WASHINGTON — Heritage Foundation communications VP Mike Gonzalez defended the foundation's controversial scholar Jason Richwine on a bilingual Hispanic radio show Thursday, while continuing to try and keep distance between Richwine's dissertation and the study on immigration Richwine helped author for Heritage.
Univision America radio's Fernando Espuelas grilled Gonzalez over Richwine's 2009 claims that Hispanics are genetically predisposed to lower IQs than whites and calls for a structure in which IQ is taken into account when granting visas.
Gonzalez yet again said the views do not reflect those of Heritage, in keeping with the foundation's policy since the Richwine revelations first emerged. Gonzalez downplayed Richwine's role in the foundation's immigration research, saying he just did "the number crunching" on Heritage's immigration study.
But Gonzalez also stood up for Richwine, declining to comment on whether Heritage will fire him and suggesting the controversial quotes from Richwine's recent past have been taken out of context.
"Are you going to fire him or are you standing by him?" Espuelas asked.
"We really — you know, I don't want to comment on that," Gonzalez responded.
Pressed on the quotes from Richwine's 2009 dissertation, Gonzalez said Richwine's critics may have the facts wrong.
"Have you read his dissertation? Let me ask you," Gonzalez asked Espuelas. When the radio host said he had only read the sections cited in the media, Gonzalez said, "If you read the excerpts than they may be quoted out of context, right?"
Gonzalez said he doesn't know what Richwine wrote in 2009 and said he would like to before he makes a judgment,
"I have not read the dissertation," he said. "I didn't know anything about it until 24 hours ago."
Gonzalez's answers about Richwine surprised Espuelas.
"What I heard from Gonzalez in my interview is that Heritage stands by Richwine," the host told BuzzFeed after the interview. "I don't know how they can ever separate Richwine's clearly racist world view from his contribution to the Heritage anti-immigrant report published this week. Moreover, how can they maintain any credibility as a serious think tank by keeping him on staff?"
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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