NY Times Attempts Balance, Fails: Hispanic GOP ‘Stoked’ on BLM ‘Conspiracy Theories’

March 6th, 2021 4:36 PM

In some ways, the front-page story of Saturday’s New York Times by Jennifer Medina offered welcome balance, after story upon story before and after the 2020 campaign suggesting Republican voters were motivated by white racism: “As Latino Men Tilt to Right, Democrats Ask Why.”

But it takes just a drop of poison to ruin the drink, and one paragraph from Medina is attracting much derisory attention on social media. It’s a claim Medina and her colleagues have rehashed over and over to explain why Latinos, especially those in Florida, stubbornly refused to surrender their thinking and votes wholesale to the Democratic Party.

Medina interviewed several Latino Republicans:

Erik Ortiz, a 41-year-old hip-hop music producer in Florida, grew up poor in the South Bronx, and spent much of his time as a young adult trying to establish himself financially. Now he considers himself rich. And he believes shaking off the politics of his youth had something to do with it.

“Everybody was a liberal Democrat -- in my neighborhood, in the Bronx, in the local government,” said Mr. Ortiz, whose family is Black and from Puerto Rico. “The welfare state was bad for our people -- the state became the father in the Black and brown household and that was a bad, bad mistake.” Mr. Ortiz became a Republican, drawn to messages of individual responsibility and lower taxes. To him, generations of poor people have stayed loyal to a Democratic Party that has failed to transform their lives.

“Why would I want to be stuck in that mentality?” he said.

While Democrats won the vast majority of Hispanic voters in the 2020 presidential race, the results also showed Republicans making inroads with this demographic, the largest nonwhite voting group -- and particularly among Latino men. According to exit polls, 36 percent of Latino men voted for Donald J. Trump in 2020, up from 32 percent in 2016. These voters also helped Republicans win several House seats in racially diverse districts that Democrats thought were winnable, particularly in Texas and Florida….

The Times is obsessed with the Florida Latino vote.

For decades, Democratic candidates worked with the assumption that if Latinos voted in higher numbers, the party was more likely to win. But interviews with dozens of Hispanic men from across the country who voted Republican last year showed deep frustration with such presumptions, and rejected the idea that Latino men would instinctively support liberal candidates. These men challenged the notion that they were part of a minority ethnic group or demographic reliant on Democrats; many of them grew up in areas where Hispanics are the majority and are represented in government….

So far so good. But after a few similar profiles, Medina took a familiar turn toward the ridiculous.

Some of the frustrations voiced by Hispanic Republican men are stoked by misinformation, including conspiracy theories claiming that the “deep state” took over during the Trump administration and a belief that Black Lives Matter protests caused widespread violence.

BLM violence is no “conspiracy theory,” as much as the Times would wish it were (and the paper itself doesn’t know how it feels about the “deep state”). 

The Times is flummoxed by the existence of Hispanic Republicans in Florida. The headline deck said it all in a story by Patricia Mazzei and Medina in Miami, from October 2020: “Fake Political News Aimed at Latinos To Suppress Vote – A disinformation system that portrays the Black Lives Matter movement as evil threatens to drive down voter turnout.” 

The following month, after the election, Mazzei teamed up with Nicole Perlroth to fret over the fact that Latino voters helped Trump carry Florida, and petulantly characterizing Hispanic voters as victims of "disinformation": “Experts Call Disinformation Targeting Spanish Speakers an ‘Emergency.’” A photo caption: “Supporters of Mr. Trump gathered in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami on Tuesday. It is difficult, if not impossible, to know how much false claims influenced Latino voters ahead of Election Day.”

Mazzei remained dumbfounded that Latino voters helped Trump carry Florida two weeks later in “How Miami’s Politics Swung Right and Blindsided the Nation.”