December 11, 2023

As you know, there is an ongoing meltdown over the TelevisaUnvision’s interview with former President Donald Trump. As we explained, there is also a sense of grief along the Professional Latinx political class, which includes members of Spanish-language media. As this interview with former Univision and Telemundo anchor María Celeste Arrarás shows, some are in the anger stage of dealing with fallout from the interview.

Watch as Arrarás calmly explains that Latinos are unable to view and process facts as presented to them, without media “context” and “nuance”:

Let me translate this for you. When she says “no matter how intelligent they are”, Arrarás really means that Hispanics are “not intelligent enough” to be trusted to analyze the news of the day for themselves, and therefore need it spoon-fed and filtered to them with a Democrat lens through approved gatekeeper institutions. Although one always suspects that the media have deep-seated contempt for their viewing public, it is nonetheless surprising to hear someone express that contempt out loud. 

This is the main argument against the Televisa-Trump interview- this perceived loss of air supremacy on a cornerstone institution of the Latino Grievance Industrial Complex. What Arrarás is arguing for is for Spanish-language media to continue to alter the perceptions (and therefore, the reality) of their viewers; unchecked, unabated, and unopposed. 

Arrarás’ bit on foreign undue influence is also hilarious, primarily because no one bothered to complain about “undue foreign influence” when Univision was out there doing all the disinformation on behalf of Democrats. But book ONE interview with Donald Trump and everyone loses their minds. 

The last time we bothered to look at what Arrarás was up to, she was openly lobbying to be picked as Charlie Crist’s running mate. While an anchor at Telemundo, she was a reliable partisan Democrat, with constant attacks on conservatives, and a particular servility towards Hillary Clinton. Look at that interview transcript. I challenge you to find a tough question. So of course, this highly partisan former network anchor is the subject matter expert selected to cluck her tongue at the conflicts posed by the Televisa-Trump interview.

Speaking of undue hardships, it should be noted that CNN En Español indulged Arrarás’ rantings for over 15 minutes. Below is the transcript, should you choose to suffer through her ramblings as I did. But do not feel bad for me. As Hyman Roth said to Michael Corleone: 

This is the business we’ve chosen.

Click “expand” to view the full transcript of the aforementioned interview as aired on CNN En Español Directo USA on Friday, November 17th, 2023:

LEON KRAUZE: Friends, yesterday after 13 very fruitful years I stopped working with Noticias Univisión. For me it has been a privilege to work with this great group of journalists. I depart with great gratitude to my colleagues and friends in Los Angeles with whom I built community journalism as a way of life. I depart with great gratitude…

JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ: His name is León Krauze and he is, or was, one of the main anchors at the Univisión network. Surprisingly, this week he announced that he was leaving the network on very good terms with the company, and the company in a statement bade farewell on very good terms. But this comes at a time when articles appear in American media such as this one, from The Washington Post. The Washington Post’s article highlights what it says, what some have perceived, is a shift in Univision’s approach towards Donald Trump, who was given an hour-long interview the same night last week, which generated much controversy. We are going to talk about that interview, about the treatment of Trump, about the issues it brings up and about the possible implications with María Celeste Arrarás, journalist, anchor – she has worked at Univisión, Telemundo and CNN. María Celeste, thank you for joining us. You have been expressing your reaction to this interview by our colleague Enrique Acevedo with Donald Trump, an hour-long interview that for many was very soft, did not confront him, and gave him a platform. What is your reaction to that interview, and does this mark a shift for Univision?

MARIA CELESTE ARRARAS: Look, it marks a big shift. I tell you Juan Carlos, thank you for the invitation, that I usually do not talk about the work of colleagues because it is not proper and each one has their own style for interviewing. What happens is that this is an issue that goes beyond the interviewer, beyond you, beyond me. This is in the context of how freedom of the press is in danger, as all of this is within the framework of a very powerful company that is Televisa, which is the owner of Univision, and that, as everyone knows because it is part of the vox populi, Televisa has been a company in Mexico that for decades has used its programming and its power to manipulate politicians, to manipulate the audience, and to take advantage of that monopoly that it had for decades by, well, applying a heavy hand on politicians in to receive favor from them. In exchange- in exchange for that, well, they favored them with their programming. Now that Televisa is in full control of Univision, there is concern that Univision’s editorial sovereignty will change. And why change? There have been many very troubling things with this interview that took place a few days ago, the exclusive that Donald Trump gave to Univision. Again, and I want to clarify, that this is not professional jealousy. I have interviewed Donald Trump as a presidential candidate in the past elections, I have interviewed Hillary Clinton, I have interviewed many presidential candidates and I have treated them all with the same standard, because that is our job. And everyone gets asked tough questions because that’s our job. It doesn’t matter who you, on a personal level, agree or disagree with. When you’re in front of that camera you have to ask the questions that are important to the audience. So what happens? Many troubling things happened in this interview. Number one, the interview was extremely soft. During the interview Donald Trump said many things that were false, that were never challenged or questioned, nor was he presented – and they are false things because there is conclusive evidence through courts, legal and legislative issues, investigations that have been done at all levels that are proven and that he was not questioned about. And I reiterate, each reporter has their own style of interviewing. But when they are telling you something that you know correctly is not correct, you have to, in a respectful way, debate it, and let that person, well, defend himself with his arguments. And then the People, the viewer, will decide. It doesn’t matter what party it is. That is first. What is most troubling about all this is that during this interview that took place at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s residence here in Florida, three senior executives from Televisa were present. The most senior ones. That is, the three top big bosses of Televisa were there. They were a few steps away from the interviewer which puts, in my opinion, undue pressure on the journalist who is conducting that interview. Well, when you have your three bosses there and you discover, because it is already something that has become known, that these three individuals have a very close relationship with Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and in turn have become friends with Donald Trump, and they are all there, well, the journalist cannot be relaxed (enough) to think clearly, I would tell you. There are very few people who could do it. And everything has been said – it has been said that during that interview, well, they were giving him instructions on what to ask and what not to ask. I don’t know that, but it is something that is being talked about within the journalistic industry. It is also troubling that during the interview, it was made even more obvious that Donald Trump himself said, “well, here are your bosses who are great businessmen, great men…”, that is, he lavished a lot of praise upon these three executives who were there, which, well, shows that there is a direct association. In fact, there are even those who say that during the time of the White House, when Trump was in power, and he had to find something out or come to some kind of term with the Mexican government, he often did so through these executives and not directly with the advisors to the president. And these are troublesome things. Why? Because the last thing we want is to have a foreign company with its own agenda, whatever it may be, exerting, if that’s the case, undue pressure on the electoral process. How do you exercise (undue pressure)? Well, we clearly know that here in the United States, Univision is the number one network with the highest audience among Latinos, who are the key bloc for any election. So, if these Latinos, no matter how intelligent they are, only see one side of what the news is and do not see it in its entirety, then obviously that is going to alter their perception and, therefore, their reality. So, all of this is what we are observing, and what is being done here is to try to protect the integrity of the electoral process that we all want to protect, whether it is Biden, whether it is Trump, whether it is the mayor of whatever town. All of this is something that we, especially journalists, have to protect. And I tell you – it is not by chance that the Federal Communications Agency(sic) of the United States, when it is going to look at a merger between two media companies, automatically intervenes to make sure that there is not going to be a monopoly, that these undue influences are not going to happen due to these interests that conflict with those of the United States and what freedom of the press is. And that’s why this happens.

LÓPEZ: María Celeste, we have to put in…

ARRARAS: Tell me.

LOPEZ: We have to put something in context. First, TelevisaUnivision is an American company, it is the merger of Televisa and Univision, but it is an American company.

ARRARAS: Correct.

LÓPEZ: I don’t know Enrique Acevedo, but he has said that he limits himself to asking questions and, you have said it and I attest to it, we have colleagues at Univision, we worked there, you worked at Telemundo – we know the quality of the professionals that are there. The goal of this interview is not to cast doubt upon their reputation or the work they do.

ARRARAS: Sure.

LOPEZ: But there is something that catches my attention. CNN, the network I work for, held a forum with Donald Trump that received a lot of criticism similar to that which was leveled against Univision. NBC did an interview that also received a lot of criticism because it is considered that (Trump) was also given a platform. Is Univision being measured with a different standard when we have a phenomenon in the United States such as the Fox network that is owned by an Australian tycoon who became a citizen of the United States and that does not respect the journalistic purposes ? Is it different with Univision? Because Haim Saban, who controlled Univision, was very close to Hillary Clinton. And in political circles it was said, “the coverage is favorable to Hillary Clinton because the owner of Univision wants it to be that way.”

ARRARAS: You are absolutely right. That is, when there is a boss, or whatever, who has to do with an extremely strong party and intervenes, that has to be said no matter who it is. Now, I never remember hearing that, in Saban’s case, he got in the middle of an interview. I interviewed Hillary Clinton when she was a presidential candidate and no boss sat down a few steps away from me, or gave me instructions on how to ask or what to ask, much less to be next to me exerting that silent pressure that there is, when you realize, in the event that it had been the case that the boss was a close friend of hers. It would have caused me a lot of discomfort. Although I would have continued with my interview regardless, but not everyone acts that way. The difference in all this was that when you have a candidate, in addition to everything, like Donald Trump, who has four serious, ultra-serious charges, in different forums and for different reasons, for the first time in the history of a president or former president of the United States, and he has not been in any debate, and he has barely given interviews since he launched as a candidate and you have him all to yourself with so many things going on, you cannot do an interview where you are basically saying, “what a good job, whatever have you” and smiling every time he answers you. Our job is not to render worship to any candidate of whatever party. Our job is to hold accountable and ask the tough questions that need to be asked so that the public can then make the decision. So, they are different issues. And we are not talking about one – for example, in what happened with the CNN forum, there were particularities that could also be criticized and at the time they were. We must hold ourselves accountable as journalists, because no one is exempt from making mistakes. But that’s why it’s healthy, that we have to try to improve our way of interviewing, our way of questioning, our – we have to support ourselves so as not be afraid to ask difficult questions, to interrupt, whether it’s the president or the astronaut on the moon. Our job is not to be liked like chocolate because we are not chocolate. Our job is to ask the questions that need to be asked.

LOPEZ: And I know…And I know it, because I have also interviewed Hillary Clinton when she was a candidate and other candidates and there was never a CNN executive there.

ARRARAS: Correct.

LOPEZ: And perhaps something that draws attention in this case was Univision’s decision, according to The Washington Post’s article, to suspend the sale of advertising, in key states, for the Biden campaign and, according to the article, suspending a reaction interview from the Biden campaign, citing a new rule that did not (previously) exist. Do you think that pressure could lead Univision to do things differently, or as you said, do you compare it to how it happens in other countries, where (business) interests outweigh journalism?

ARRARAS: Well, look. You mentioned two very important things that go beyond whether the interview was soft or if it was tough or… that’s one part. Because that is something that is troubling, but these two points that you just made are even more concerning. Number one; during campaigns – during presidential interviews it has always been customary that during commercial breaks the rival candidate, knowing that the interview is coming, buys spots so that during the interview you have, well, the other candidate’s version, or a presence of the other or a reminder of the other, and that it is not simply a monologue of the candidate who is being interviewed. When I interviewed Hillary Clinton, I remember watching the interview on television at home, it was pre-recorded, and I remember watching the Donald Trump commercials during the programming. It’s part of what you expect, part of what usually happens. For this interview, for the first time suddenly, Univision decides to suspend the ads that were already scheduled by the Biden campaign, already purchased – suddenly cancels them. What was this, a demand by Team Trump? Was it something that the Televisa executives, because he is their friend, wanted to remove? I mean, I don’t have the answer, but I can tell you that it is extremely suspicious and concerning. And lastly, what you also mentioned. In these speeches it is always customary, not always, but a large number of times it is customary to have, and especially with something as important as Trump’s, to have a rebuttal after an interview where the opposing party presents the person they choose to shed light on the other version of the story. That is, if Donald Trump says it is green and they believe it is blue, they explain why they believe blue is the color and it is not green. And during this interview it had been stated that the Democratic Party had already chosen a spokesperson who was going to refute what happened in the interview with Donald Trump and they also canceled it at the last minute, which according to the newspaper, has naturally created great displeasure within the Democratic campaign. So, these are things that are worrying because even when there is a State of the Union presidential address in the United States, when the president speaks before Congress and says his version of what is – what is happening In the country, in the end the Democratic Party or the Republican Party comes out, depending on whether the president is the opposition party and gives their analysis of why it is true or a lie. That is part of what democracy is and that we viewers, apart from being journalists, are also viewers, we have all the elements of judgment to make the correct decision for our vote. This is a healthy thing for everyone. It’s healthy for Democrats, for Republicans. It’s healthy for democracy and that’s what I’m trying to point out. I worked, as you said, at Telemundo, at Univisión, I have worked with CNN, I have remained on good terms with all the companies I have worked with. And I’m not doing this because it bothers me that I didn’t have the interview, because I have already interviewed them all, nor because I feel like I want to be relevant. For me this is something that touches me very deeply because it is the philosophy of journalism in which I believe that it has to be as objective, and clear and transparent as possible, with accuracy and facts. Not with inventions.

LOPEZ: And note that there are some aspects of journalism that are not complicated. If one hears lies, simply highlight that they are lies and clarify which fact is correct. That’s not so difficult. Thank you so much. María Celeste Arrarás joins us from Miami, thank you very much for being on Directo USA.

ARRARAS: To you, Juan Carlos. Thank you.