In one of the most interesting exchanges leading up to the 2012 presidential election, an anchor made a name for himself by challenging President Barack Obama to defend his record on immigration. At the height of the tense exchange, the anchor pressed the president to explain why he hadn’t fulfilled his promise to enact comprehensive immigration reform: “You promised that….And a promise is a promise….And with all due respect, you did not keep that promise.”
That was Jorge Ramos, the anchor for Univision’s nightly news broadcast. And although he may not be as well-known as other television personalities, Matt Drudge of the influential Drudge Report recently described Ramos in a tweet like this: “Jorge Ramos—the last journalist standing. Warning to politicians: If you see him…RUN!”
But for millions of Americans, Jorge Ramos was already a household name prior to that presidential forum. In fact, Ramos is more of a folk hero to millions of Hispanics who tune into his broadcast every evening: A study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center few years ago on leaders in the Latino community ranked Ramos along side other luminaries such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The following and respect Ramos commands reveals one of the challenges for communicating with Hispanics (America’s youngest and fastest-growing demographic): Ramos is decidedly liberal.
This fact alone is hardly newsworthy; liberal bias in the media is well-known. But if conservatives are wondering why winning Hispanic support has proven to be so difficult, a good place to start is by better understanding Hispanic media.
Hispanic media are hugely influential in shaping public opinion. Consider that, according to Forbes magazine, Univision reaches approximately 97 percent of U.S. Hispanic households. This from a population pegged at 50.5 million, or 16.9 percent of the population, according to the latest Census numbers. And last July, Univision beat all of the major networks—among all demographics—in the ratings war, as reported by Media Moves: “For the third consecutive week and July sweep to date, Univision is #1, leading the pack of broadcast and cable networks among adults 18-34 and 18-49, according to Nielsen.”
Hispanic media have a decidedly liberal bias. After doing hundreds of interviews for Spanish-language radio and television, I have come to expect responses of frustration and disbelief when I mention the merits of the free market, the rule of law, and even religious freedom. Nonetheless, with a few exceptions, most of the anchors, producers, and journalists who have interviewed me have treated me with respect—even if it was clear by their questions and responses that they couldn’t disagree more with my conservative viewpoint.
Until now, the liberal bias in Hispanic media was mostly discussed in a vacuum or anecdotally. But now, thanks to a detailed study by the Media Research Center, the predominant pattern of bias in recent Hispanic media news coverage is well-documented.
The study, being released tomorrow morning at the Newseum, details multiple instances of liberal bias in Hispanic media, where conservatives are labeled as “the hard right” and even “radical.” It also documents how few conservative viewpoints have been included in most recent major U.S. news stories.
But perhaps the study’s most damning finding is the Spanish language media’s brazen advocacy for Obamacare. According to a recent story in BuzzFeed titled, “Univision Works Overtime to Get Latinos Enrolled in Obamacare”:
For more than a year, the Spanish-language television network Univision has 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.
When faced with this, conservatives have two options. The first is to complain and do nothing. But the second—and far more compelling—response is to heed the recommendation of the Media Research Center’s study and engage with Hispanic media to better inform news reports and stories before they are disseminated.
This is precisely what we have been doing at The Heritage Foundation with our own Spanish-language website, Libertad.org. For years, we have been making it a point to ensure that Hispanic media do not ignore our public policy research and analysis on a variety of issues. As a result, our research has been covered by dozens of outlets in hundreds of stories and reports—important work in reaching all Americans with our vision of freedom.
Because as Governor Bobby Jindal (R–La.) recently told The Foundry, conservatives must first win the war of ideas before winning at the ballot box—channeling timeless advice from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
And given the rising influence of Hispanics in shaping politics and public policy, it would be perilous for conservatives to ignore Hispanic media.