Why are Democrats so confident that Hillary Clinton will be able to preserve Barack Obama’s gains with Hispanic voters in 2016? Maybe it’s the former secretary of state’s not so secret weapon, the Spanish-language television network Univision.
Liberal bias in television news is no great secret, and the fact that this condition is pronounced in primarily minority networks that cater to viewers who are vastly more Democratic than Republican might not raise eyebrows at first. But the degree to which this particular network and its co-owner have made electing Hillary Clinton to the White House an overt priority is scandalous.
Few batted an eye in February of 2014 when Hillary Clinton partnered with Univision, the nation’s largest Spanish-language news network (arguably the largest network period with an average of 4.8 million viewers last summer) in order to promote her childhood development initiative. The partnership ensured that Hillary Clinton’s face was ubiquitously featured across Univision’s website and on their network.
This arrangement was facilitated by Univision co-owner and prolific Democratic donor, Haim Saban, who at one point confessed that seeing Clinton occupy the Oval Office is “a big dream of mine.”
In the interim, Univision employees have gone to cartoonish lengths to portray Republicans as stereotypical villains and Hillary Clinton as the champion of all things Latino.
In the past, one of the network’s employees was let go after he called Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) a “slave boy” on Facebook. Univision drew Republican protests in 2014 after the network agreed to air a political ad that called tea party members “terrorists” for their efforts to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the border during the summer of 2014.
The network has advocated ceaselessly in favor of Barack Obama’s deferred deportation programs and executive actions pertaining to immigration. “Please, ask Jeb Bush or Senator Rubio, where are they on citizenship for people who will be covered by immigration reform, if it passes?” Clinton’s political director, Amanda Renteria asked during a Univision interview in early May. “Every presidential candidate will be asked if he or she supports DACA, Obama’s executive action and citizenship for the undocumented,” Ramos dutifully repeated in a tweet hours later, according to the Media Research Center.
“I wonder how Republicans are going to respond to the immigration proposals by @HillaryClinton,” the network’s flagship owner asserted after the former secretary delivered a speech in support of the president’s immigration actions. “Maybe the debate is over already.”
The press is starting to notice this brazen advocacy. Politico’s Marc Caputo and Hadas Gold published a must-read piece in which they detail the network’s conspicuous antagonism toward Republicans, and Rubio in particular, as well as its support for Clinton.
The feud between Univision and Republicans broke into the open in 2011 after Rubio and the network clashed. At the time, Rubio was a newly elected senator — and former Univision commentator — and the network wanted to spend a day with him and talk about immigration reform. At the time, Rubio wasn’t ready. And his staff didn’t trust the crusading Ramos to conduct a fair interview because he was such an advocate for the DREAM Act and, in the words of one Rubio adviser, “open borders.” So Rubio’s office declined but said it would be willing to participate in an interview with another Univision reporter from South Florida.
That’s when things got strange. A reporter from Univision’s investigative team soon cold-called Rubio’s sister and asked about the 24-year-old drug bust of her husband. Rubio’s staff said the senator — who was 16 at the time of the arrest in question — was basically being pressured to submit to an interview or have his family embarrassed. Univision honchos denied the claim, but Isaac Lee later acknowledged to The New Yorker that the network offered the senator “options” regarding how the story of his brother-in-law would be reported. Rubio declined the offer of the “options,” the story ran and Republicans flipped out when the Miami Herald reported the story of the discussions.
Led by Rubio’s longtime friend then-Rep. David Rivera, Republican candidates for president announced they would boycott a proposed debate that Univision wanted to host. Republicans felt even more justified in their decision when they read the reaction of Univision’s chairman, Saban, in The New Yorker: “The fact that Rubio and some Republican Presidential candidates have an anti-Hispanic stand that they don’t want to share with our community is understandable but despicable. So ‘boycotting’ Univision, the largest Spanish-language media company in the U.S., is disingenuous at best and foolish at worst.”
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) May 12, 2015
When self-satisfied Democrats insist that Republicans are cutting off their own nose by not engaging the hosts of this nakedly hostile network, they’re kidding themselves. That’s like claiming that Republicans will never win national elections until they agree to do packaged interviews for The Daily Show and submit to being selectively edited into a monster. Moreover, those on the left who equate Univision with Spanish-language media are self-flattering in the extreme. The Republican National Committee announced last week that the party would partner with NBCUniversal and Telemundo to broadcast a GOP primary debate in Houston next February. Univision might be the largest, but it isn’t the only game in town.
Univision’s political mission is out in the open, and it would do Republicans no favors to pretend that this is an objective news network. So long as the network continues to behave like a Democratic PAC with a studio, it will deserve all the criticism it’s getting.