Soledad O'Brien Talks About Her Dream Project, The Latino Vote, And Roger Ailes (Exclusive)

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Award-winning journalist, Soledad O’Brien, is known for covering the facts with accuracy and integrity on CNN specials like Latino in America and her morning show Starting Point. The half-Cuban veteran anchor holds the same standard when it comes to addressing the controversial comment made by Fox News Chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes.

Ailes made headlines after referring to O’Brien as “that girl that’s named after a prison” during a speech to journalism students in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago. Latina.com got the chance to chat exclusively with the graceful O’Brien about her reaction to Ailes’ comments. She also talked to us about the return of CNN's Latino in America, her thoughts on the Latino vote, and her dream project. Check out the interview below:

Are there plans to develop a third-part to Latino in America on CNN?

Absolutely. Part three will probably air sometime in October, and will focus on Latinos and the upcoming election. We will look at the Latino vote and our power at the polls.

What facts about Latinos inspire you the most when covering the series?

Our demographic has been growing so remarkably. This series isn’t about covering Latinos as outsiders. I give the insider perspective as a Cuban American, and for me it’s very interesting to look at how politicians are aiming to gain the Latino vote and how our vote is going to greatly shape the Election 2012. I think the demographics of the country are changing rapidly and Latinos can be a powerful force in the upcoming election if, and this is a giant if, Latinos recognize that we can’t make our voice heard just based on our sheer volume. If your numbers are bigger, but you aren’t representing a political power then what’s the point?

In your recent column for Latina about immigration reform you mention how much the estimated 20 million Latino voters can influence the 2012 race. What are your thoughts on how the Republicans and Democrats have addressed immigration reform?

It will be interesting. I’m fascinated about how President Obama is going to be able to talk about the number of Latinos he has deported. I also think it’s going to be interesting to hear how Mitt Romney is going to address his strong opposition to the Dream Act. I think the tone is going to change and I’m very interested to see how they are going to address these issues closer to election.

There was obviously a lot of buzz after Fox News President Roger Alies referred to you ‘as that girl named after a prison’ during a talk for journalism students. What was your initial reaction when you heard about his comment?

Well, you know I didn’t have a huge emotional reaction to it. I thought he was wrong and part of that was because he was addressing journalism students. His statements were totally inaccurate, but he isn’t the first person who has said that in my life. I’m certainly, one, not a girl. And number, two, I’m certainly not named after a prison. My parents are very devout Catholics and they named me after the Virgin Mary.

Great comeback! Why do you think he felt the need to target you in his speech? 

I don’t know. And I mean, hey, the beauty of our nation is free speech. He is more than welcome to say what he wants, and I’m more than welcome to counter him with the facts.

You’ve accomplished so much in your career, is there a dream project you still have in mind to accomplish?

One project I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but I don’t know if I will ever get to do it, is a documentary on poverty. You look at the statistics of the amount of Americans who go to bed without a meal and who don’t know when their next meal is coming, and it’s just painful. I think there’s a great opportunity to bring light to the issue in a different capacity and that’s definitely something I would like to accomplish in the next year or two.

Watch Soledad O'Brien on Starting Point weekdays from 7am to 9am ET on CNN.

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