The MRC's Watch-Chihuahua
The Media Research Center launches MRC Latino to observe Hispanic media, despite the fact that it has not been historically friendly toward Hispanics or their issues.
By Terry Krepel
In April, the MRC launched MRC Latino, described as an attempt to subject Spanish-language media -- which, in practice, appears to be limited to the "weekday evening newscasts of Univision and Telemundo" -- to "consistent conservative engagement and scrutiny for fairness, accuracy and journalistic integrity." Of course, the MRC's "research" is hardly anyone's guide for how to monitor for "fairness, accuracy and journalistic integrity" since it is so skewed and unscientific.
That would seem to undermine the entire premise of the enterprise. So would another salient point: the MRC has long been hostile to Hispanics and their causes, like immigration reform.
Right Wing Watch noted that MRC chief Brent Bozell has called for the expulsion of Republican leadership if it moved ahead with immigration reform, and he complained that the media was "pandering to minority voters as the most crucial, special voters of all," Latinos in particular.
The MRC has long demonstrated hostility toward Hispanics:
The MRC has also falsely attacked Hispanic advocacy group La Raza as a "radical" and "separatist" group. Indeed, a few days before MRC Latino's launch, the MRC's Sean Long smeared La Raza again, cherry-picking Hispanic activist César Chávez to claim he "reportedly compared La Raza to Hitler."
Long's source for the Chávez claim is a 2009 National Review blog post by anti-immigration activist Mark Krikorian about an oblique reference to a “la raza” group Chávez made in 1969. But it’s dishonest for Long to suggest that today’s La Raza is like the “la raza” movement of the late '60s or to portray Chávez's 1969 criticism as applying to all “Latino advocacy groups.” The fact that the Cesar Chavez Foundation is a La Raza affiliate also undercuts the argument.
Further, whatever differences Chavez had with "la raza" groups disappeared a few years later. A book of essays on Chavez notes that most of those groups were working with Chávez's United Farm Workers, and activists were crediting Chávez with creating ethnic pride among Hispanics.
The MRC's general disrespect of Hispanics continued with its dismissal of criticism of its big report attacking Hispanic media as liberal.
After the MRC report was released, both Telemundo and Univision gave their reaction to Politico defending the accuracy and fairness of their reporting. Politico obtained another crucial viewpoint:
But Gabriela Domenzain, a principal at The Raben Group and former Director of Hispanic Media for Obama's 2012 campaign, said that when she worked at both Univision and Telemundo conservative guests often didn't want to appear on the network even when invited.
But in their April 4 column promoting the report, the MRC's Brent Bozell and Tim Graham ignored what Domenzain had to say about conservatives refusing to appear in Hispanic media. Instead, they attacked a Univision spokesman for defending the network's coverage of the Affordable Care Act as a public service to its viewers.
If the MRC cannot even give its targets the respect of acknowledging the shortcomings in its research, why should they treat the MRC with the respect they seem to be demanding?
The MRC did, however, take offense to MRC Latino being mocked. Matt Hadro wrote an April 9 NewsBusters post dedicated to complaining that "The Daily Show" pointed out that a lot of the Hispanic networks' purportedly biased coverage of Obamacare was, in fact, about instructing viewers how to comply with the law. Hadro doesn't dispute the claim itself, though.
MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Méndez devoted a May 16 NewsBusters post to his interview with Sen. Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz:
As a travelling pastor, Rev. Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, is in a unique position to sense where the political winds are blowing in this mid-term election year. During a visit to the Media Research Center, the elder Cruz said that with just over five months to go between now and Election Day, he sees major conservative gains ahead, including the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid as Majority Leader that would come with Republicans winning control of the United States Senate.
Oliver-Méndez also promoted the elder Cruz's endorsement of the MRC: “You are doing something that is absolutely necessary in this country when we have so much of the liberal media that they have ceased to be broadcasters, they have ceased to be really journalists and they have become mouthpieces for the administration. They have apparently no concern for truth all they want to do is promote the talking points of the administration so you are standing in the gap.”
What Oliver-Méndez didn't do, however, is mention the elder Cruz's history of inflammatory statements -- which include saying that President Obama is a Marxist who should go "back to Kenya," falsely claiming that “the first bill President Obama signed into law was to legalize third trimester abortions" (in fact, it was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and he has never signed any law approving third-trimester abortions), and asserting that gay marriage is some kind of government conspiracy.
Between this embrace of an extremist activist and the MRC's longtime hostility to Hispanics and their issues, the success of this venture seems rather dubious, let alone accomplish its presumed ulterior motive to draw more Hispanics to the Republican Party.