Jose Diaz-Balart is a longtime news anchor at NBC News and Telemundo. He is one of the moderators for the first 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates.
Diaz-Balart, the anchor of NBC Nightly News Saturday and Noticias Telemundo, will join NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd in moderating the first Democratic debates.
Diaz-Balart previously moderated one of the 2016 Democratic debates between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as well as one of the 2016 Republican debates.
During the 2016 campaign, Diaz-Balart was involved in a contentious exchange with then-candidate Donald Trump after confronting him about disparaging comments he made about Mexican immigrants. Trump refused to sit for an interview with Diaz-Balart until nearly three years later after he kicked off his re-election campaign.
Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been a journalist since 1984, according to his MSNBC bio.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jose Diaz-Balart is the First Cuban-American to Host a Network News Program
Diaz-Balart has been a journalist since 1984, when he began his broadcasting career as a reporter for WQSA Radio in Sarasota, Florida. In 1988 he joined WTVJ-TV in Miami to serve as a weekend news co-anchor, according to CBS News. He also served as the Florida broadcast editor for the wire service UPI in Miami.
Diaz-Balart won numerous awards at the station and went on to co-anchor the noon and 5:30 pm news broadcasts.
He joined CBS News and became the first Cuban-American to anchor a network news broadcast as an anchor for “This Morning” when it premiered in 1996. He was later named a field anchor for the newscast.
He has also served as the Central American bureau chief for Spanish International Network — now Univision — in San Salvador, El Salvador and was the Washington and European bureau chief for Telemundo.
2. Diaz-Balart Currently Anchors NBC Nightly News Saturday and Noticias Telemundo
Diaz-Balart currently anchors both NBC Nightly News on Saturdays and “MSNBC Live with Jose Diaz-Balart” on MSNBC.
He also serves as the anchor for “Noticias Telemundo,” a daily news broadcast, and the Sunday morning news show “Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart.”
He is the only journalist to serve as a news anchor on two national television networks in Spanish and English on the same day for an entire season, according to his MSNBC bio.
3. Diaz-Balart Has Won Multiple Emmy Awards
Diaz-Balart has won numerous awards going back to his time on local television in Miami.
Diaz-Balart won two Emmy awards and was nominated for two others while serving as WTVJ’s news anchor, according to CBS News. He also won the Associated Press for excellence in reporting in 1989.
He went on to receive four Hispanic Excellence in Journalism Awards.
While at WTVJ, he was also part of the team that won the George Foster Peabody Award and the Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Award for their coverage of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
He was later awarded the Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News 2012 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hispanic Television.
In 2014, he received the Life Achievement Award from the Hispanic Federation and the Communications Award by the National Council of La Raza.
4. Diaz-Balart Moderated a 2016 Democratic Debate & Was Blacklisted by Trump
Diaz-Balart moderated a Democratic presidential town hall during the 2016 campaign between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, along with NBC colleague Chuck Todd.
Diaz-Balart made headlines himself in a contentious exchange with then-candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign.
Trump had just finished speaking at a news conference about what he described as his great relationship with Hispanics when Diaz-Balart tried to ask him a question about his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.
“Many feel that what you said, when you said that people that cross the border are rapists and murderers,” Diaz-Balart began before Trump interrupted.
“No, no, no, we’re talking about illegal immigration and everybody understands that. And you know what? That’s a typical case, wait, that’s a typical case of the press with misinterpretation,” Trump said. “They take a half a sentence — by the way — they take a half a sentence, then they take a quarter of a sentence. It’s a typical thing. And you’re with Telemundo and Telemundo should be ashamed. And I tell you what— what’s really going to be fun? I’m suing Univision for $500 million and I’m gonna tell ya — we’re going to win a lot of money because of what they’ve done.”
Diaz-Balart tried to ask his question again when Trump responded, “no, no, you’re finished.”
Trump “blacklisted” Diaz-Balart after the exchange, according to Media Matters, but ultimately agreed to sit for an interview three years later after kick-starting his re-election campaign, The Washington Examiner reported.
5. Diaz-Balart’s Aunt Was Married to Fidel Castro
Diaz-Balart grew up in Fort Lauderdale and spent some time in Spain, the Miami Herald reported.
Diaz is the son of Rafael Díaz-Balart y Gutiérrez, a former Cuban politician.
His aunt, Mirta Díaz-Balart, was Fidel Castro’s first wife.
His brother, Mario Díaz-Balart, is a Republican congressman representing Florida’s 25th district. He has been in Congress since 2003.
His other brother, Lincoln Díaz-Balart, also served as a Florida representative from 1993 until 2011.