Update (11/22/23): After publication of this piece, a representative of Cornell University reached out to Media Matters to correct Univision’s on-air identification of Sergio Garcia-Rios as a political science professor at Cornell University. In fact, Garcia-Rios now teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.
Following former President Donald Trump’s interview on Univision with Enrique Acevedo on November 9, the network has aired a number of segments with guests and hosts pushing the false narrative that Trump has “softened” his stance on Latinos and immigrants.
During the hour-long interview, Acevedo allowed the former president — who as recently as 2020 called Univision “a leftist propaganda machine” — to openly pander to Latinos' “entrepreneurial” spirit, and to threaten his political opponents by insinuating he would weaponize the Department of Justice against them if he is re-elected.
This interview adds to concerns that the Spanish-language news giant – which in 2016 cut business ties with Trump and his Miss USA beauty pageant after his racist remarks against Mexicans – is shifting its stance on the former president. The Washington Post reported that “Trump is treating Univision and its new corporate owners like long-lost friends. He hosted a trio of its executives at Mar-a-Lago last week during an hour-long Univision interview that was notable for its gracious tone.”
The report also indicated that TelevisaUnivision Mexico co-CEO Bernardo Gomez Martinez, who has a “long working relationship” with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, was responsible for facilitating the sit-down.
Following the interview, León Krauze, one of the most prominent anchors at Univision‘s news division, announced on November 15 that he was leaving the network.
Univision’s friendly treatment of Trump is the latest indication that the network is warming up to the right, despite recent reporting — some of it from Univision itself — that the former president is as eager as ever to push cruel policies on immigration. Notably, back in August, Univision partnered with Fox Business and right-wing YouTube clone Rumble to broadcast the second GOP primary debate.
Univision hosts claim that Trump has “softened” on immigration
Two days after the Univision interview, The New York Times reported that the former president plans to expand the draconian immigration agenda from his first presidency should he return to the White House in 2024, including by “round[ing] up undocumented people already in the United States on a vast scale.”
And in September during an interview with right-wing news site The National Pulse, Trump claimed undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country,” language that is often used by white supremacists and nativists. Just a month later on November 11, Univision itself shared an article outlining Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration plans.
Nevertheless, in the days that followed Trump’s interview with Acevedo, some network pundits made the case that Trump has “softened” on immigration in an effort “to repair his relationship” with Latinos – flying in the face of the network’s own reporting about his explicitly stated policies and stance on the issue.
In the days that followed Trump’s interview, Univision regional and national prime-time shows like Al Punto California, Noticiero Univision, and Linea de Fuego have hosted numerous conservative pundits, including former personalities from Americano Media — the Trump-aligned Spanish-language network that ran out of money earlier this year — to defend the former president and argue that he is aiming for “a change in strategy” on Latinos and immigration.
During the November 9 edition of Linea de Fuego, host Luis Carlos Vélez hosted two Republican analysts and only one Democratic analyst to respond to Trump’s interview. During the segment, Vélez gave no push-back regarding Trump’s threats to weaponize the Justice Department and even praised Trump for his “tranquil” demeanor, which he said showed a willingness “to repair his relationship with Hispanics.” One guest, Republican panelist Vianca Rodriguez, argued Trump’s message could resonate with Hispanics but that “because of the way a lot of the media portrays him, they will obviously think the opposite.”
At the end of the segment, Vélez asked Franklin Camargo, another recurring right-wing guest, to evaluate how “a Hispanic person without partisan affiliation” would receive Trump’s interview. Camargo argued Trump deserved “a seven” for the interview and claimed an average viewer would appreciate a “more than fair critique of the current state of the country."
On November 11, the prime-time show Noticiero Univision and host Lourdes Del Rio brought on two former Americano Media pundits: Jose Aristimuño, a Democratic analyst, and Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican analyst. Aristimuño argued that Trump’s interview represented “a change in strategy because he knows that he needs the Latino vote.” Aguilar said, “He did very well and I think he definitely connected with the Hispanic community. I think he demonstrated great knowledge about issues in Latin America, and specifically, issues in Mexico.”
Finally, during a discussion about Republican strategy in the upcoming 2024 election on the November 12 edition of Al Punto California, host Octavio Valdez primed guest Sergio Garcia-Rios, a political science professor, with claims that Trump has “softened his narrative” that “all Latin American countries are full of criminals and that they are the ones coming to the United States.” Garcia-Rios agreed that Trump is being “pragmatic” by “distancing himself a little bit from the extremist narratives that work very well in a primary.”