Decades ago, communicational hegemony passed through the mass media. Now, although their power is unquestionable and fearsome, there are small Davids who dare to compete against the historic Goliaths of journalism. One of the pioneers in this regard is the Media Research Center (MRC), a group that has been analyzing content and monitoring the media in the United States since 1987. To discuss this issue further, El American spoke with MRC Latino director Jorge Bonilla.
MRC Latino is a unit within the MRC that was created, like its English-language counterpart, to counterbalance the dominant Spanish-language media in the United States: Univision, Telemundo, and CNN in Spanish.
Since the MRC’s specialization is content analysis, it is categorical that they have a lot of knowledge about the vices of the mainstream media. In that sense, their work is important because they provide a necessary balance in the American news arena.
Currently, the media in the country is going through a very bad moment in terms of trust levels. Edelman’s most recent annual barometer found that trust in the traditional media plummeted to an all-time low of 27% and 56% of Americans believe or agree with the statement that “journalists and reporters purposely try to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations”.
The phenomenon is clear: just as many Americans no longer trust institutions, there are far too many who do not believe the media. This is serious, since one of the clear symptoms of a country’s democratic decay is precisely a press that is docile or akin to the power.
In that sense, it is not surprising that the majority of Americans who do not trust the media are conservatives. “When Edelman re-surveyed Americans after the election, the numbers had deteriorated even further, with 57% of Democrats trusting the media and only 18% of Republicans,” Axios said.
This phenomenon occurs because most of the traditional media are liberal or mostly sympathetic to progressive ideas. The more conservative, or right-wing, media are a counterbalance, but they are still notable minorities.
MRC, a project opposed to traditional media
This reality gave birth to projects such as the aforementioned Media Research Center (MRC), a group dedicated to constantly evaluate and analyze the press media in the United States. The trajectory of MRC is considerable. It was founded in Virginia (1987), becoming known mainly among conservatives tired of the mainstream media and represents the value of alternative media in an era where the information monopoly no longer belongs solely and exclusively to the mainstream media.
Today, as a counterweight to the left-wing television networks, there is Fox News; in front of a media like The New York Times there is the conservative New York Post; for every liberal mass media there are alternatives like Daily Caller or Daily Wire; for every Telemundo or Univision there are countercultural platforms aimed at Latinos, such as El American.
This phenomenon is well known to our interviewee, Jorge Bonilla, who explained part of the work of the MRC and also how and why the MRC Latino project was born.
“MRC Latino is an arm of what is known as the Media Research Center. We were launched in 1987 by Mr. Brent Bozell, who was the founder and president, and this entity was created with the purpose of monitoring the media in the United States. At that time there was only ABC, CBS, The New York Times, The Washington Post; and there was a problem of bias, so we tried to bring that balance to the media and thus defend freedom. Because in order to have a free people, we need a free and unbound press”.Jorge Bonilla.
If already in English the balance of the number of media outlets is notoriously favorable to progressive ideas, in Spanish the situation is even more serious. All the traditional media are closer to the Democrats than to the Republicans. Telemundo, Univision and the Spanish edition of CNN are clear examples of this. There is an aggravating factor: there is still no counterweight of the same level for these networks, and this phenomenon is explained by Bonilla.
Why do Latino media in the USA support the Democrats? Jorge Bonilla explains
“The MRC Latino project was born at the end of 2014 with the same purpose of Media Research Center, but already monitoring the Spanish-language media in the United States, such as Univision, Telemundo and to a lesser extent CNN in Spanish; because we saw that the Spanish-language press in the country suffers the same or worse problem of bias and partiality, so it was necessary to take this project to the Spanish-speaking area,” said Jorge Bonilla.
“There is an interesting phenomenon with the Spanish-language media in the U.S.: they depend on the migration to the U.S. of people originally from Spanish-speaking countries. That’s what they survive on. Because let’s take this case: a migrant from a Spanish-speaking country arrives, has a child in the U.S., and that child grows up in the American system learning English, learning in that language and assimilating to a new culture; therefore, those are the media he reads, that is the entertainment he consumes. He doesn’t watch Univision and Telemundo like mom and dad, he doesn’t watch Jorge Ramos’ newscasts, he doesn’t watch soap operas, because he is watching what his friends at school watch in English”.Jorge Bonilla.
What the director of MRC Latino says is very interesting, because it explains perfectly why Univision and Telemundo turn to the ideas of the Democrats. They do it not because of ideological interests, but because of commercial interests. If these Spanish-language media outlets need a certain number of Latino migrants to arrive regularly in the United States, it is logical that they bet on Democratic politicians, who are the ones who carry out open or semi-open border policies.
In relation to political preferences, Jorge Bonilla argues that the “bias” of these media for Hispanics in the U.S. “intensified more with the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House.”
“When Trump won and said “we are going to close the border”, “we are going to build a wall”, they immediately turned him into the devil. That was a flawed coverage because Trump promised to bring order to the country’s immigration system,” Bonilla stated.
Bonilla, with great acuity, also explains the phenomenon of how the Democrats have capitalized the Latino vote in the USA through cultural and media domination. He also highlighted that Trump himself represented a strong change in the way the Republican Party sought the Latino vote. It is not for nothing that the former president has great electoral records among the country’s ethnic minorities.
Among other issues, Jorge Bonilla criticized the U.S. Latino media for silencing and suppressing information about the H.R.1 law promoted by the Democrats, “which seeks to federalize the American electoral system”, according to the director.
He also criticized the news treatment of the border crisis, where, instead of highlighting the problems it generates for the United States, the security forces and the migrants themselves, the Hispanic media decided to give it a solely journalistic-human focus. They filled their television hours with life stories and gave little or no coverage to the various problems generated by a crisis at the southern border.
One of the central points of the conversation, and where one of the most important political battles will be fought within the United States in the coming years, was the explanation of how the GOP can break with the demographic policy of the Democrats who, habitually, use migration as an electoral weapon to add to their electoral base.
Bonilla explained that Trump left a great legacy and a path for the GOP: a “multi-ethnic coalition.” However, this is not enough to erase the Democrats’ notorious advantage in the Latino vote.
For this reason, Jorge Bonilla thinks the Republican Party must wage a strong cultural battle to reach the Hispanic vote by entrenching itself in religious values, defending the institution of the family and breaking the narrative that the GOP is an enemy of Latinos in the U.S., when in fact they have much in common.
“The Hispanic voter tends to be more pro-family and more pro-values. So when you show a Hispanic voter that the Democratic Party favors abortion, gender politics or the expansion of trans rights – like a biological male competing in women’s athletic leagues – when you present that, and you also present the economic argument, that’s going to attract Hispanic voters,” he said
“To the extent that there is a concerted effort to communicate these things directly to the community, and at the same time there is a counterbalance in the media, what President Ronald Reagan once told me will be fulfilled: “Hispanics are Republicans, but they don’t know it yet”. So it’s time to let them know it.”