It’s not unusual for criticism and scrutiny to intensify about a political candidate after the launching of a campaign.
But the tone and attacks on Sen. Ted Cruz, a Tea Party Republican from Texas who launched his presidential campaign last week, have been so acidic that even non-fans of Cruz have called them excessive or out of line, forcing apologies.
The author of an essay in The New Yorker took aim at Cruz, whose father is a Cuban immigrant, saying: “To many Americans, he is the uppity loudmouth.” Critics called the essay bigoted, singling out the word “uppity.”
The website Flavorwire said: “‘Uppity’ is, to put it lightly, an ugly word. It’s got a long and unpleasant history in this country of being racially loaded, of being used to connote the idea of ethnic minorities — especially African Americans — getting above their station and challenging a white hegemony that should remain untouched.”
Flavorwire said that the author, John Cassidy, is a veteran journalist who "should have known better...Even so, it was a pretty egregious mistake, and Cassidy would do well to examine just what sort of unspoken prejudices might lie beneath his choice of words."
Breitbart noted: “‘Uppity’ is widely seen as a term used against minorities who ‘don’t know their place.'”
The New Yorker responded by removing the controversial passage. Also, Cassidy wrote an apology.
“The word…has some disturbing historical connotations that I overlooked,” Cassidy wrote, “and in applying it to a Latino politician, I goofed. If I gave any offense, however inadvertently, I am sorry.”
Rick Tyler, the national spokesman for the Cruz campaign, said the disparaging remarks in the media about Cruz that go beyond criticism of his policy positions are symptomatic of “a new media world” that prioritizes providing shocking – even if inaccurate or offensive – content in order to generate readers.
Tyler said that too often, little thought about ethics or responsibility is given to an item that promises to bring “clicks.”
“It’s ‘let’s post this now and we can correct it later,’” Tyler said in an interview with Fox News Latino.
He said Cruz will not engage in personal attacks.
“We’ll be pointing out differences between the candidates,” Tyler said, but Cruz “is not going to engage in the level of attack politics that seems to be going on.”
Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen wrote: “It’s not just the liberal commentariat that is attacking Cruz. Here is how the New York Times ‘reported’ Cruz’s announcement on its front page: ‘Mr. Cruz’s tenure in Washington has been marked by accusations of demagogy. He sometimes deploys the soaring diction of a preacher while staking out uncompromising and rigid conservative positions, often playing the role of political flamethrower.’ That’s not an editorial; that’s a news story.”
One of the most assailed attempts to take shots at Cruz occurred on MSNBC, when guest Jamilah Lemieux made fun of the lawmaker’s remarks on a CBS morning show that he grew fond of country music after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because of that genre’s patriotic songs.
Lemieux said, “Nothing says ‘Let’s go kill some Muslims’ like country music, fresh from Lynchburg, Virginia. Someone who obviously does not want to be a polarizing candidate, he wants to bring people together, I mean — really? That’s absurd.”
After a torrent of criticism of Lemieux, MSNBC delivered an on-air apology.
Earlier this year, the senator's spokeswoman wrote a letter to the editor in The New York Times taking issue with an opinion piece that she said sought to stereotype Cruz.
The Op-Ed in The New York Times depicted Cuban-Americans, and Cruz specifically, as white privileged people who have little in common with other Latinos.
The Op-Ed, written by Ann Louise Bardach, author of books about Cuba, was titled “Why Are Cubans So Special?” and said: “For almost a half century, Cubans have been the most privileged immigrants in the United States … The repeal of this Cold War relic of immigration policy is long overdue.”
Bardach also mocked Cruz’s reported inability to speak Spanish.
Carpenter responded in her letter to the editor in The Times: “Your decision to allow an Op-Ed writer to openly mock a person’s ethnicity — as Ann Louise Bardach did when she wrote that Senator Ted Cruz ‘has been called as Hispanic as Tom Cruise’ — is saddening.”
Bardach was referring to a remark by Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, a vociferous critic of Cruz, in an interview he gave to the San Antonio Express-News.
Hinojosa said: “His last name may be Cruz, but there is nothing, not an ounce, about the way he thinks and the way he has led his life that in any way is similar to Hispanics in the state of Texas and all across America. Ted Cruz is as much Hispanic ... as Tom Cruise.”