Yesterday, Latinos for Reform — a Republican 527 group — announced that it purchased an $80,000 buy on Univision to air ads urging Nevada Latino voters not to vote. Robert de Posada, a conservative political consultant and political analyst for Univision, has described the ad as an expression of the Latino community’s frustration with the lack of immigration reform. Apparently, telling Latino voters not to vote will somehow empower them. “It’s the only way for Hispanics to stand up and demand some attention,” de Posada claims. “I can’t ask people to support a Republican candidate who has taken a completely irresponsible and bordering on racist position on immigration,” he said about senatorial candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV). (As a side note, the ad doesn’t mention Angle or the fact that Republicans have been obstructing reform for the past year).
Watch the ad in English and in Spanish:
I agree with my colleagues who have blasted de Posada and the logic of his argument. However, my question is: Why is Univision even airing it?
Univision is a critical partner in the non-partisan Latino civic participation campaign, Ya Es Hora. According to the campaign’s website, Ya Es Hora “represents the largest and most comprehensive effort to incorporate Latinos as full participants in the American political process.”
In 2008, Univision Communications even received a Peabody Award for “outstanding public service” and “the role it is playing with multipronged citizenship and get-out-the-vote efforts in hundreds of Spanish-speaking communities throughout the U.S.” Upon receiving the award Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, stated “Univision has always been regarded as a champion and defender of Hispanic culture and empowerment since its inception 40 years ago. The involvement in issues like education, health care and civic engagement are core to what we do in our day-to-day business.”
The Univision Communications PAC has meanwhile given $2,500 to Friends of Harry Reid.
Obviously, Univision is a private company, not a public interest organization. It is free to air the ads of whomever it wants. However, it seems odd that the network would accept $80,000 to air a message that isn’t just fundamentally at odds with its own self-professed mantra, but also directly contradicts the goals of a campaign it has already invested significant resources in. Airing ads encouraging its viewers not to exercise the power of their vote in this year’s midterm elections raises serious questions about Univision’s commitment to its own corporate ethics. And if the ads are successful, it’s also probably bad business.