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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
Posted 5/22/2014

Brent Bozell

The Media Research Center is not a big fan of Hispanics. Why does it think it can monitor Hispanic media?

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:

  • MRC's "news" division,, repeatedly portrays any form of immigration reform as "amnesty," despite the inaccuracy of the term.
  • The MRC has complained that the media won't uncritically parrot right-wing attacks on immigration reform (i.e., calling it "amnesty") and that it dares to present undocumented immigrants as human.
  • The MRC's Tim Graham dismissed Univision anchor Jorge Ramos as an "angry amnesty advocate," citing as backup a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, a right-wing anti-immigration group with a history of false and unsupported claims and founded by John Tanton, a white nationalist who has fretted about the "educability" of Latinos.
  • NewsBusters' Paul Bremmer declared that the new Fusion news channel, aimed mainly at second-generation Hispanics, was not worthy of attention because it would likely become "yet another liberal media outlet that skews rather than reports the news. That's something that no American, Hispanic of heritage or not, really needs." Bremmer did not explain how he divined the needs of Hispanics.
  • CNS editor in chief Terry Jeffrey has a laughably simplistic view of illegal immigration, suggesting that illegal immigrants are all uneducated liberals who refuse to attend church (though the opposite is true).

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.

Dismissing critics

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.

"I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the predominant reason why Republicans and conservatives are not seen more or cited more on Spanish-language news outlets is their own refusal to comment or be interviewed by the networks and publications that Hispanics read and watch the most," Domenzain said.

"When pressed on why they don’t bring this to light, (national publications) will respond with what most journalists would say: they fear that going on the offense and brining their futile attempts to interview republicans to light, will only damage the slim-to-none possibility they may have in actually landing an interview," Domenzain said. "Unfortunately this drowns out the reasonable conservative voices that would benefit the Republican party in terms of courting the Hispanic vote and also makes it very hard to get critical information to Hispanics on what the Republican positions are, how they may help, or hurt them."

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?

Politico noted that MRC officials planned to meet with executives at Univision and Telemundo to discuss the study, but the networks had yet to commit to such a meeting. Given the complete lack of respect the MRC has shown the networks thus far, that's not a surprise.

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.

Embracing extremists

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.

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