Are Latino Men the Victims of ‘Racialized Disinformation’?

NBC News Latino complains Latinos are not getting their news from NBC Latino

By Andrew R. Arthur on May 10, 2022

On April 13, NBC Latino ran an article with the sensational headline “Young Latino men may be 'easy targets' for disinformation on immigration, report says”. Read more deeply into that article, however, and you will find that what the outlet is complaining about is that (1) Latino men in the United States share much in common with other Americans in the same demographic; and (2) many Latino men are not getting their news from NBC Latino.

The report in question is from “United We Dream Action” (UDWA), which bills itself as:

[T]he largest immigrant and youth-led network in the United States with a goal of creating a political and organizing home for Latinx people and immigrants broadly to enact the changes our communities need and deserve, while advancing a vision of racial and immigrant justice.

As I have noted more times that I can count, I eschew such pigeonholing as “Latinx people” when describing my fellow Americans, and there is nothing in this report to disabuse me of that.

The UDWA “is the lobbying, advocacy and electoral arm of United We Dream”, which in turn is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. In other words, UDWA is the 501(c)(4) for United We Dream, which allows UDWA “to engage in political lobbying and political campaign activities”, unlike United We Dream itself.

That should be a clue that UDWA is trying to sell you something. And given the fact that Gallup has determined that just 4 percent of Hispanic Americans prefer the term used in that report (“Latinx”, which is a "non-gendered, nonbinary, inclusive way of pushing back against the default masculine in Spanish"), you may have an idea what they are selling.

Which brings me back to NBC Latino. As the outlet explains, the primary focus of that UDWA report was examining the “consumption habits” of young Latinos to determine how they “encounter stories about immigration in U.S. media”.

Latinas under the age of 35, the report found, “consume a wide variety of cultural channels” and are more likely to “use TV and film to interrogate the complexity of human relationships”. They are also “more likely to seek out human interest stories about immigrants, not just immigration policy”.

Latino men in the same demographic, on the other hand, usually don’t go looking for information on immigrants and immigration, receiving such information only incidentally. Thus, the report concludes: “This content vacuum puts them at risk of passively consuming anti-immigrant content as bystanders."

Allow me to put that into English for you. Like most Americans, those young Latino adults aren’t focused on immigration as an issue, except to the degree that it affects their lives. Instead, they learn about immigration issues through their everyday lives. That’s likely because many don’t view themselves as immigrants, especially if they are fifth generation Tejanos.

Their identity likely does not revolve around their ancestry, either. As NBC News Latino explains: “Entrepreneurialism and the ‘hustle’ mentality are among the main values that define the kind of content Latino men under 35 seek out.” “The American Dream” usually means economic betterment of oneself and family, so in that, those young Latino adults are not different from most motivated members of our populace.

The report takes a slightly dimmer view, though, asserting: “This vacuum of immigrant content along with their concerns about the economy, and penchant for individualism, make them easy targets for racialized disinformation about the role of immigrants in this country”.

Most sensible Americans are concerned about the dismal state of the U.S. economy, while “individualism” — roughly defined as a “political and social philosophy that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual” — is a good thing, and one of the foundations on which this country was built.

What about older Hispanic adults? The report explains that they are the “audience most likely to encounter polarizing and anti-immigration stories”, with Latino males aged 37 and above viewing such stories primarily “on TV and YouTube from right-wing sources, such as ‘OAN News’ and ‘Fox & Friends’”.

I will confess that I am not an avid consumer of NBC News Latino, but a quick review of its home page reveals that it is heavy on news reporting from Central and South America, along with analysis of how domestic political and cultural issues are viewed in the Hispanic community in the United States.

Thus, if you are too busy trying to run a small business to care much about how a wildfire in New Mexico “threatens ‘cultural genocide’ of Indo-Hispano history” or about the fact that the shirt worn by an Argentine soccer player nearly 36 years ago in a World Cup match against England recently fetched a record $9.3 million at auction, you likely don’t have the site bookmarked.

None of this is to say that I, too, am not concerned about historical landmarks or have not watched Diego Maradona’s 1986 “Hand of God” goal and would place his jersey in a place of honor in my house if I had it, but raising a family and holding down a job are my primary concerns, and almost definitely the main focus of those Latino males, too.

With respect to both NBC Latino and the UWDA study, much of what each frets over would in most situations be considered positive progress toward the full assimilation of an ethnic group in the United States — the sort of progress visionaries like civil rights icon (and then-Chairwoman of President Clinton’s Commission on Immigration Reform) Barbara Jordan dreamed about more than 20 years ago.

The Center and I are proponents of immigration. We believe, however, that it should be done legally, subject to limits set by Congress, and first and foremost serve the interests of the United States. There are no better exemplars of the benefits of immigration than members of immigrant groups with an entrepreneurial bent, a “hustle mentality”, and an individualist outlook.

The headline of the NBC News Latino article notwithstanding, when viewed objectively, nothing therein or in the report it references suggests that Latino men are easy targets for immigration disinformation. Rather, they are just like their fellow Americans — even if they are not getting their news from NBC News Latino.