Leguizamo: Cozying up to Trump, Univision is betraying its Spanish-speaking viewers

During presidential elections, Univision has served as one of the key Spanish-language networks reporting accurate information on candidates and their policies. By its own account, the network’s mission is to “inform and empower” the Latino community, and through that mission Univision has earned the trust of millions of Spanish speakers across the country.

Heading into the 2024 elections, Latinos expected Univision to remain a trustworthy and reliable source — at least until last week when it was reported that network executives met with former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago. And on Nov. 9 the network aired an hourlong interview with him that held a completely uncritical lens on the dangerous policies Trump espoused during his presidency and what he has vowed to set in motion if he is elected in 2024.

According to the Washington Post, executives at the network’s parent company, TelevisaUnivision, are changing their approach to Trump, which allowed him to spread falsehoods during the interview, whose viewers probably assumed Univision was still operating with journalistic integrity. Sadly, that’s not the case.

This cozy interview came just days before Trump’s inhumane and vicious immigration policy plan for 2025 was revealed by longtime aide Stephen Miller. It would include reinstating a Muslim travel ban, an end to birthright citizenship, a targeted campaign to “round up” undocumented immigrants and detain them in camps and the beginning of mass deportations regardless of an individual’s time in the U.S. Additionally, Trump has promised that if elected he will end extremely popular immigration programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and revoke Temporary Protected Status and humanitarian parole.

These plans echo why Trump is considered the most anti-Latino president in American history and recall his four years in office stoking hate speech and causing suffering for so many people. During his presidency, Trump even attacked Univision’s Jorge Ramos by expelling him from a news conference after he confronted the then-president about his immigration record.

Despite these past indignities and dangerous plans, Univision’s new corporate owners — one of whom is friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — have decided to shift the network’s editorial approach and buddy up with Trump less than a year before an immensely consequential election for Latino voters. This shift has included canceling already-purchased Biden campaign advertising during the Trump interview and canceling the rebuttal to Trump’s interview with Biden’s director for Hispanic media, Maca Casado.

Politicians buddying up with powerful media executives to create unchecked platforms and censor opposing parties is deeply concerning and akin to the types of actions we see in authoritarian regimes in Latin America — regimes that many of our own families have had to flee because of political oppression and persecution. Our communities are far too familiar with the consequences of a politicized press corps.

In a democracy, the role of the press is to help ensure that the government is accountable to the people it serves. Any corporate decision that undermines that role is dangerous and an abuse of the public’s trust.

As one of the most relied-upon news sources for Spanish speakers, Univision has a responsibility to report the facts and maintain journalistic integrity, regardless of which politician the CEO chooses to befriend.

For Univision to remain a credible source, executives must now prove to viewers that it is capable of upholding the principles of journalism. They must reaffirm their commitment to fact-checking and balanced, unbiased reporting. Univision should be reporting on the threat of disinformation used to influence Latino voters. Its millions of viewers, who will have a major role in the 2024 elections, will need the network to do its work with integrity. Univision’s reputation won’t last long if it doesn’t.

John Leguizamo is an actor, comedian and film producer.

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