Getting the jackboot from The Donald — no badge of honor, as it may have seemed to some like-minded correspondents at the 1968 Democratic National Convention — appeared to reignite Ramos’ ambitions, and take his anchor brand as the “Latino Walter Cronkite” beyond his aging Hispanic fan base. As NPR’s David Folkenflik recently noticed, Ramos “chases three quarries: voters, viewers and relevance.”
Part of the Ramos plan is to embrace Facebook’s recently unveiled feature, Facebook Live, to reach a digital native audience that spends relatively little time getting news from TV. The numbers have been striking for these unvarnished video streams of Ramos on the campaign trail. On the night of the Iowa Caucuses, his Facebook Live communiques were viewed by 2.6 million people. On New Hampshire primary day, three long live reports on the platform were watched 4 million times.
I figure that this is quite a different audience than the one that watches Ramos as co-anchor of Univision’s signature nightly newscast “Noticiero,” or the Sunday public affairs show “Al Punto,” as well as his weekly news magazine show “America” on Univision’s English-language sister network Fusion.
The emergence of Ramos as a 57-year-old Facebook video Latino news superstar is happening in tandem with a multiplatform Univision drive to register Hispanic voters, dubbed “Vote for America.”
This does not bode well for Master Trump. As Ramos recently told The New York Times, legions of young Latino voters are getting involved in presidential politics because of Donald Trump — “not because they like Donald Trump, but because they want to vote against him.”
The one-two punch of Univision’s voter registration drive and Ramos’ social media advocacy journalism is a savvy way to expand the company’s audience and brand. It’s reminiscent of MTV’s efforts in consort with “Rock the Vote” during the 1992 White House race, which brought tens of thousands of new voters to the polls, with one William Jefferson Clinton the main beneficiary. Ironic that Univision’s efforts may do likewise a quarter-century later for Hillary Clinton.
So there are charges from the GOP that Univision is in the tank for the Democrats, especially given that Haim Saban, who controls Univision, is is big Hillary supporter. In addition, Ramos’ daughter has been working on the Clinton campaign.
It would be naive to say all of that isn’t a factor, but most central is that Univision’s “Vote for America” campaign, at its essence, is a case of smart public service marketing. The advocacy journalism of Ramos is in in sync with the Univision community, and an expert use of social media video tools across platforms, aimed at what has long been noted as a community vastly tapped into the Web.
But make no mistake: Univision’s voter registration drive does not bode well for Trump’s primary rivals for the Republican nomination, either. Marco Rubio may share a Florida base with Ramos and Univision and be the son of Cuban immigrants, and Ted Cruz’s father may be Cuban. Still, both men support the same relentlessly oppressive immigration policies that put them out of step with much of the diverse Latino community that is the Univision base.
In 2012, President Obama garnered 71% of the Latino vote, and it’s a pretty good bet that none of the current GOP field will do much better in November. And if it’s The Donald, I think it’s even better odds that the Democrats rack up even bigger numbers from Hispanic voters.
Earlier this week, when Univision announced its “Vote for America” campaign, it made me wonder how you say “schadenfreude” in Spanish? If I run into Jorge Ramos, I will be sure to ask him. If he doesn’t know the word, he certainly knows the feeling. If not for Trump’s schadenfreude-ian slip, there’s a chance none of this would have happened. But it has, and maybe that will help make American great again.