing two things: for keeping the policies of the Bush administration...."

At that point, I chuckle.

Diaz-Balart: "You laugh. Are you a reporter or a debater?"

Game on. Listen to the rest. And welcome to covering politics in Miami. (Note: This cuts off before a relatively dull discussion about reapportionment and retrogression. Also, though we've occasionally spoken by phone, Diaz-Balart hasn't physically seen me since 2002 when I barely covered him in the Legislature for the Palm Beach Post).

Download DiazBalart



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Say what you will, but DB has come by his defensiveness honestly: after so many years in Washington he's quick to pick up on the common advocacy in Congressional coverage.

I don't think you were advocating, but I understand where his reflexive perspective comes from.


I originally thought you were laughing at the obvious humor in the Congressman's crediting Obama for keeping Bush's policy in place.

But then when y'all got into it about the laughter, you made a point about him crediting Obama only with strings attached. That, in fact, makes you sound like an advocate for Obama. And in makes Mario look correct in accusing you originally of being pro-Obama.

Lesson #1 should be: Laugh when they say something obviously funny, but don't explain beyond that.

Winthrop Jeanfreau

You DO sound less like an unbiased reported of information than someone with a political bias that was involuntarily exposed by your behavior, then the exchange you engaged in.

It's more than naive to believe that a reporter doesn't have SOME personal opinion about the topics they may report on. At least have the journalistic integrity to share the bias with the public so that they can interpret your stories through those lenses.

Cal Canna

There's not enough laughter in this world today...laugh on my friend.


A reporter in Miami being an advocate for Obama........I shudder the thought.

Dan Davis

So, its ok for reporters to laugh when Obama says something? You are obviously pro Obama and it slipped out. To deny it now makes you look foolish.


The exchange was odd but by the same token it is unprofessional to laugh at the opinions of the person you are interviewing, regardless of your beliefs.

judy, Maine

Diaz-Balart comment giving Bush credit, made me laugh out loud.......these foolish talking points from republicans are amazing! Do they really think we are as stupid to believe the garbage they are spewing? Only the ignorant believe republicans. A vote for republicans is a vote for more war!


I sincerely hope that Diaz-Balart doesn't risk going on "Hardball w/ Chris Matthews." He will get all kinds of laughter if he says or does anything laughable. He will also get castigation if he says something untenable. If he has that thin of skin, maybe he shouldn't be in the public domain.


I get what Diaz-Balart was saying and I think DB is right about the reporter. Balart is pretty sharp. I like him.


DB is right. A serious reporter would have kept his mouth shut and showed respect to the person they are interviewing. Simply get his statements on the record and move on, guess even that is asking too much from this left-wing rag. No wonder sales for the Herald are in the gutter.


I AM a fan of politics. I am not a fan of politicians. I am not even voting for Romney ... or Obama, at this point.

So, do I think this is a case of a biased reporter. Absolutely. If the "laughable" response wasn't proof enough, he mocks the guy in his blog. It sounds like a case of someone's buddy's son getting a job straight from the frat house, wearing some big boy clothes, and yet thinking and acting like a 13 year old.

Keep your opinions, whether liberal, conservative, apathetic, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Progressive, etc. .... to yourself.

Bill Lohard

Very unprofessional actions for a reporter. I'm disappointed his peers haven't distanced themselves. If the Herald had any professional standards he would be jobless today.

Darren M.

Wow, a reporter who's also a leftist. Shocking. Journalism sold out for advocacy looong ago, and we know which side they sold out for. It's not a big deal anymore, but they shouldn't try to BS us about being fair and impartial - it just makes the stench all that much worse. True journalism died from a self-inflicted wound; journalists probably have a lower polling rating than congress.

Darren M.

Wow, a reporter who's also a leftist. Shocking. Journalism sold out for advocacy looong ago, and we know which side they sold out for. It's not a big deal anymore, but they shouldn't try to BS us about being fair and impartial - it just makes the stench all that much worse. True journalism died from a self-inflicted wound; journalists probably have a lower polling rating than congress.


I laugh at most of the pronouncements of the Obama administration but then again I'm not a journalist. Its perhaps better to report the news than trying to be the news.


Most journalists do support Obama; this is just another example of the bias. Unfortunately we no longer have reporters and everyone has to give their opinion. Just give us the news please.

Mike Dwyer

Unbiasedness works both ways. A reporter should be unbiased if the interviewee is actually telling him what the interviewee believes. When that is not true, as hasn't been true since long before Obama got into office, the presumption of unbiasedness is forfeited, as the interviewee is engaged in farce. If the interviewee is trying to make a dupe of the reporter's unbiasedness, the reporter must defend himself.

Daniel C.

Giggling at an interviewee's response is a subtle form of advocacy whether Caputo likes to admit it or not. Sorry, but you can't put others on notice that you have a contrary opinion and not expect to get called out on your bias.


Everyone now knows for a fact that Caputo is a partisan and cannot be trusted to report the news objectively.


Only a few people watch Hardball with Chris Matthews, and most of them are conservatives.

Philip Caputo

I would not have laughed at DB's comment, but then, in my day, politicians did not spew half as much rubbish as they do today. A reporter didn't have to break his/her neck trying to take them seriously. The Congressman's backhanded compliment to the Obama administration for carrying on its predecessor's policies is absurd on the face of it; e.g. Bush gave up pursuit of Osama bin Laden after he decided that Iraq was more important; Obama resumed the campaign and did what Bush was unable or unwilling to do. Caputo's chuckle was not pro-Democratic, nor anti-Republican; it was, rather, a reaction to the patent nonsense he was listening to. And, hey, all you Fox Newshawks out there, since when did you become so concerned about bias?


Just another Leftist "Reporter", I think a lot of these comments point out exactly where journalism in newspapers is now. People are hardly surprised anymore when a shill for the liberals, like Caputo, can't even act objective while doing an interview with someone. They already know which way his stories will slant, they are just surprised that he feels so righteous about his views that he has convinced himself that somehow nobody knows what he truly is.
Enjoy reporting from that liberal echo chamber, known as newspaper journalism Caputo, but the rest of us still know what you do is called yellow journalism.


Your exchange with Diaz-Balart is written up here:



The press gives Obama a free pass. Nothing new there. The laughing not only shows Caputo's bias but it's just downright rude.

Forget politics, it was just rude. Then he was so arrogant and condescending when he tried to hide his bias.

So tired of ego journalist who want to be the news v. reporting it. Just do your job.

If you didn't agree with the congressman's answer then follow up with other questions besides just laughing. Rude, rude, rude.

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