Science

Democrats seek to attract Spanish-speaking voters via radio in an era where misinformation reigns

Read this article in English / Lear en Ingalls: Democrats Extend Search for Spanish-Speaking Voters to Radio Airwaves


With only days before the midterm election, the competition between Democrats and Republicans for the support of Latino voters has turned into a multimillion-dollar battle to regain control of some media platforms.

A Latino media company began the process of acquiring 18 radio stations in the country’s main cities to combat the influx of misinformation and false information being broadcast on some Spanish-speaking radio stations.

The “Latino Media Network” was founded by two former Democratic advisers, Stephanie Valencia and Jess Morales Rocketto, who worked on the political campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Valencia also served in the White House under the Obama administration.

In June of this year, a company called “Latino Media Network” purchased a package of radio stations from Televisa Univision, which includes the well-known radio station Radio Mambi, based in Miami, FL.

Despite the fact that the financial transaction between the two companies was successfully done, the “Latino Media Network” would not be able to make any changes to the stations’ broadcasts until the Federal Communications Commission (known as the FCC) approves the operation. does not give

Although CBS News requested an interview with representatives of “Latino Media Networks” to inquire about the sale, the company declined to participate and said in a statement “all perspectives are welcome on their stations.”

The FCC is expected to make a final decision later this year.

“They want to use those 18 radio stations and start sending a socialist message to Hispanics,” said Republican congressman Maria Salazar (R-FL), who represents South Florida.

Salazar has been a guest on Radio Mambi several times and has stated that the station is considered “one of the bastions of freedom of expression” and one of “conservative values”.

The sale of Radio Mambi has also been criticized by Republican senators from the state of Florida, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

Three lawmakers in Congress and other Republican members tried to block the deal by sending a letter to the FCC, saying the change in leadership would “silence conservative voices.”

On the other hand, those who are on the business side say that it is all about educating the community and sharing truthful information.

Lawyer Jessica Gonzalez—who is also executive director of Free Press, an advocacy organization—said that “the Latino community across the board lacks reliable sources of news and information, whether in English or Spanish.” in the media.

The controversy comes at a time when both political parties have stepped up efforts to garner the Latino vote. According to experts on the subject, misinformation has been one of the strategies used to influence Spanish-speaking voters.

“Misinformation and misinformation have had a very direct impact on how Spanish-speakers in South Florida voted in the first midterm elections,” said Eduardo Gamara, a professor of political science at Florida International University. Florida (FIU), with members of Congress earlier this year in a discussion of the issue.

An organization focused on researching and monitoring the political behavior of Latinos conducted a study on misinformation among this voters.

Equus Research says more than 50% of Latinos interviewed for the report saw the false narrative that Donald Trump was robbed of the 2020 election.

CBS News reviewed several segments broadcast on Radio Mambi that contained false information presented by some of the station’s anchors. Some of the fake comments reviewed suggested that Antifa and Black Lives Matter members were behind the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Other false comments noted that Democrats exaggerated the COVID-19 emergency to win the 2020 election.

According to Gamra, Democrats also spread misinformation.

“There is propaganda on both sides,” said the political science professor.

Role of social media in propaganda

Radio has played a central role in spreading misinformation in the Spanish-speaking community, says Gamara.

According to the latest data released by Nielsen, 97% of all Latinos in the US listen to radio monthly, more than any other ethnic group analyzed by Nielsen.

But, in addition to traditional media, other platforms have been used to attract the attention of Spanish-speaking voters through false or misinformation.

“Social networks have become a very important medium for attracting voters’ attention and influencing voters,” Gamara explained.

Latino officials and activists are pressing social platforms to act against the spread of misinformation. Gonzalez is one of the voices that has pressured companies to act. In addition to her work at Free Press, the attorney is also a co-founder of the “Change the Terms” coalition.

This organization focuses on preventing the spread of hate and misinformation on social platforms.

According to Gonzalez, several platforms have “made superficial promises saying they will work and participate in publications written in Spanish. But we haven’t seen anything concrete.”

“We’ve heard promises like this before,” Gonzalez said.

A study published by the University of Texas at Austin Media Department found that the messaging platform known as WhatsApp has also been used to share misinformation.

The report said that a third of the participants had come to read fake messages on WhatsApp about possible electoral fraud in the 2020 election. According to the report, most of the messages received by the participants came from unknown people.

In an English-language statement sent to CBS News, WhatsApp’s parent company Meta said that while they “do not monitor private messaging on WhatsApp, we have taken significant steps to address misinformation by limiting forwarding.” , partnered with fact-checking experts. Monitor information in Spanish and encourage people to read truthful information.”

Other social platforms such as Twitter, TikTok and YouTube told CBS News that they too have implemented strict guidelines to deal with the incident.

Congress member Salazar believes that the concern about propaganda in Spanish has been exaggerated, alleging that “people have multiple sources of information where they can compare.”

Who is behind Latino Media Network?

The $60 million transaction made by the “Latino Media Network” to acquire radio stations was financially supported by “Lakestar Finance”, an investment firm linked to an investment fund in which businessman and philanthropist George Soros would participate. Huh.

Soros, one of the main investors in the sale, has been known to donate to progressive candidates, drawing the attention of some Republicans who are against the transaction.

“We know what Soros thinks of conservatives and what he thinks of Republicans,” Salazar said. “I don’t think Soros wants to be fair.”

“The people he hired are going to do what he tells them to do,” the Congressman said.

As resistance from conservatives grows, Gonzalez says it’s all just a fiction to scare people.

“People like to think that George Soros is the bogeyman, and frankly, a lot of those comments are anti-Semitic,” Gonzalez of the Free Press said.

In an English statement sent to CBS News, the “Latino Media Network” said the company “believes in freedom of expression and a free press by evaluating data that can be verifiable.”

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