Joe Biden’s rise from the ash heap to Democratic frontrunner, while remarkable unto itself, is also remarkable for the manner in which it exposed the nation’s domestic Spanish-language media’s agenda-driven journalism.
The networks built a narrative which centered around making Bernie Sanders a “Latino” candidate with which to flex power and influence. MRC Latino has documented, for example, the networks’ role in enabling Sanders’ rise- specifically by soft-covering his expressed fondness of Latin American dictators while framing his brand of “Democratic Socialism” as being closer to Scandinavia than to Cuba or the Soviet Union. At the same time, Joe Biden got hammered for deportations during the Obama Administration- receiving more scrutiny and harsher questioning than did Obama himself.
Here’s a sample of those narratives playing out during last September’s ABC-Univision debate (and taste of what to expect in the upcoming CNN-Univision debate). Click "Expand" to view transcript:
JORGE RAMOS: Vice President Biden, as a presidential candidate, in 2008, you supported the border wall, saying: “Unlike most Democrats, I voted for 700 miles of fence.” This is what you said. Then you serve as Vice President in an administration that deported 3 million people, the most ever in U.S. history. Did you do anything to prevent those deportations? I mean, you've been asked this question before and refused to answer- so let me try once again. Are you prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations? Why should Latinos trust you?
RAMOS: But you didn’t answer the question.
JOE BIDEN: Well, I did answer the question.
RAMOS: Did you make a mistake with those deportations?
BIDEN: The President did the best thing that was able to be done at the time.
RAMOS: How about you?
BIDEN: I’m the Vice President of the United States.
RAMOS: Senator Sanders, one country where many immigrants are arriving from is Venezuela. You admit that Venezuela does not have free elections, but still you refuse to call Nicolas Maduro “un dictador”. A dictator. Can you explain why? And what are the differences between your kind of socialism and the one being imposed in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
BERNIE SANDERS: Well, first of all, let me be very clear. Anybody who does what Maduro does is a vicious tyrant. What we need now is international and regional cooperation for free elections in Venezuela so the people of that country can create their own future. In terms of democratic socialism, to equate what goes on in Venezuela with what I believe is extremely unfair. I'll tell you what I believe in terms of democratic socialism. I agree with what goes on in Canada and in Scandinavia, guaranteeing health care to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on Earth not to provide paid family and medical leave. I believe that every worker in this country deserves a living wage and that we expand the trade union movement. I happen to believe also that what, to me, democratic socialism means, is we deal with an issue, we do not discuss enough, Jorge, not in the media, and not in congress. You got three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of this country. Maybe, just maybe, what we should be doing…
RAMOS: Thank you.
SANDERS: ...is creating an economy that works for all of us, not one percent. That’s my understanding of democratic socialism.
Sanders also dominated coverage during the month of February, garnering nearly twice as much airtime as the rest of the remaining Democrat field combined. Univision and Telemundo pushed Sanders’ success in Nevada, and polls in California and Texas as proof evident that: (a) Bernie was Latinos’ preferred candidate and (b): Latinos would be decisive in selecting the Democratic nominee.
But Biden won decisively in South Carolina, and carried (despite losing California) the lion’s share of the Super Tuesday states- including Texas, a state that the networks sold as Sanders winning due to Latino support.
Alas, that didn’t happen and Sanders is now staring down the barrel of Florida, a place where love for Castro and Ortega doesn’t play so well.
At this juncture and barring some unforeseen event, it is highly likely that Joe Biden will win the Democratic presidential nomination WITHOUT winning a significant percentage of Latino support. It is as if the sleeping Latino giant awakened, as the Left is fond of saying, only to be tied up by Spanish-language media and thrown into Sanders’ corner.
Now, more than ever, the market cries out for an alternative.