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The now distant November 2020 elections showed that many Hispanics are turning to the Republican Party and rejecting the increasingly left-leaning policies of the Democratic Party. This was particularly true in Florida. Responding to this shift, Democrats now accuse conservative talk radio and Spanish-language media of creating “misinformation” in the Hispanic community, but journalists from conservative media outlets spoke with El American to provide their perspective on the attacks they have received from congressmen and members of the blue party.
A hostile campaign against conservative radio
While there was criticism from major liberal media outlets — such as Politico, LA Times, Forbes or The New York Times — against “Spanish-language disinformation” since 2020, it wasn’t until June 2021, when the real campaign against Miami’s conservative radio stations began.
The 20-page report contains recordings of different conservative radio programs in Miami between January 6 and 13. These recordings, according to the report, contain deliberate disinformation on the part of the different presenters analyzed. The findings read that “Although there is no concrete evidence that proves a concerted/coordinated effort to spread disinformation, the repetitive nature of the messages across different shows and coming from different hosts do indicate coordination on messaging.”
The groups say conservative talk radio in Miami operates to establish a narrative to position and “legitimize conservative narratives about Democrats, progressive policies, and social justice movements.”
However, beyond the accusations of disinformation, most of the recordings in the report are of programs that mix news, analysis, and listener opinion.
In the report itself, there are opinions, such as one by Ninoska Perez, which have a factual basis. The presenter, regarding the second impeachment trial that was attempted against former President Donald Trump for his participation in the events of January 6, said in one of the programs that “for 9 months we have seen destroyed cities, burned cities, closed businesses, loitering, dead people… but nothing happened, so it was not important, because there was a mayor of a city saying that it was the ‘summer of love.'”
Certainly, the summer of 2020 was one of the most violent in the country’s history. And that was thanks to riots led by radical groups like BLM or Antifa.
Beyond analyzing the cases in the report, the really important thing happened afterward, when national media and international news agencies, such as EFE, echoed the study and began to criticize conservative radios. “Report exposes cases of disinformation in Hispanic radio stations in Miami,” reads the EFE newswire.
“Report sheds light on disinformation broadcast on Miami’s Spanish-language radio,” headlined the Nuevo Herald.
However, not all journalists consider the report to be a piece with sufficient moral authority to take aim at conservative radios.
Emilio J. Sánchez, who worked at El Nuevo Herald and has extensive journalistic experience said that “the report itself was an example of what it denounced: bias, decontextualization and falsehoods.” However, the damage was already done, it didn’t matter if the report was objective or ethically correct, the Democrats already had a scapegoat to blame for the flight of Hispanic voters to the GOP: conservative radio.
The hunt begins
After the report, there was a smear campaign against conservative talk radio. NBC News ran two articles, one in September, titled “Spanish-language Covid disinformation is aimed at Latinos as delta surges,” and another in October, titled “Latinos more likely to get, consume and share online misinformation, fake news.” Each had a single target: conservative Spanish-language radio and media outlets, especially in Miami.
The October article was based on a Nielsen study that noted that Hispanics are more exposed to disinformation due to the high use of encrypted messaging applications. The September article did analyze content from Miami radio stations.
In October, more articles against conservative radio stations would be published. The most controversial was undoubtedly that of the HuffPost, an extensive report in which conservative radio stations, journalists, and opinion leaders were blamed for “radicalizing” the generation of Hispanic grandparents.
According to the report, written by Lautaro Grisnpan (the same who wrote the report for El Nuevo Herald) conservative programs are distorting political reality so that Hispanic grandparents believe that Democrats are communists or extreme leftist politicians. The content of the radios, according to the report, is a kind of poison in the Hispanic families that are increasingly divided thanks to the “disinformation” that these programs display.
Which media outlet echoed the HuffPost report? Cuba Debate, one of the propaganda media of the Castro regime.
This is what it says at the beginning of the article: “Cubadebate reproduces for its readers this article published in English by The Huffington Post, which reveals the atmosphere of hatred, disinformation and family disunity sown by Miami’s Spanish-language radio, which is in the hands of the same “Cuban Mafia” that holds political and economic power in that South Florida city.”
The fact that Cuba Debate has reproduced the content of the HuffPost is no coincidence; Miami radio stations are dominated by Cuban exile voices, anti-socialist journalists who have harshly criticized the Castro regime. In any case, the fact that the propagandistic media of Castroism reproduces, verbatim, an American media, speaks volumes about the content of the article.
One of the presenters mentioned in the HuffPost article is Cuban Lucy Pereda, who has a long career in Miami’s conservative radio stations. About the report, Pereda commented that the media now “use words like disinformation, lies and indoctrination to refer to conservative radio.”
“That’s the latest accusation, that we are indoctrinating the grandparent generation,” Pereda said. “My comment on that article is very simple: to Hispanic grandparents living in this community, none of the radio stations have to indoctrinate them with the views or news they give so that they understand the things that are happening in this country, which resonate or are very similar to things that happened in their home countries.”
“If your grandfather is Cuban, he was imprisoned or not imprisoned, but he lived the oppression, the barbarism, the censorship, the discrimination, nobody has to indoctrinate your grandfather. Because he lived through it,” she said.
Political interests enter the picture
Once the narrative and perception were established in the mainstream media that conservative talk radio shows were disinformation and that Hispanics were prone to succumb to them, Florida Democrats began to have fertile ground to seek political victories.
Former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who lost her congressional seat in November 2020 to Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez (R-FL), is one of the Democrats who have been most critical of conservative talk radio over the past year.
“Back to School means back to a lot of carpooling & listening to the misinformation on Spanish radio. Listening to some programs on Spanish radio is like listening to Tucker Carlson on steroids. Pure propaganda, using lies, fear & racial slurs for political purpose,” the Ecuadorian-American wrote in a tweet last August 19.
One of the stations that Mucarsel-Powell attacked the most was Radio Mambí. Particularly, there was a savage attack on the program of journalist and presenter Lourdes Ubieta. Mucarsel-Powell called the program a “danger” to the “community” due to “misinformation & racial slurs,” among other criticisms. “This program is part of a larger coordinated effort by the radical extreme right wing to incite violence,” she said in a tweet.
Citing the HuffPost article, reviewed by Cuba Debate, Mucarsel-Powell launched a tweet where she called on Congress to “hold @radiomambi710 @facebook mainstream Spanish media & politicians like @MaElviraSalazar @marcorubio @RepCarlos accountable for spreading dangerous misinformation.”
“It is a danger to our communities and our democracy,” the former representative said.
El American spoke with Lourdes Ubieta, who explained that Mucarsel-Powell’s attack against conservative radio stations is due to a grudge for her defeat in November 2020.
According to the journalist, the Democrat does not forgive the radio stations that have closed ranks in favor of Republican candidates, such as María Elvira Salazar and Carlos A. Giménez.
However, Ubieta downplayed the conservative radio stations’ support, saying that it was not a determining factor in the Democratic defeat: “They [Donna Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell] lose their seats in Congress because their management is so mediocre. And the voters are not stupid, here in South Florida, if you don’t do a good job, you don’t win. It’s as simple as that.”
According to the journalist, the Ecuadorian-born Democrat, in addition to having under her shoulders the weight of bad management, also made the serious political mistake of making an enemy of the Cuban exile and political establishment. “What she did was a political suicide.”
Darren Soto (D-FL), also joined Mucarsel-Powell in calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene with Miami’s conservative radio stations over the alleged disinformation disseminated.
“The FCC must address radicalization of Hispanic seniors by rightwing Miami radio,” the representative wrote on Twitter, citing the same HuffPost story. “These lies are dangerous to democracy and clearly do not serve the “public interest”. Our seniors deserve better!”
Journalist Emilio J. Sanchez commented: “The articles that later appeared in The New York Times, NBC News and Huffpost — coupled with the statements of Democratic Representative Darren Soto — are not really about improving the quality of the press, but about political dividends.
The reality is that both Soto and Mucarsel-Powell, along with other Democrats, have long been on a crusade against conservative talk radio.
Last April, Soto, along with Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ 7th District), attempted to manipulate the FCC into halting the sale of Radio Caracol Miami because the new owner was supposedly “conservative”. The action was strongly criticized by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. Mucarsel-Powell supported efforts by congressional Democrats to stop the sale.
“They attack us because they are mediocre and don’t know how to win elections.”
In all the liberal media articles against conservative talk radio, there is one common denominator: there is no conservative journalists’ side of the story. In this case there will be. El American asked anchors Ubieta and Perez, and journalist and writer Sanchez, what they think about the hostile mainstream media campaign against Miami radio stations.
Radio Mambí host Ubieta said that the criticisms are more political-ideological than journalistic in nature. She points out that the liberal-progressive media constantly publishes disinformation, “but the democrats there do not say anything.”
Ubieta, regarding Soto and Mucarsel-Powell’s articles and petitions to the FCC and Congress respectively, said that it is very dangerous for the liberal media to attack radio stations at the same time that Democrats are asking the government to censor them.
“I covered the Bush re-election campaign, Obama’s campaign for president, Obama’s re-election, Trump’s campaign and Trump’s re-election that Biden won; in none of these administrations, which Mambí already existed, did any Democrat want to censor Spanish-language radio in South Florida. It is this new group of losers, who cannot and do not know how to win elections, who justify their loss because of Spanish-language radio stations and that is why they attack us.”
Pereda, in response to the criticism, said that Cuban radio hosts are not mostly uninformed, but are analyzing the American political reality with a tone of concern, since certain factions of the Democratic Party are radicalizing their ideological positions and political proposals to the left, endangering the future of the United States.
The presenter also said that the request “for censorship” by Democratic representatives “is worrisome because it is totally undemocratic.”
“I think there needs to be a balance in the views that are aired on the radios, both from one side and the other. It is something really worrying. People should have freedom of the press, which is one of the fundamental values that forged this country,” she said.
Sanchez, who argued that for him there is no campaign by the liberal media, approached the situation from a more historical journalistic perspective, pointing out that the divisions between media outlets are direct consequences of the American journalistic crisis of the 1990s.
“These skirmishes, however, should not overshadow the central problem, namely the crisis of the press in the United States,” Sanchez said. “This begins to be noticed since the 1990s and reaches its peak in the last ten years coinciding with political polarization. As a result of the above, the practice of American journalism that made it, in the first half of the 20th century, a model for the whole world was abandoned: search for the truth, responsibility, balance and equilibrium, respect for sources, separation between information and opinion, between information and publicity.”
The Nuevo Herald expert explained that, today, “it is possible to find, in all platforms of any size and political sign, the mixture of opinion and information, sensationalism and lack of verification.”
“However, where this phenomenon is best appreciated is among the Big Media & Big Tech, of frankly liberal tendency, which unashamedly embraced polarization, political bias, the proliferation of fake news, even the omission and censorship of information,” said Sanchez. “Not for nothing, an August 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that more than half of the American population did not trust the media.”
What is certain, beyond whether there is a systematic campaign, is that the Democrats and the leftist media want to regain the communications hegemony in Florida. To do so, they must eliminate an uncomfortable competitor: the conservative radio stations. For the moment, the radio stations are holding their own, despite constant attacks during the last year.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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