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Univision shows bias, negotiation tactics in New Yorker piece on Marco Rubio, immigration

Auletta 1-9-12Univision honchos showed they're biased when it comes to covering immigration and they acknowledge offering "options" to Sen. Marco Rubio amid talks over a controversial story about the drug bust of the Republican's brother in law a quarter century ago.

That's a takeaway from the New Yorker's piece "War of Choice. Marco Rubio and the G.O.P play a dangerous game on immigration." It hits news stands tomorrow.  

The piece mentions our Oct. 1 Miami Herald report (it is here in full) in which Univision insiders and Rubio staffers told us that the network's news chief, Isaac Lee, offered to soften or kill a story about about the drug bust if the Senator cooperated with the network. Based largely on the Herald report, Republican presidential candidates later announced they'd boycott a proposed Univision debate if the network or Lee didn't apologize.

Lee denies offering a quid pro quo. He wouldn't speak with us for our original piece, and instead issued a written statement. He sat down with The New Yorker, though, and shed more light on the subject:

[H]e offered three Univision options: report a stand-alone news story on Orlando Cicilia; have Senator Rubio coöperate on a network profile; or have him be interviewed on Jorge Ramos’s “Al Punto.” Whatever the venue, Lee says, the issue of Orlando Cicilia would have been raised.

That means a standalone drug-bust story might not run depending on how Rubio played his cards. That is, if Rubio appeared on "Al Punto" and answered a question or two about Cicilia as part of a broader interview, then a standalone drug-bust story might not run. And just because an issue is "raised" in an interview doesn't always mean it will be fully broadcast.

Consider those points, and Lee's on-the-record New Yorker comments along with our original story that said in the second paragraph: If Rubio appeared on Al Punto —Univision’s national television show where the topic of immigration would likely be discussed — then the story of his brother-in-law’s troubles would be softened or might not run at all, according to Univision insiders and the Republican senator’s staff.

Picking up where The Herald left off, The New Yorker writes: Although Jorge Ramos has interviewed every President since George H. W. Bush and every prominent Hispanic public official, he has been unable to lure Rubio to his show to discuss immigration, or anything else. 

Note the verb "lure." It implies offerings, enticements. The paragraph also speaks to a sense of frustration at Univision over Rubio.

The New Yorker piece also reveals the levels of bias at the top levels of Univision: 

According to Univision’s news president, Isaac Lee, the network is openly committed to “pro-Hispanic” immigration reform, and it has a particular slant on the news: a dog biting any man is not a story, but a dog biting a Hispanic man is...

Haim Saban, the chairman of Univision, wrote, in an e-mail, “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.”

Just how the Cuban-American Rubio has an "anti-Hispanic" stand is not spelled out in the piece or by Saban. But it appears that Univision sees opposition to the DREAM Act and so-called "amnesty" as a sign of ethnic bigotry. The Democratic National Committee must be giddy that this comes from the nation's largest and most-influential Hispanic network. But then, the DNC appears to already be funded by Saban, whose political largesse wasn't mentioned in this particular New Yorker article.

The New Yorker piece is not intended to -- nor does it come across as -- a defense of The Miami Herald or a shot at Univision. On the whole, it's fair, well-written and interesting. It's more about Rubio and Univision than The Herald. It also suggests the original Herald piece was part of "a carefully orchestrated campaign" connected to the Republican push to move Florida's primary vote to fifth-in-the-nation status on Jan. 31:

They [documents], and interviews with the people involved in the conflict, suggest that a complicated and politically risky game unfolded as the Republican Party shifted the date of the Florida primary. Rubio had every reason to want to punish Univision, and the national Republican Party had every reason to want to avoid holding a debate on a network that would ask aggressive questions about immigration. 

Key word: "Complicated." 

Spanish-language Telemundo plans to host a debate, but The New Yorker's Ken Auletta suggests the network isn't up to the task: there’s little question that a debate sponsored by Univision, which Republicans now seem to view the way Democrats view Fox, would have been much tougher than one sponsored by Telemundo.

Consider that Telemundo is owned by NBC, which controls MSNBC --the liberal alternative to FOX. So MSNBC's Spanish-language cousin is now a preferred forum? Also, the Republican Party of Florida is co-sponsoring a Jan. 26 CNN debate with the Hispanic Leadership Network, which is affiliated with former Gov. Jeb Bush (whose wife is from Mexico).

As for The Herald's coverage, Auletta writes we "implied that Univison tried to blackmail the Senator... [and] portrayed the conversation as a shakedown." That's disputable. Auletta is skeptical about at least one aspect of the quid-pro-quo allegation: The notes of the conversation between Rubio’s office and Univision don’t provide a convincing case that Univision proposed dropping any mention of Senator Rubio’s brother-in-law’s criminal past if Rubio consented to an interview. 

The Herald story wasn't just based on the notes. And we repeatedly said that, according to the sources and notes, Univision offered to soften "OR" spike the story. We weren't sure. We weren't on the conference call in question. Also, The New Yorker says that " all six of the Univision employees on the call... say they were not called."

False. We called Lee and others. And when we tried to speak to Lee, we were directed to Univision's p.r. department.

Says The New Yorker: The Herald reporter Marc Caputo says that the tip for the story first came to the Herald “from friends of Rubio.” Caputo found the story credible in part because he thinks that Univision has become so partisan that it would be willing to cross journalistic lines to have the opportunity to grill Rubio on immigration. 

He said, in an e-mail, that the network “has virtually crusaded on behalf of its viewership for the Dream Act,” and that “it’s not tough to believe” that the network would have “essentially punished Rubio for not going along with the program.” 

One can fairly ask, as Caputo does, whether Univision crossed boundaries to hype its story.

Here's a fuller version of some of the written comments I sent Auletta last month:

I want to make sure that you accurately represent why I believe Isaac Lee could ("could") have strong-armed/offered a quid-pro-quo to Rubio's staff. Your piece, according to my understanding from Nick, suggested I found the allegations about a quid pro quo credible simply because of the lengths Univision went to get Rubio on its shows. I believe I said far more than that. I thought I told you that it was the "totality of circumstances." It wasn't just the efforts of Univision to get the interview. It was the piece Univision ran itself, which made Mr. Cicilia appear to be like Tony Montana. It was the dredging up of a 24-year-old drug bust without a news hook. It was the cold-call of the private citizen. It was the parking of news truck in front of a woman's house to embarrass her. It was the sources in Univision's own shop who came to us. It was the effort to try to get Gov. Scott to say whether Rubio should resign over this.


Then there's the issue of immigration. Univision has virtually crusaded on behalf of its viewership for the Dream Act. Just like Fox for conservatives or MSNBC for liberals, some of Univision's personalities practice advocacy journalism that appeals to its viewers. You've suggested it's far-fetched that Univision would essentially punished Rubio for not going along with the program. But it's not tough to believe. Consider that the network stands to profit and expand its growing viewership by increasing its political coverage -- a growth industry in journalism (cf. Politico, The Daily Caller, the new National Journal....). The network wanted to sponsor a Republican presidential debate for a reason. There's big money to be made on political ads, with the Hispanic vote up for grabs and an estimated $1 billion-plus to be spent on the presidential race. This is about money, branding and bragging rights.


Is it implausible to think a news chief would inject his own biases and agenda into his company's reporting? I've seen descriptions of Fox's Rupert Murdoch as a "coldly amoral" person who "rarely elevated taste or journalism." You wrote those words, Ken. Perhaps -- just perhaps -- similar descriptors could apply to a liberal-media type like Isaac Lee.


Some liberals have said we've gone easy on Rubio. If so, I'll draw your attention to the stories my colleagues did questioning his use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card and the fact that it was the subject of inquiry by federal investigators. As for my own work regarding Rubio, one of my first pieces about him for The Herald in 2003 showed how he and his colleagues skipped out on an important vote to go to a World Series baseball game (a report, Rubio feared, that had the potential to damage his shot at being House Speaker). I've also covered how, as House Speaker, he slipped language into the budget that helped a friend and contributor bid on a Florida Turnpike gas concession contract. I helped assemble and edit another piece rapping Rubio for failing to disclose a home-loan connected to politically influential Miami leaders. I later reported how, on his way out as speaker, he inked consulting contracts with two hospitals to which he helped steer state money. I also showed how he stuffed nearly a quarter-billion dollars in earmarks into the state budget but campaigned last year against earmarks.


(Note: in response to questions from some readers, this blog was updated to include this last paragraph of the letter)


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Caputo's Agenda

What is not clear yet is Caputo's agenda in all of this... He keeps on putting his neck on the line for Rubio no matter what the issue is. Caputo, how about a column (or series of columns) explaining that?

Good for Univision

If a Jewish news station chose not to cover anti-Israel propaganda, we would applaud that. Univision not covering anti-Hispanic rhetoric is just as commendable.

Caputo being... Caputo

Marc can you please let go this already...
You ran out of arguments and were not able to make your point.
You are looking really desperate.

Charles Norrie

Thia is really rather silly. Criticism based in a single word.

Susan Robbins

Anti Hispanic now means Anti illegal??? They are very different. Legal Hispanics should be respected, illegals( where ever they are from) should be deported. Because many Mexicans choose to disobey our laws and we want then deported is not racial, it is dealing out the punishment they knew they faced if caught.

david smith

And Fox News doesn't show bias? www.dropfox.com. Hey susan why don't we deport the 10000 illegal Irish who chose not to repsect our laws either


The GOP has become the party of angry, old white people, regardless of token politicians like Rubio, Cain, etc.
With the rapidly changing demographics in the country, the GOP is on the wrong side of history and demographics!

El Cubanito

Univision is anti-American and pro-illegal immigration so the liberal leftist here lie and defame Rubio as anti-Hispanic. How predictable. Marco Rubio is pro-America and anti-illegal immigration so that doesn't go well with the Mexicans. Too bad. There are about 1 million Cubans most of whom came here legally. There are about 30 million illegal Mexicans here who are are drain on our tax base and social services. If you don't like the truth, go crawl in a hole.


David Smith,

if you know the number of illegal Irish then you MUST know their names. Please provide them to the proper authorities. And, while you're at it, send the names of as many of the 750,000 illegal Hispanics to the proper authorities as well. If you can't provide the names of any illegal Irish then keep your ignorant anti-white views to yourself.

spunt money

Hey Whitey, if you don't let me into your nation and give me everything for free, you're a racist.


You people pushing bigotry and racism charges are fools and incompetents! The issue "white" Americans are concerned with is illegal immigration! Particularly illegal MEXICAN I'mmigration. Social Security benefits are for Citizens who pay in to the system, not posers who only drain the system. Rights in this Country belong to Citizens only. Kick the dirt bag non citizens out!


Funny cause I'd call the head of Univision Anti-American!


the hispanics are the racist. they want special treatment simply because they have a spanish surname and brownskin. why should they jump to the front of the line?

we don't need more low skilled peasants from latin america, we need smart people with skills for the 21st century not a bunch of cheap labor who can barely speak english let alone read in spanish.

via con dios putos


Univision and Jorge Ramos are always pushing their pro-illegal immigration agenda, as long as it's "La Raza" coming in. If more English speakers could understand Spanish they'd be appalled by the blatant racism and support for breaking our laws promoted by this network.


Personally I oppose illegal immigration among any ethnic group whether it is Canadian, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, English, Kenyan, Nigerian, Arabian, or any other nationality.

However I fully support legal immigration of all the above mentioned ethnic groups (and any others I may have missed). The issue is obeying the rule of law. Should immigration be streamlined so more people could enter legally? That's a debate that would be welcomed and worth having. But let's not stigmatize those who wish people would just obey the law as somehow being racist.


Professional ethnics sicken me. In their world, all that matters is heredity and melanin count.

It's genuinely sad that Sr. Macho Ramos, the Fernando Lamas wannabe, can't comprehend English well enough to discern what is to him the obscure definition of the word "illegal."


Univision is a rank amateur ant-American media outlet, pandering to illegals. Anyone who subscibes to Univision is an illiterate moron, If you can't repect the laws herem then take your personal heep and leave.


Shut down Univision. They encourage beaking laws so they don't deserve any protection. Vayan animales!!

John Moser

David Smith, you're the typical racist illegal immigration booster. No one who wants the 30 MILLION illegal Mexicans deported wants to keep the 10,000 illegal Irish either. Only bigots like yourself draw a distinction.

BTW, I wasn't aware that the Politico was a "growth industry".


Some maxims for anyone who believes that the current system will be around forever to guarantee them a check for life:

1. What can't be paid, won't be paid.

2. If it can move an inch, it can move a mile.

3. Capital, like water, follows the path of least resistance.


Haim Saban ?
Haim Saban isn't hispanic. He is an Israeli citizen born in Egypt. So what is this "our community" business? Are you kidding. Many of his political stance have been very anti-Catholic, and many are misogunistic. That's not very supportive of "our community"

Todd Clemmer

The word "Hispanic" was coined by Richard Nixon. I always got a kick out of how much Latin Americans use it. They must be oblivious to its origins.

Vuil Uil

The Hispanic cancer with their low IQ and high demands and expectations is eating America from the inside.

Take a look at Latin America and its uselessness and know that is what the US is going to become.

A global tragedy.


Being pro American is as far from being anti-any race as humans can get.

Anyone who would have you believe otherwise is a liar.


Did this Jorge Ramos idiot want to discuss immigration or illegal aliens? Two very, very different things. Immigration implies an orderly, repectful, and legal process. What is happening now is mostly anything but that. I am sure the same stance would be taken if our southern border was Norway and they were snaeking in.


To the property owners and stakeholders of this country, there will come a day when the benefit cards stop beeping, no matter how much it is swiped. Surplus Humanity will come for what you have. Make the appropriate preparations to look after your interests because this government certainly cannot and will not do so. You have been warned.

Grizzled Gringo

What the pro-illegal crowd doesn't seem to realize, Mexico doesn't want it's peasants back either..They encourage the mass exodus of these problem makers. Mexicans in mexico with an education and a job want the illiterate out they are tired of them and the problems they cause in Mexico...


Boycott all companies that promote identity politics and vote against politicians that divide our people into groups and declare that one group owes another.


Jonathan: Oh good! Then you'll have the property and someone will be justified in hating you to death for what you have. Let's play this game down through the ages of eternity, shall we? Or how about we learn that you not having much has nothing to do with how much someone else has? Seems more pleasant a lesson.


The truth is Univision is another one of those "useful idiots" of the radical liberal left ... it's not that they care so much - if they did they would be fighting for Hispanic rights in the country they are from legally but choose to look the other way cause it is more profitable $$$ to blame the unfair United States and Conservative Republican candidates! The love of money is the root of all evil - follow the money! $$$


I dated a Univision reporter (Phoenix) for two years. What she told me about La Raza, the DNC, et.al. would make your hair curl. Univision is a direct link to the DNC and the VERY VERY far left of the illegal community. The problem so many hispanic reporters have, that work for them, is that there is no hispanic Fox. If there was, the exudus would be dramatic. As she often told me..."Danny, why would an Hispanic American support a party that is anti-Catholic, pro-abortion, pro-entitlement, anti-conservative, anti-American, when the majority of us are conservative and love our country?" The answer, she said, was that there was no alternative being promoted. So...all you leftist pieces of crap that have commented here, you have no friggin idea what is coming your way over the next few years.


Wait, so there's a big story that a Republican's BROTHER IN LAW was busted for drugs? The current President admitted to smoking crack and pot in his book (not his brother in law, HIM) when he was a teen it was barely a story...Bias indeed.


Newt loves illegals (amnesty) more than Americans (Newt wants to bring back child labor for US kids). Mitt thinks corporations are people (killing his general election chances). Ron Paul is the only candidate with a plan to end the TSA and end the endless wars for Israel, it all started a decade ago after a false flag attack.
9/11, US and Israel:


Obama smoked cocaine while editing Harvard Law Review.

So let them point fingers at Marc Rubio's brother in law and try to play the guilt by association game. More nails in the coffin for them as far as anyone with enough sense to sit on the toilet the right way is concerned.


Nobody likes Mexicans.


Jorge Ramos is NOT a journalist---he is a phony. I see a some complaints about Fox News, however, NOT a single "Journalist" at Fox is biased as is Ramos. Fox has journalists, such as Bret Bair and "opinion" or "commentators" shows, such as Hannity or O'Reilly. They are very open about the type of program it is. Ramos, on the other hand, reads the news just as Bret Bair does on Fox, however, Ramos, injects his personal "opinions" into the stories---for example, he refuses to use the term "illegal immigrant", using instead "undocumented", this is flat out biased -- Univision is a propaganda station out to do one thing -- grow their profits---even at the cost of keeping hispanics down. I have more respect for MSNBC because their political shows are NOT sold as "news" as does Univision. Bret Bair on Fox, does not put his personal opinion into the news he reads, as does Ramos. Univision is biased because they know that their future depends on growing the hispanic base in the USA ----no matter how it happens -- legally or illegally. They want open borders with Latin America because that is their base. They want to keep hispanics down and speaking Spanish only --- just as Chavez and Obama need and want more people depending on the government.


Ian: 1 out of 3 Hispanics marry whites after the second generation. The number jumps to 60% by the third generation. By the second generation, the majority of these kids speak only English. The melanin combination of white/anglo and Hispanic produces whie melanin, therefore their kids will be racially white. Since Hispanics are counted separately from non-Hispanic whites currently, the perception is that whites are becomming a minority. However, when white Hispanics are hispanics of white/Europeon ancesteroy are linked into the non hispanic white category, the country becomes nearly 90% white. So, this means that whites are actually growing in number. Hope this teaches you something.


Not even Cuban-Americans like the Mexicans from Telemundo or Univision and rightfully so. I happen to watch news on this 2 networks and I can tell you that they always report any story coming their way as the Hispanic being oppressed by the Whitey. You know, the Whitey that is racist against Mexicans and pays for their welfare, food stamps, schooling for their children, medical care, that Whitey.


Farmers, white and black, settled, established and developed this country. Immigration established our Anglo-Saxon culture, character, and institutions. These days our country’s physical infrastructure, bridges and sewers, needs to be rebuilt. Illegal labor is not needed to construct more McMansions and redundant strip malls. The Mexican government’s policy is to export its poor instead of developing a Mexican Sueño (Dream). Their oligarchic economy can’t produce enough jobs to satisfy the demands of a swelling population.


Frank Gonzalez

Univision is the worst of the worst...is the network of Mexico in America..all the mexican reporters in that place are bias to america and at the same time they enjoy all the goodies that they can get from this great nation...
They are a bunch of traitors......oportunistic..ingrats......
I Hope they get their work visas revoked...or their resident cards never renew.
How they can have an opinion in the affairs of the United States at noon, and have dinner in mexico everyday.....amazing what those ungrateful people do.


Comcast owns all those stations. Time to get rid of my Comcast hook ups and move to say AT &T. You all know that Obama killed the AT&T-TMobile deal after meeting with the Comcast CEO on Martha's Vineyard this summer. Not two days after the meeting, the O arrived back in DC and announced the end of the merger. Crony capitalism? Quid pro quo? Paybacks for support on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC and Univision? On Friday that week on CNBC the reporters announced that maybe, just maybe a "cable company" would be interest in buying TMobile. The socialists/communsts continue tightening their hold on our liberties and freedoms.
Note: AT&T spent 3 years negotiating the purchase of TMobile with the FCC. They promised millions of dollars in free cell phones and time for the "poor". In the end Obama stabbed them in the back for political purposes. AT&T planned to bring 5000 jobs into the USA market because of the merger and also had to pay $3 billion to TMobile because the merger didn't take place. So jobs are lost and a huge amount of money is lost to Germany.


and Haim Saban is a HUGE supporter of Deomcratic candidates...


The only reason why American 'demographics' is changing so rapidly is because of illegal immigration. Our politicians refuse to secure the border. Politicians are guilty of the destruction of the United States on every level. Mexicans are orgasmic over being allowed to plunder this country, and now feel entitled to everything here. The hatred and disrespect they hold for America and toward fair skinned and black skinned Americans is vile. Yet, their hate-crimes and hate-speech get a pass from the main stream media and authorities. No laws apparently apply to them. And in a couple of months, they will receive billions of dollars in so called Earned Income Tax Credits, that they are not entitled to.


I remember when it once was illegal to coerce a US Senator, and the Media would expose that type of corruption to protect its industry and its reputation.

Now with the huge political divide of our country, everyone has taken sides and the law has been cast aside in lieu of political gains, this will be the beginning of the end.


Unlike the Black voters that have faithfully followed the Democratic Party, and have been taken for granted by them.

The Hispanics voters are not as predictable and both parties must work hard to get their support.

Politicians lump all hispanics together as one group, with one common interest, and that's not reality, not all Hispanics want amnesty for illegals, many want secure borders, lower taxes and good paying jobs.

Allowing millions of illegals to enter this country at-will makes that impossible.

Sandy Goforth

Univision’s news president, Isaac Lee is a racist that uses Univison as race based tool to promote the murder of tens of thousands of US Citizens annually.

Osamas Pajamas

Looks to me as if some thugs at Univision ought to be dragged kicking and screaming into the street and horsewhipped until they are dead --- they've been engaged in extortion threats against Marco Rubio.

Osamas Pajamas


The Democrats have this "enemies list" --- denominated in epithets aimed at the people whose wallets they wish to hijack and take up residence inside. You can be a “Racist!” and you can be a “Terrorist!” and you can be a “Dictator” and you can be a “Hostage-taker!” and you can “Wear a tinfoil hat!” and you can be a “Homophobe!” and you can be a “Teabagger!” --- a homosexual man taking his partner’s scrotum into his mouth. You can be “Selfish!” and you can be a “Wacko!” and you can be a “Hick!” and you can be a “Rube!” and you can be “Uneducated” and you can be an “Extremist!” You can be a “Right-wing-nut!” and you can be “Mentally Ill” and you can be “Deranged!” and you can be a “Flake!” and you can be a “Warmonger!” and you can be "Unenlightened!" and you can be a “FatCat!” and you can be a “Nazi!” and you can be a “Fascist!” --- although no one more closely approaches the precise description of “Nazi!” or “Fascist!” than the usual Democrat propagandist --- either official, or self-appointed.

Lies, after all, are the heart and soul and the sword and shield of the Democrat party.

So all you have to do to occupy multiple epithets on the Democrats’ enemies list is to insist that they take their hands off yourself, off your wallet, off your property, off your kids, off your diet, off your healthcare, off your household appliances, off your car, off your bank account, off your weapons of self-defense, off your liberty, and off your freedom of speech. Insist on all these good things - and that qualifies you to be spat upon by nasty, mean-spirited scum --- by The Friends of All Mankind --- by a gang of lying, thieving, dope-smoking, pill-popping, coke-snorting, sticky-fingered, bloodsxcking, tax-eating, gun-stealing, predatory humanitarian thugs --- by the Democrat party, in other words. No political party in the history of America more profoundly deserves absolute and outright destruction.

David Vazquez

Only an idiot would say that "anti illegal immigration" = "anti hispanic". As a hispanic myself, whose father came to this country ILLEGALLY, and whose father DESPISES illegal immigrants, I say that is about as nonsensical as saying that being "anti meth" = "anti white", simply because whites primarily happen to commit that crime. I don't like illegal immigration because it makes all of us hispanics look like criminal fence-jumpers, and we have enough discrimination to deal with to have to add on that little association. I'm seriously considering renouncing my citizenship, becoming a Mexican citizen, and jumping the fence-- then I'll get free healthcare, free education, won't have to pay income tax (or even report my earnings), and get treated like a social hero by the white Leftists.

David Vazquez

I meant my father came here LEGALLY. That was a rather unfortunate typo.

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