Latino network Univision has challenged the “marketplace of ideas” role for broadcasters in the US by pulling an attack ad aimed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is fighting a neck-and neck battle in the polls against Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle in Nevada.
The ad tells Latinos to stay home on Election Day, because not voting at all is the only way not to send Congress “a clear message" on immigration reform.
Univision aired the ad only five times in the heavily Hispanic state, but soon found itself drowning in a sea of outrage from Latinos who felt the ad was urging a complete disenfranchisement of the Hispanic vote. Univision agreed, given its viewership, and pulled the ad without publicity.
It's an unusual move for a network to get involved in political debate in the US. In fact, the FCC mandates that stations must provide 'equal opportunity' for candidates for the same office to ad time. And 'reasonable access' is guaranteed to federal candidates like Angle and Reid, especially as Election Day nears.
"Latinos for Reform," a conservative shell group based in Virginia, created the spot and defended it, saying that no one should have to choose between two candidates that don’t have their core interests at heart. Reid and Angle are both scoring low marks among the Latino demographic for their views and lack of activity when it comes to immigration reform.
Angle’s been ‘brewing’ up trouble among the state’s 130,000 registered Hispanic voters for weeks now, most recently telling Hispanic high-schoolers that “some of you look a little more Asian to me." She was referring to another controversial ad that Univision allowed to run, which shows a group of dark-skinned men coming over the border in a menacing fashion.
"I think that you're misinterpreting those commercials," she said. "I'm not sure that those are Latinos in that commercial. What it is, is a fence, and there are people coming across that fence." Her point was that the men could in fact be Asian, because dark is dark. No word yet on how the Asian voters of Nevada feel about being depicted as coyotes, but we’re staying tuned.