The Latino Media Need Balance

April 4, 2014 - 5:25 AM

Our English-speaking media were very clear after the 2012 election that the Republican Party was demographically doomed, since all the voters "of color" were shifting toward President Barack Obama and the Democrats. They echoed the mantra of GOP moderates, stating the only way to political viability was through "comprehensive immigration reform."

What these analysts did not do was explore the messaging Hispanic voters are getting from Spanish-language media. Has the conservative message been rejected by Spanish-language voters — or is something being kept from them?

We've seen a disturbing set of reports on how hand in glove these Spanish networks seem to be with both Obama and Hillary Clinton — not just in news reporting, but in creating "empowerment initiatives" that provide positive images of these Democratic leaders.

The liberal website BuzzFeed recently filed an article titled "Univision Works Overtime To Get Latinos Enrolled In Obamacare." The channel "embarked on their own company-wide effort to get Latinos signed up on the exchanges, working through newscasts, special programming, advertising partnerships, and a dedicated health care website."

Worse, rather than dispute the charge of "working overtime," Univision doubled down. "Empowerment Initiatives" director Stephen Keppel said, "We definitely want to give people all the tools they need to get enrolled."

In Politico, Univision spokesman Jose Zamora harped on the same line. "Hispanics are one of the segments of the U.S. population that can benefit the most from the (Affordable Care Act)." Further, "When we report and inform on the ACA, as with any of the other issues that matter most to our audience, we are only focused on providing a public service to the Hispanic community, not a service to the Administration."

In addition to promoting Obamacare enrollment, Univision has also been pushing an initiative promoting the welfare of young children alongside Clinton — which certainly offers positive publicity for the Democrats' front-runner for 2016. The principal owner of Univision, Haim Saban, is a major Obama and Clinton donor and told an Israeli newspaper last fall that he'd "pitch in with full might" to elect Clinton, which "is a big dream of mine."

The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo noticed a lack of media attention. "It's tough to imagine a similar scenario of silence if Fox's Rupert Murdoch gave millions to a Republican candidate or causes, and then pledged to use his 'might' to get that person elected. Perhaps Univision gets a pass because most political-media reporters don't pay attention to Spanish-language media."

These networks offer these Democrats the broadcast of town hall meetings, the promotion of special online initiatives, and then there's the manipulation of the "news." For a Media Research Center analysis on "Hispanic Media In The Balance," MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Mendez monitored the newscasts on Telemundo and Univision for four months, from November 2013 through February 2014. More than six times as many stories on domestic policy tilted left as tilted to the right. Liberals and Democrats were quoted nearly three times as often as Republicans and conservatives. And Obama scandals? These networks couldn't find one.

It's time for America's Spanish-speaking media to know: You're being watched. Will they be fair? Or will they look like propaganda factories to keep Latino voters pulling the lever for Democrats? Reporters and media watchdogs need to keep them honest.