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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)

Comments

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Lori

Marco Rubio is an AWESOME man!

Steve

Mr. Smith, please provide just a SINGLE example of Fox NEWS bias. I bet you can't. (Media Matters blathering and lying of what Fox News says, does not count as source.)

Carlos

I hope and pray Marco Rubio doesn't give in to the pressure to appear on Jorge Ramos' program. Ramos is Univision's version of Oberman, formely in MSNBC, and Chris Matthews' Hardball. Both are hardcore liberals, who will continue to defend the present administration's failed, uncompettent President! Their intent is a set up to discredit Marco Rubio, who has the potential to run as a presidencial candidate someday in the future. His conservative credentials and appeal to a wide spectrum of Americans make him a target for liberal bias, in both, spanish and english audiences.

C Cruz

Osama Pajamas,
I have to agree with you 99.99%, just left a 0.01% for the margin of error. I am a hispanic been in this Great Country over 30 years, legally. Way back, I was a moderated conservative, with a very flexible mind. Through the years, slowly I have been pushed more and more to the right as no choice due to the erratic policies in the Democratic Party. Republicans are far from perfect, but I see more honesty, Country driven, and as TRUE Patriots when compared to Obama, or J Carter. I did not want hand outs, or entitlements, just the same opportunity to work hard, and earn a living while respecting the laws and principles governing the USA. Also, to defend it, respect it, and to do my best to have a peaceful society. This is back to the 1776, where the British Empire wanted to dictate our living. I can not be allowed.

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/01/univision-admits-bias-deal-making-in-new-yorker-piece-on-marco-rubio-immigration.html#storylink=cpy

Steve

Sorry, but EVERY news outlet is biased, period. People love to point the finger at Fox News for this, which is ironic considering that EVERY other major media outlet is equally biased in favor of liberals. I'd say Fox News is outnumbered by biased news sources 20-1.

juanita valdez

So, Univision has declared that it, and it alone, knows what we think?

I am sick of illegal aliens. I stop breaking our laws.

GO home, get in line, and come here legally. I don't care which country you are from. In America, we follow the law.

ManOnPoint

As an AMERICAN of Hispanic descent, I believe the illegals should be deported regardless. It is a felony to reside in the US illegally. No alien has the "right" to reside in the US. They are in the US at the behest of the American people and the US government. Please check Title 8 The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 if you are unsure. Also, the US Constitution calls them "aliens," not immigrants or any other labels.

F. Stephen Masek

It is far more the case that many hispanics are anti-USA than the GOP is anti-hispanic. Being against illegal immigration is not at all the same as being anti-hispanic. Too many hispanics want the money which comes from the culture and traditions of the USA, without realizing that they must assimilate, as did people from many other nations.

Allowing unchecked illegal immigration is not compassionate and does not do the people of Mexico any good, as it reduces the pressure for the revolution sorely needed in Mexico.

mack-d

univision is despicable...on 9/11..later in the night, the major networks had ceased to show the people jumping or falling out of the buildings out of respect possibly...but oh no..not univision..they couldn't stop showing it. I've had tons of hispanic friends and NONE of them watch that trash channel.

it's obama's wet dream act because it's the only way he can win, by promising benefits to 20 million democrat voters who aren't supposed to be in the country. We're strip searching old ladies on planes while anybody and their mom are walking right into the country in the south. yee ha

Mario Vasquez

Univision has a political agenda, they are democrat partisans, and jorge ramos is not a journalist he is an democrat activist that use the illegal inmigrants to get personal political benefits.

democRAT

Why don't we all just call them undocumented. Illeagal is such a negitive word. After all, the room temperature IQ in the White House is undocumented. What he does is illeagal.

kimdi01

I guess to be "Pro Hispanic" you can't have the ability to think for yourself. You just blindly and ignorantly follow the dictates of those Liberals in Washington. I would rather one have the ability and use that ability to think for ones self and ignore those in a position of authority only because they are Liberal Democrats.

Racists are ignorant

Anybody who foists racial allegiances is a closet bigot. How do these fools get to positions of power anyway? Prison mentality. Lets all join a gang based on our race. DUH!

rashid

Let's get this straight: Rubio for VP and he picks up a few points, end of election. Rubio has the Dems terrified.

theJackal

Illegal Mexicans kill aproximately 38,745 American citizens every year. Thousands in DUI fatalities, thousands more in direct violent crime. To think that somepeople are hiding behind skin pigmentation, or lack thereof as the the reason behind Americans wanting their laws upheld. Personly I could care less if some ones skin is lighter or darker than mine, however if you are a criminal in our country, I will personly remove you from your mortal coil if I find you on my property.

C Cruz

Osama Pajamas,
I have to agree with you 99.99%, just left a 0.01% for the margin of error. I am a hispanic been in this Great Country over 30 years, legally. Way back, I was a moderated conservative, with a very flexible mind. Through the years, slowly I have been pushed more and more to the right as no choice due to the erratic policies in the Democratic Party. Republicans are far from perfect, but I see more honesty, Country driven, and as TRUE Patriots when compared to Obama, or J Carter. I did not want hand outs, or entitlements, just the same opportunity to work hard, and earn a living while respecting the laws and principles governing the USA. Also, to defend it, respect it, and to do my best to have a peaceful society. This is back to the 1776, where the British Empire wanted to dictate our living. I can not be allowed.

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/01/univision-admits-bias-deal-making-in-new-yorker-piece-on-marco-rubio-immigration.html#storylink=cpy

A Facebook User

You should invite more scrutiny on your reporting... I tend to believe The New Yorker Vs Marc Caputo.

Legal immigrant

Who is HAIM SABAN??! Isaac Lee???
Two Jews, democrats, who do not speak for me! I point this out, only because they are so dedicated to pointing out personal details about everyone else.....
One is Egyptian born, dual citizenship, and the other Colombian, living in the U.S. legally??!
They represent 3 countries; Egypt, Israel and Colombia, that have no such thing as "illegal immigrants" y'all!!!

I am a law abiding citizen, of Latin descent, and a proud American. Univision is a dem. machine, racist, and keeps their viewers poor and ignorant! They will disparage anyone, even a private citizen who might be related to someone who does not support the dems., or "illegal" immigration! They should at the very least be consistent, and be for All Illegal Activity! I mean, why should anyone have to follow any laws, rules or regulations?? I bet these two really smart guys would let anyone into their beautiful buildings, offices and homes without ID or protocol....... not.
This wonderful country has a legal process for those who wish to come here. Unfortunately, our politicians are deliberately destroying it and making it difficult for those of us who have adhered to the requirements of the law, and instead pander to the "illegal", the "law breaker", for votes and power! It's no surprise that our society is quickly turning into a mob culture whose lexicon will soon enough, not include the word "illegal" or "responsibility", unless it serves their purpose and applies to someone else.......btw, since Lee and Saban are always talking about Mexican's, as if they are the only ones who are "traveling", it should be noted that there are good and responsible Mexican's who do come here legally, and they are not "saban/lee" wealthy. They plan, save and make sacrifices. I know several legal immigrants, and they are very proud to be in this country!
*****

Watch out for San Antonio mayor, Dem. Julian Castro.
Univision will be promoting him up the political ladder toward president. His mom, Rosie, was a radical activist in "La raza unida party". We have seen what this radical indoctrination is doing to the U.S.A. and the world....

Don

liberalism is a mental disorder.

Ivan K.

So "Israeli-American" Haim Saban is going to tell us what is and isn't good for Latinos. I suppose that he considers them too ignorant to speak for themselves. Haim Saban sounds like a low-rent demagogue who isn't very good for America--Anglo or Latino. I've had enough of his type.

Ivan K.

Haim Saban would do better to explain to his hispanic viewers how he moved from composing jingles for cartoons to taking over, first a German, then a Hispanic multi-billion dollar media conglomerate. Enquiring minds--Latino and Anglo--would like to know what financial abracadabra was involved.

Garcia

I used to work at UNIVISION for 10 years in Master Control-Miami, and when Hillary was running against Obama in '08, Obama's skin color/hue (mostly in live feeds)was purposefully tweaked to make him look darker and more "African", and thus try help Haim Saban's BFF Clinton win. It's the main reason why he bought the network for 16 billion in '07. Look it up.

susanne

they (Univision) don't like America and tell the illegals what to do and how to beat the system. They should be kicked out.
But their news is so much better than NBC CBS and all the libs news stations here.

SaintLo

Good for Univision:

Isaac Lee, Haim Saban. Sounds like Univision IS a jewish news station. And a stereotypically liberal one at that.

Roymg

We need a world war to thin out a society that is screwed up.

A Facebook User

It not first or last time this Mexican co-owned network lies to cover their dirty deeds. Example, When asked if they aired this extremely racist comedy show, they denied everything until caught:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THMWAHD32l8&feature=related

A Facebook User

UNIVISION lied when they were asked if they had aired extremely racist programs a couple years ago... http://www.examiner.com/la-in-los-angeles/the-racial-hypocrisy-of-univision

jac

Marc Rubio is all for immigration not illegal immigration. I guess he's not brown enough for La Raza Univision and now must be racists...Good stuff keep it coming.

Chris

Univision, eh? I'm sure Rubio is crushed. I mean the fact that he is for following and enforcing our immigration laws is SO hateful of Hispanics.

Liberals, you need to persuade Washington to change the immigration laws to fit your ideas about what is "fair", or else sit down and shut up. Willful violation of the law should land you in jail, it should not be a political policy.

Matt

If you support illegal immigration, then you are anti-American and anti-Hispanic. What about all of the Hispanic people that came here legally after working very hard to be able to, allowing others to just come in and get driver's licenses and free healthcare is anti-Hispanic legal immigrant. David Vazquez points that out in his comment, "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."

The New World Order wants a North American Union just like the EU, with unelected bankster dictators, no borders, tremendous amounts of taxes, and this is to destroy all of our economies as fast as possible. The unions, NAFTA, high liberal taxes, etc. cause us to outsource and deindustialize (eco-fascism), while we then insource our own slave labor through illegal immigration.

The racist south were Democrats, Al Gore's father had the longest filibuster in history, against the Civil Rights Act. Richard Byrd anyone? The communists have to lie, it is impulsive and it is necessary for them to survive (just like the never ending CIA-puppet war NeoCons). Usually when they accuse a Conservative of something, it is completely untrue, but if you think of them saying it about themselves, it's usually true. Such as, "Republicans want old people to die." Really? Is that why ObamaCare takes out 500 billion from Medicare, sets up the IPAB death panels, or that the pay roll extension takes more money out of the defacto bankrupt ponzi scheme known as Social Security.

J. Alan Lira

I will not write that Haim Saban is "'disingenuous at best and foolish at worst as'" I do not know him; nor do I know Mr Rubio; it seems to me that any political candiate wishes that any and all hispanics become American citizens before receiving American benefits: freedom, legal employment, education and healthcare -American's, in order to work in Mexico, need the proper documentation!
Yes, I am an American. As is my father, my granfather and my great-granfather who also happen to be Mexian.

legal immigrant

Who is HAIM SABAN??!!!!??!!!Isaac Lee???
Two Jews, democrats, who do not speak for me! I point this out, only because they are so compelled to point out these things about everybody else.......
One is Egyptian born, dual citizenship, and the other Colombian, living in the U.S. legally??!

Saban and Lee represent 3 countries; Israel, Egypt and Colombia, where there is no such thing as "illegal immigrant" y'all!!!

I am a law abiding citizen, of latina descent, and a proud American. Univision is a dem. machine, racist, and keeps their viewers poor and ignorant! They will disparage anyone, even a private citizen who might be related to a public figure who does not support the dems., or "illegal" immigration! They should at the very least be consistent, and be for All Illegal activity! I mean, why should anyone have to follow any laws, rules or regulations?? I bet these two really smart guys would let anyone into their beautiful buildings, offices and homes without ID or protocol....... not.
This wonderful country has a legal process for those who wish to come here. Unfortunately, our politicians are deliberately destroying it and making it difficult for those of us who have adhered to the requirements of the law, and instead pander to the "illegal", the "law breaker", for votes and power! It's no surprise that our society is quickly turning into a mob culture, whose lexicon will soon enough, not include the words"illegal" or "responsibility", unless it serves their purpose and applies to someone else.......btw, since Lee and Saban are always talking about Mexican's, as if they are the only ones who are "traveling" here, it should be noted that there are good and responsible Mexican's who do come legally, and they are not all sabana/lee wealthy. They plan, save and make sacrifices. I know several of these legal immigrants, and they are very proud to be in this country!
*****

Watch out for San Antonio mayor, Dem. Julian Castro.
Univision will be promoting him up the political ladder toward president. His mom, Rosie, was a radical activist in "La raza unida party". We have seen what this radical indoctrination, wealth redistribution and lawlessness is doing to the U.S.A. and the world....

BigMEX

Wow, So many Cubans on this site jealous of Mexicans. Maybe it's because some Mexicans own more property and other interests in Cuba than Cubans. Too bad your jealousy isn't worth it's weight in gold, because then you could all be land owners again, as I'm sure you all were before Castro, right?

Karen

Why you never mentioned Gerardo Reyes on your story? He was an ex Herald employee and the writer of the Univision story.

Mark Peters

CJR got it right: Plain and simple, The Miami Herald reported without proper sources and greatly overstated the facts. The New Yorker story falls much closer to the truth.

Pamela Nunez

Want an unbiased account of who got it right (Miami Herald vs. New Yorker)? Erika Fry from CJR is a better source: http://www.cjr.org/darts_and_laurels/darts_and_laurels_jenfeb2012.php

Negotiation Skills

Allow me to express a truism: negotiators are people, and people have different personalities. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that personality influences negotiation behavior and, in consequence, the results of the negotiation process.

Toby Bailey

Do you think that Syria spying on dissidents?

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