Dissatisfied with Republican midterm losses, Spanish right-wing media cry fraud, crime, and communism
Conservative Spanish-language media portrayed the 2022 midterm elections as a referendum on crime and a supposed communist takeover of the government, and spread false claims that tabulation problems in Arizona and pandemic-induced vote by mail efforts were evidence of a Democratic plot to steal the election. This misinformation largely reached radio audiences but was bolstered by often murky and poorly enforced election misinformation policies on major social media platforms.
Leading up to the midterms, conservatives predicted Latino voters would deliver a “red wave” across the United States. However, the election’s results suggest Republicans struggled to engage Latino voters outside of Florida – potentially distancing themselves from an increasingly Latino electorate in the United States.
In September, Micheal Caputo, a former Trump Administration official and current Chief Communications Officer for Americano Media, announced the Spanish-language conservative media network would be moving its platform from SiriusXM to Florida AM radio. Nevertheless, in the weeks leading up to the midterm, Americano Media managed to grow its online presence significantly – releasing an interview with former President Donald Trump in the midst of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover that got the attention of high-profile right-wing personalities. It also invested in a new Television studio for its streaming service.
Spanish-language right-wing media fearmongered about communism
Right-wing media often attempt to weaponize generational anxieties about communism in Latino communities to attack Democratic candidates and attract Latinos to the Republican party. In the weeks leading up to the 2022 midterm election, Spanish-speaking right-wing misinformers on both radio and the internet fearmongered about a “radical” leftist agenda seeking to bankrupt the middle class and take over the government.
On her Americano Radio show En Perspectiva, for example, Dania Alexandrino called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) a “fake socialist” who makes millions from Netflix but “wants to redistribute everyone else’s wealth,” adding that she is “an imbecile of little intelligence.” Alan McAbee, a right-wing commentator who sometimes hosts En Perspectiva, told listeners about a “secret, socialist, leftist force” that is “in charge and making [executive] decisions.” In an earlier episode, McAbee suggested the “socialist, communist wing” of the Democratic party wants to “bankrupt the middle class” through socialized medicine “like in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.” On their show Cada Tarde, Carines Moncada and Agustin Acosta even suggested Lizzo’s performance with James Maddison’s flute was somehow part of a socialist agenda to “erase” and “degrade” American history.”
Online, popular right-wing social media figures urged conservatives to show up on election day in order to “expel communism and globalism from the United States.” On Facebook, Nelson Albino, a conservative political pundit with over 39,000 followers, and Estamos Unidos, a right-wing blog with over 18,800 followers, shared Americano Media's translation of Trump’s call to “crush the communists at the ballot box” during a Save America rally in Miami, Florida. El American shared a Spanish-language ad calling Democratic candidate Annette Taddeo (FL-27) a “socialist witch.” On Facebook, El Poeta Político, a right-wing blog with over 9,900 followers, shared a post urging Florida Republicans to “involve their whole family” and defend “the last bastion of American freedom” against Democrats who “want to drown our liberties in a socialist swamp of misery.”
Spanish-speaking conservatives attacked Democrats for supposedly being soft on crime
As the midterms grew closer, Spanish-language conservatives followed mainstream right-wing media’s lead in attempting to turn crime into a political cudgel against Democrats – blaming the “defund the police” movement and liberal policies for recent upward trends in violent crime.
On radio, Americano Media hosts leaned heavily into narratives about drugs and violence, often attacking Democrats for being soft on crime. On an episode of Entre Lineas, for example, host Freddy Silva claimed people in cities governed by Democrats are “looting for fun” since “they are no longer afraid of authority.” In an episode of Battleground Americano, host Jesús Márquez claimed that “Biden and the Democrats” “started a war against the police.” Carines Moncada and Agustin Acosta also spread misinformative crime narratives on Cada Tarde, where they suggested Democratic state legislators and mayors are cutting police resources. On En Perspectiva, Alexandrino claimed George Soros funded “progressively-regressive District Attorneys” that have ruined American cities and “radical leftist prosecutors” that care more about the criminals than they do about the police.
On social media, Americano Media claimed “cities governed by Democrats [are] suffering the consequences” of homelessness and hard drugs like heroin and fentanyl, and shared a translated clip of Trump’s false claims that Democratic cities are “drenched in the blood of innocent victims” thanks to the crime wave. On election day, Americano Media’s Vanessa Vallejo suggested Republican Lee Zeldin could win against New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) because Americans “are fed up with the drugs and insecurity caused largely by the Democrats’ ‘defund the police.’” On Facebook, The Republican National Hispanic Assembly’s verified account with over 35,000 followers shared a segment from The Epoch Times En Español's Al Descubierto, a known source of Spanish-language misinformation, that blames President Joe Biden for the “open border crisis” responsible “for the free-flowing [fentanyl] that is killing our youth.”
Spanish-language right-wing media spread claims that tabulation issues in Arizona were evidence of mass voter fraud
Much like their English-language counterparts, who spent the last two years making claims that Democrats were plotting to steal elections, Spanish-speaking misinformers took to social media and radio to spread misleading claims about the Arizona election. In particular, they honed in on printer issues that slowed the vote counting process in Maricopa County, Arizona, and were found by a court to have precluded no voter “from turning in a ballot.” Despite this and without evidence, misinformers claimed that these issues disenfranchised “tens of thousands” Republican voters.
In the days that followed the election, Americano Media hosts were determined to cast a shadow over the validity of the results. On Battleground Americano, for example, guest host Lucia Navarro argued that the integrity of the governor’s race in Arizona could not be verified, given Democratic winner Katie Hobbs’s “conflict of interest” as Arizona’s then-acting Secretary of State. Navarro’s guest Cristina Junge also falsely claimed, “what happened here in Arizona was the same thing that happened in 2020 — they robbed us,” arguing 17,000 votes in Maricopa County had been “lost” and been tampered with. On his show Cada Tarde, Agustin Acosta also compared the 2022 midterms to the Big Lie of 2020, claiming evidence of “very strange results in two or three states” in “a repeat” of “what happened in 2020.”
Online, Spanish-language misinformers claimed tabulation issues in Arizona were evidence of a Democratic plan to steal the election. On Twitter, La Derecha Diario, a right-wing outlet with more than 254,000 followers, shared a subtitled clip of Fox News' misleading reporting on Maricopa County to suggest there could have been fraud in “the most Republican parts of the state.” On Twitter, Albino, a pundit for Americano Media with over 3,000 followers, claimed Democrats “want to steal the election in Arizona again” and accused Hobbs of “violating” voters’ rights. James Nava, a right-wing Spanish-speaking misinformer, spent the month following the election “updating” his 22,000 followers with false claims about “the Democrats’ outright fraud in Arizona.” Eduardo Menoni, a known misinformative Spanish-language YouTuber who often rants about censorship, took to fringe platforms like Telegram and Rumble to claim tabulation problems in Arizona “prove elites will do anything to prevent patriot candidates from winning.”
Spanish-language right-wing media echoed conservative claims that vote-by-mail is cheating
In the days that followed the 2022 midterms, Spanish-language misinformers also sought to discredit vote-by-mail efforts, claiming Democrats manipulated the voting rules in states like Pennsylvania and Nevada to rig the election in their favor.
Shell-shocked by Republicans’ underwhelming midterm performance, Americano Media personalities spent the days after the election spreading conspiracy theories about Democrats illegally altering voting procedures to manipulate results in their favor. On Battleground Americano, Jesús Márquez argued Democrats used “the pretext of the pandemic” to “make changes to the electoral rules in several states,” claiming pandemic-induced vote-by-mail initiatives like Nevada automatically sending out absentee ballots are “dirty,” claiming that Democrats can send absentee ballots to anyone – “even dead people” – and accept “any vote that goes their way.” On his show, J&J Prime host Jimmy Nieves claimed election-reporting delays were unconstitutional and make the United States “look like a banana republic.
Online, misinformers claimed that U.S. Senator-elect John Fetterman (D-PA) campaign’s suit to count all mailed-in ballots was proof of a Democratic plot to change voting rules and prevent Republicans from winning. On Twitter, La Derecha Diario shared a piece claiming Democrats “were trying to steal the election” by “accepting late and undated mailed-in ballots.” Rafael Capacho, a misinformative YouTuber, celebrated the Pennsylvania court’s decision not to count improperly dated mailed-in ballots and shared right-wing claims that polling places in Pennsylvania that ran out of paper were “disenfranchising voters.”