October 10, 2011

Univision and Obama?

As I've mentioned before, whenever I read anonymously sourced articles from Washington circles about how Obama is a loner, is out of touch, is in over his head (here's a new one from the New York Post: "Obama growing isolated from his own administration"), I get this weird suspicion that the reporter just got off the phone with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers billionaire who is a major bankroller of the Clinton wing of the Democrats. After the Democratic primaries in 2008, Saban flirted with McCain, but then stuck with the Democrats and was apparently quite happy with Obama's appointments, such as Hillary to State. Saban is one of those guys who would make a great college football booster. (Here's one of his charities.)

Now, it's certainly possible that Obama is feeling a little blue these days, but mostly Obama is Obama, a "blank screen" as he aptly put it, upon whom people project their various fantasies. One fantasy that's going around at present is that Obama will chuck it in and let Hillary be the Democratic nominee in 2012. (That seems extremely implausible to me.)

On the other hand, I don't have any evidence for this hunch about Saban trying to undermine Obama. But I am very interested in what the Saban wing of the Democrats is up to these days. Are they 100% gung ho behind Obama? 

But in trying to come up with a way to test this question, I stumbled upon a bigger question that's relevant to the Saban question but is also important in its own right: What's Univision up to regarding the 2012 Presidential race? Who are they leaning towards? 

A few years ago, Univision, the dominant Spanish-language network in the U.S., was bought from Republican Italian-American billionaire Jerry Perrenchio by a group fronted by Saban. They paid top dollar at the peak of the subprime bubble that made Hispanics a particularly lusted-after target for advertisers. Presumably, Saban is mostly interested at present in making his big investment pay off, but he presumably can afford to tilt Univision's news coverage slightly in a direction he likes. Here's a 2007 Fortune Magazine article:
The man with the golden gut 
How Haim Saban, a flinty self-made billionaire, plans to turn Univision into the next great network - and put Hillary Clinton in the White House. Fortune's Stephanie Mehta reports. 
... Clinton, Saban says, ignited his interest in using his resources to find solutions to strife in the Middle East. He soon became the Democratic Party's largest single donor. "I don't say this lightly," says Terry McAuliffe, head of the Democratic National Committee at the time. "Haim Saban saved the Democratic Party." 
Now Saban is turning his energies to Hillary Clinton.

Univision could offer Saban an isolated playpen in which to put his thumb on the scale slightly while maintaining plausible deniability with Obama. "That's just a mistranslation of a Spanish idiom, Mr. President!" I don't know, I'm just speculating.

The new president of Univision News since late 2010 is Isaac Lee, a recent (2000) immigrant from Colombia, where he was a hard-charging magazine editor. He has studied at Universidad de los Andes and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 

At the moment, the only stuff in the English language press about Univision and Lee is about how Republican presidential candidates are mad at him for trying to pressure golden boy Republican senator Marco Rubio into appearing on Univision by offering to withhold a story about his brother-in-law's decades-old drug arrest. (Rubio is a favorite of the Republican counterparts of Saban.)

But, is anybody keeping track of how Univision coverage is trending on the overall election? This seems like the kind of thing that slides under the radar but would be interesting to know.

35 comments:

slumber_j said...

A key passage from that NY Post piece:

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner both have complained, according to people who have talked to them, that they are shut out of important decisions."

Anonymous said...

Many but not all the Clinton people hate the thugs from Chicago. The whole Michelle Obama "whitey" tape was a fiction cooked up a certain Clinton confidant, one well-known proponent of "third way" policies. They feel that Obama is a usurper, and they would rather have had him lose in 2008 thus opening the way for Hillary next year.

europeasant said...

Steve its about time you hosted a ISTEVE convention.Your viewership is growing and you need to get all the people together someplace.Maybe a sub-group meeting at a national Republican type rally.

Whiskey said...

Steve, I'm hearing all that stuff all over the place. Its from Obama supporters, Hillary hold-overs, and frustrated Dem officeholders in Congress and the Senate, along with Dem Governors and various big donors.

Obama has just checked out. He told one oilman, the guy running Continental Oil, in response to pushing US on-shore oil drilling, that Chu promised him electric cars in the next five years getting the equivalent of 130 MPG of gas.

Obama is not going back to being just some guy, he plans to remain First Rockstar by planning a self-coup. Bev Perdue, Friedman, the rest have floated canceling the elections, Obama figures he's got five Supreme Court votes, the Joint Chiefs, SEIU, New Black Panthers, and the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Plus likely Univision. He's been careful not to alienate them.

Whiskey said...

Re Hillary/Geithner being shut out of decisions. That's a huge mistake if you want to govern as a traditional President. Ike, Clinton, Reagan, all included inside-the-part Political Enemies into decisions, the least of which is that being part of it they were indebted to the President and could not stage mini-rebellions. That's how you build/maintain coalitions.

Obama is not good at that, interested in it, instead he needs cheering crowds (which are meaningless, see Presidents Robert Dole and Michael Dukakis) and close advisers. More to the point is how is Obama treating/threatening Univision. After all, Haim Saban is vulnerable to Obama doing things to him, like say opening up Justice Dept. investigations, hiring suits by the EEOC, FCC actions. That's the Chicago Way, I assume like with GE its been communicated.

Its like the Islamists, one man, one vote, one time. At least that's Obama's plan. A Fujimori self-coup. Otherwise he'd have the Clintons/Geithner on board, to "win ugly."

anecdotal said...

I catch the old noticias sometimes at the laundromat (nice break from the incredibly over-the-top, violent soap operas, though that may be Telemundo's province now). Am not proficient but still have some Spanish from my upbringing. Though I certainly can't detect any subtle ideological bias, the choice of stories and general packaging is easy to grasp regardless of fluency.

I have to say that overall they allocate only scant minutes to U.S. politics. There are always disasters and sporting events in the rest of the Hispanophone world that merit more time. Back during the various May Day marches they might have 3-4 minutes with scattered brief interviews. If somebody's watched a particularly damning Frost-Nixon confrontation on any of the Spanish channels, please do share because to me it seems similar to the Korean or Armenian news programs (10 seconds of Eric Holder shaking hands with somebody, followed by a hurricane over in Florida, followed by people in line at the Walmart/the post office/gas station, etc.)

Anonymous said...

The new president of Univision News since late 2010 is Isaac Lee, a recent (2000) immigrant from Colombia, where he was a hard-charging magazine editor. He has studied at Universidad de los Andes and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

According to Wiki,

"Isaac Lee, 40, is the President of News for Univision,[1] strategically and editorially overseeing programming and production across the Univision Networks, Univision Local Media and Univision Interactive Media. He was born in Bogota, Colombia - from Jewish immigrants - and has been a journalist and magazine editor Since the late 1990s. He currently lives in Miami, FL."

Anonymous said...

The new president of Univision News since late 2010 is Isaac Lee, a recent (2000) immigrant from Colombia

On Wikipedia it says that "He was born in Bogota, Colombia - from Jewish immigrants."

If people aren't even staying for longer than a generation, it doesn't make sense to call them "immigrants".

Jaime Romenesquo said...

I think the coverage of the non-English media is going to be quite irrelevant next year. The historical rule of a bad economy producing acute political consciousness seems to be faltering. I think it's eminently fair to consider how much of the lucrative Spanish-language market is taken up with normal pan-cultural time-filling stuff such as:

¡Raíces Latinas!

Did you know Uma Thurman was a great Hispanic celebrity? Talk about burying the lede...

David said...

Just ask the guy in the bumblebee suit who he likes better: Obama or [other]?

Maguro said...

One fantasy that's going around at present is that Obama will chuck it in and let Hillary be the Democratic nominee in 2012. (That seems extremely implausible to me.)

Agreed. It's just about as implausible as the idea that Hillary Clinton could bring peace to the middle east if only she could get elected.

RAH said...

More to the point is how is Obama treating/threatening Univision. After all, Haim Saban is vulnerable to Obama doing things to him, like say opening up Justice Dept. investigations, hiring suits by the EEOC, FCC actions. That's the Chicago Way, I assume like with GE its been communicated.

So Whiskey thinks Obama is the dirty player, and Saban is likely to be the innocent victim? You know, some people might start to think this Whiskey guy has an agenda.

Anonymous said...

This is MSM prepping everyone for Obama not seeking a second term.. like the person who gets canned but announces that he's resigning to 'spend more time with his family"?

Anonymous said...

Obama is not going back to being just some guy, he plans to remain First Rockstar by planning a self-coup. Bev Perdue, Friedman, the rest have floated canceling the elections, Obama figures he's got five Supreme Court votes, the Joint Chiefs, SEIU, New Black Panthers, and the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Plus likely Univision. He's been careful not to alienate them.


I imagine you have a vast cork-board covered with thumbtack-pinned photos, "documents", and multi-colored lengths of yarn diagramming all the various "connections".

anony-mouse said...

All that would be required to find out what was on Univision (instead of flat out guessing) would be to have a simple working knowledge of Spanish.

What with all the super duper High IQ people reading this blog, it should be easy enough to find somebody who could spare a few minutes to watch.

What? There aren't any super duper high IQ people here who have ever learned Spanish? How about Portuguese or Italian? People who learned those 2 languages should be able to get the gist of news on Univision.

Nobody? How could that be, super-brains?

I'm shocked.

Anonymous said...

As in London, black thugs lead, white boys follow.

TGGP said...

That might be one of the funniest Whiskey comments of the year. I will agree to send him $100 if the election is canceled. In return, he should promise that if it isn't he will mail Sailer whatever donation Whiskey finds sufficient, plus an apology for saying such ridiculous things to be posted at this blog. Is it a deal, or do even you not believe in the things you say?

Anonymous said...

High IQ people understand that if you want to learn a second language, that it should be used in many parts of the world. Portuguese is a better bet than spanish, as it is used everywhere spanish is, and many places spanish isn't.

fastest mouse in Mexico said...

Hey "anony-mouse" kudos for that stinging comment that really just put everyone in his place. Sailer was semi-mischievously positing the question because most Español TV is, just like its northerly equivalent, gossip-driven glamor drivel about celebrity babies and police chases. A quick Babelfish-assisted perusal of the archives of "Al Punto" would show you that the routine content of such is even dumber than MTP or The Jim Lehrer Snooze Hour: scripted encounters galore with ethnic heelers like Xavier Becerra or self-appointed race reps plus the occasional brief gassy monologue about the "EU" (well, not THAT EU, of course; it used to be easier when they stuck with the more precise EEUU) or a sit-down with Fidel/Hugo. If you're so interested in Ed Gillespie's latest message to the hombre en la calle, English is sufficient, help yourself.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey is so funny

Peter A said...

"High IQ people understand that if you want to learn a second language, that it should be used in many parts of the world."

Nah, high IQ people usually like to learn knowledge for its own sake. High IQ people tend to study either obscure languages like Welsh or Navajo, dead languages like Old Norse or Ancient Greek, or - if they have a more practical bent - "difficult" languages like Mandarin, Arabic or Russian. Spanish is what football players study.

Anonymous said...

Study Spanish?

Leaving aside J.L. Borges and Ortega y Gasset, when was the last time anybody said anything genuinely interesting in Spanish?

St. John of the Cross? Cervantes? Lope de Vega? Vida Es Sueno? Even in the Spanish Civil War, the reporting is mostly more interesting in English (Orwell, Hemingway et al) than in Spanish.

Help me out here. Maybe I'm missing something, you never know. And no, I don't think the Magic Realists have said very much that is genuinely "interesting". Even Octavio Paz is, eh, meh. Some funky avant-gardists I suppose, (Lorca, Cesar Vallejo, OK, but Neruda doesn't really rate for me) but then again every culture's got a handful of colorful crackpots in their attic, so what. Make mine a Mayakovsky, with a sprig of fresh Tanizaki on the rim. Hell, Pete Townshend is more fascinating, and he's just a rock star, we haven't even cracked the books yet on the anglo litterateurs.

And Carlos Fuentes? It is to larf.

Any fresh science en espanol that can't be found elsewhere? Any cutting-edge philosophy, I mean beyond silly Che/Evo Morales social justice hooey? Let me know if you're hip to it, I'm curious; skeptical but open-minded.

Why should I study Spanish? So I can understand the banal gossip of the cleaning lady on the Wilshire express bus while she yaps too loudly on a cellphone to her subliterate rellos in Guatemala?

Yeah. I'll sign up for some of those fascinating Continuing Ed courses right away.

Anonymous said...

The President does not appear to have had any one or two enduring "best friends" from his formative years. Too, there are some distinctive forms of mental depression. One is the kind of "loner" preference of the highly manipulative person. Such a person, BTW, plays heavily upon being a "blank screen". A real big problem is that a guy wired up this way maybe tends to feel that there is no life beyond the ultimate big time of the Oval Office. The President is an impressive image, but he does not ring very true. Folks catch on. Then he sees that they see. The fellow isn't gonna stay in the game.

Anonymous said...

Quick, somebody check to see who owns Telemundo and Galavision now.

And Al Jazeera!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I am agreeing with these tools, but I read Spanish very well and definitely understand spoken Spanish well enough to watch the news, and, well, yeah, Spanish language arts and media are really, really boring. I wish I'd studied French instead.

I like Spanish modernist poetry, that's something.

Anonymous said...

wow, that was a world-class bonkers Whiskey comment.

"SEIU, New Black Panthers, and the Occupy Wall Street crowd."

this is the most pathetic group of "coup" plotters one could ever assemble. Obama, who currently can't get a crappy jobs bill passed by his own party, will somehow try to cancel elections and become president for life? It's such a ludicrous idea that I wonder whether Whiskey thinks Captain Crunch is talking to him sometimes at the breakfast table.

Anonymous said...

"Obama is not going back to being just some guy...
********************************
Anyone doing a half competent psychological profiling of the President using a good program would
write this in CAPS. The President's psychodynamics do not easily allow of any life after the pinnacle experiences of the Oval Office ( and that's no allusion to Monica, folks)

funnier than Steve said...

" I wish I'd studied French instead."

Hey, I'm all about Unamuno y La/el? generacion de 1898 but I kinda wish I'd stuck with Latin since I was too old to get fluent in something anyway. Otherwise, definitely Russian or German. ;0)

triffid said...

'"Obama is not going back to being just some guy...
********************************
Anyone doing a half competent psychological profiling of the President using a good program would
write this in CAPS.'

OK, yeah, but we've got about 5 years before the stark realization sets in. Let's not worry about it till we have to.

NOTA said...

Anóny-mouse:

Es verdad. Nadie aquí entiende español, y no somos capaz de ver a las noticias de Univisión.

Normalmente, no me gusta ver las noticias en televisión. Hasta los mejores fuentes de noticias en el televisión dejan muchos detalles de sus historias, y prefieren imágenes emocionantes a ideas y datos. Pero a menos Univisión tiene mujeres atractivas leyendo las noticias. Tal vez pasaré mas tiempo viendo esas noticias por el internet....

NOTA said...

At last, a conspiracy theory even lamer than the ones involving the UN taking us over and taking away all our guns.

Anonymous said...

If you guys think that Obama is going to bow out without a fight then you all are delusional. The fascist left is going to make sure that Obama is reelected you all just sit back and watch.

Truth said...

¡Yo trabajé for Univision tres años, Cabrones!

angry plant said...

"Pero a menos Univisión tiene mujeres atractivas leyendo las noticias."

Compared to what? The guy in the bumblebee outfit??

Anonymous said...

"We've got about five years..."
************************************
He's not gonna make it in 12, if he even stays in the race. And "we" may well be on the tip of an implosion not broadly different from what happened to the USSR about 1990?
The guy's not real. And when the flooring is giving way, acts like his tend to disintegrate. Stay tuned.