Se Habla Fascism?

A politically astute friend of mine recently confided to me that she is actively tuning out her usual fixation with newspapers, TV and social media, and she pointed out a couple of recent events as to why.  She is a proud “Nooyahrican” by her own definition and also has family roots with the Cuban community in Miami.  And she would much rather not be reminded of exactly how upsetting things are less than one year out from the 2024 presidential election.

But for those of us who may not have the same options to get away from it all as she and her family does, we have been confronted of late with many examples of how a certain candidate has, in some minds, inexplicably curried favor with what was once perceived to be a unlikely source of support.

On November 10th Univision, which is still one of the largest aggregators of Spanish-speaking TV viewers, especially so with news, extended Donald Trump a one-hour interview.  Much like the town hall pulpit that CNN gave him last summer, it was yet another opportunity for him to lean over loomingly, belly hanging over his belt, wave his arms flailingly and spew what so many see as lies and falsehoods.  Last week, THE WASHINGTON POST’s and tried to unpack how this went down:

Trump…hosted a trio of its executives at Mar-a-Lago last week during an hour-long Univision interview that was notable for its gracious tone, starting with a question about how well he is doing among Latino voters in early general election polling. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, a friend of one of the executives, helped arrange the interview and was also in the room, according to multiple people familiar with the event. “All you have to do is look at the owners of Univision. They’re unbelievable entrepreneurial people, and they like me,” Trump said in response to the question about Latino voters.

Moreover, the network has enraged Democratic strategists with a concurrent series of decisions that these “entrepreneuers” have made of late with Trump’s once and apparently future opponent.  Per the POST:

The Democratic alarm further spiked two days later, when Univision advertising representatives told the Biden campaign that spots already purchased to run during the Trump interview in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Florida had been canceled — owing to a heretofore unannounced policy about opposition advertising in single-candidate interviews.

Univision also canceled a booking with Biden’s Hispanic media director, Maca Casado, to respond to the Trump interview after it aired on the network’s late news broadcast, according to people familiar with the details, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

This  has not gone over well either externally or internally.  The Left Angeles TIMES has been writing quite a bit about it, especially in the wake of the departure of one of Univision’s most popular local anchors, as Stephen Battaglio reported:

León Krauze, a veteran news anchor for Univision and its Los Angeles TV station, has resigned in the aftermath the Spanish-language network’s recent interview with former President Trump.

“After thirteen rewarding years, my journey with Univision Noticias concluded yesterday,” Krauze wrote Wednesday on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). “It has been an absolute honor and privilege to be a part of this exceptional team of journalism professionals.”

And yesterday a cover story from Battaglio colleagues Hannah Wiley and Julia Wick amplified the consternation:

Actor John Leguizamo posted a video to his 1 million Instagram followers Thursday criticizing the Spanish-language media company for “softballing Trump” and reportedly canceling ads for Biden. He said the television network has become “MAGA-vision.”  He implored fellow entertainers, athletes, activists and politicians to join him in boycotting the network until it reinstated “parity, and equality and equity” between the presidential candidates. 

“It wasn’t just a friendly interview. It was an embarrassing 1-hour puff-piece with lots of smiles and no pushback with a guy who relished in attacking, belittling and otherizing Latinos and Latin American immigrants,” Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a prominent Nicaraguan American political strategist and commentator, said on the platform X, the company formerly known as Twitter.

But as the POST piece reminded, it was perhaps more of a reflection of how many softballs previous camapigns were served up in prior years, under management that could be objectively seen as biased in the other direction as it is being accused of being now.  Citing events in 2015 and 2016 that were as varied as former Univision top journalist Jorge Ramos’ inflammatory questioning of candidate Trump to a decision to not air Trump’s Miss Universe pageant:

At the time, Univision was chaired by Haim Saban, a major donor to Clinton who no longer chairs the company. Clinton campaign emails, which U.S. officials say Russian intelligence officers hacked in 2016, revealed that Saban had suggested a meeting between a senior Clinton campaign official and a Univision news executive at the start of her campaign.

And now…

Kushner, who has been minimally involved with Trump’s current campaign, surprised some Trump advisers by helping to broker the Univision interview, according to people familiar with the process. Kushner has a long working relationship with one of the executives who went to Mar-a-Lago, Gomez, a political player in Mexico who, the Associated Press reported, hosted a 2019 dinner at his home in Mexico City with Kushner and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

So it cuts both ways.

But more to the point, it’s an honest reflection of how much the Democratic party has taken Latinos for granted, which the numbers clearly demonstrate is a base that is eroding.  And it’s not as if even publications like the TIMES haven’t been warning them of this.  In April 2021, senior editor David Lauter published an extensive post-mortem analysis of the gains Trump made in the 2020 election:

Just four years after running a campaign fueled by anti-immigrant rhetoric, including the accusation that Mexican immigrants were “rapists,” Trump significantly improved his standing with Latino voters.  The latest and most detailed look comes from the Latino-focused firm Equis Research, which earlier this month published the first part of a detailed analysis of the Latino vote in 2020. Their analysis, based on some 40,000 interviews with Latino voters over the 2020 cycle, plus precinct-level returns from battleground states — has attracted attention from political professionals in both parties.  (T)he 2020 results showed that true swing voters make up a much bigger share of the Latino population than many Democrats believed. Trump won over many of them, including a large share of younger voters and those who rarely take part in elections.

And according to an objective observer and expert who served up his take to Wiley and Wick, what we’re now seeing is perhaps a reflection not only of generational shift but perceived entitlement:

The controversy is more complicated than what it seems, said Mike Madrid, a GOP political consultant who has a forthcoming book called “The Latino Century: How America’s Largest Minority is Shaping Our Democracy.” “Where were they for the past 30 years when the Democratic Party was getting softball interviews? The Democrats have taken this base vote for granted. They assumed it was there and Univision would always be in their corner, would always be championing them and advocating for their candidates and policies,” he said. “When you’ve been the beneficiary of media bias, objectivity sounds like betrayal. That’s what’s going on.”

But it may be even simpler and less sinister than all that.

As my vacationing Nooyarican friend conceded, (T)he Hispanic market is not monolithic, and there have always been more conservative facets of it. The dems have been taking Latinos for granted for a long time just like black Americans.

The Biden administration has gone to extreme lengths to court and optically surround themselves with black Americans, particularly women, in positions of influence and power they have historically never had.  I’ve previously observed the sheer irony of his “KKK”–Kamala Harris, Karine Jean-Pierre and Ketanji Brown-Jackson–defining many of the more prominent maneuverings of late, particuarly as they attempt to serve as mouthpieces for their boss, who is far less vocal and opinionated than his predecessor.  No doubt they have a role in cementing the support of that population sector.

But there are approximately 10 million more Latino men than there are Black women in this country.  Conventional wisdom has asserted that Trump’s personal demeanor has tended to play well with Latino machismo, and there is no reason to believe it has diminished.  But even the 2020 Equis data suggested that there was even more surprising appeal that was unveiled: proportionately, stronger gains were made in 2020 among Latinas, without the presence of a Hilary Clinton as an alernative.  And if the best the party can offer up as a prominent Spanish-speaking woman is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who hasn’t exactly broadened her appeal either geograpically or politically, can anyone be surprised at the numbers or. for that matter, the open door for conservative Latinos to be more open to someone else besides Biden?

And as for Univision–many of their strongest and most influential stations are in markets in states like Florida and Texas, which were already quite red.  Assimilated Latinos who watch their newscasts also watch a good deal of FOX News.  Those viewers are not border-crossers and consider themselves to be more educated.  The Trump ramblings of tightening the border actually plays well with them.

And as MEDIAPOST’s Wayne Friedman observes, it could just be Univision wants to chase dollars and eyeballs, just like any good capitalist would:

TV networks steering their political aspirations in their news content to a place where they get more viewers — and hopefully, more high-paying advertisers — isn’t new news…Is Univision looking at recent polls that continue to show Trump leading over Biden?  The network’s TV news Latin-American audience is generally like that of other TV news channels — a major part being an audience 60 years and older.

Krauze and his Los Angeles viewers certainly have the right to take their convictions elsewhere.  Maybe it’s good for the TIMES to now be that upset and aware.  As the recent polls show, even states like California aren’t a guarantee to remain blue.  Maybe if Democrats actually turned their attention–and their spending intentions beyond an actual Trump interview–to the real risk they run in the same manner that their Republican counterparts have, they might make more of a dent in the minds of those that really matter rather than some politicians and celebrities waving their hands in frustration.  That’s not a good luck on anyone.  

It may just be that this is indeed about color, only it’s more about green rather than black, white or brown.

Until next time…

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