Last Thursday, Enrique Acevedo, the anchor of Univision's late-night "Edicion Nocturna" newscast, briefly appeared on the network's evening news to promote his upcoming program. He said viewers would see a story about an ad that ran during the Democratic presidential debate earlier in the week. He claimed the ad, from a group that seeks to reduce immigration, especially to California, "blames immigrants for all the problems that the state is suffering".
There were two problems with the story that was broadcast that night. First, the ad reported on was not the ad that had been broadcast during the debate. Instead, what Univision viewers saw were clips from an ad that had been broadcast back in June and claimed that virtually all of California's population growth was the result of immigration.
The ad seen by those who watched the Democratic debate in the markets targeted by CAPS discussed the "anchor baby" phenomenon, i.e. the birth of children to illegal immigrants who can then claim welfare, housing, and health benefits for their citizen newborns.
Both ads were the work of California for Population Stabilization (CAPS), which calls for reduced immigration in order to restrain what the group describes as the state's runaway population growth.
Univision's mistake was innocent enough. It was an example of the sort of careless reporting that most commonly under occurs under the pressure of a deadline. Any reporter can sympathize.
What is more difficult to excuse was Acevedo's gratuitous and inaccurate comment in the promo. Far from blaming all of California's problems on immigrants, the ad his program showed called for a reduction of immigration in order to ease the state's population growth and water crisis.
A more offensive mis-characterization came from activist Flavia Jimenez, who blasted the ad as "a racial and ethnic attack against the Latino community". Jimenez, an immigrant from Peru, runs the Advancement Project, an organization that works to mobilize the Latino vote. It is largely funded by liberal foundations, including the Carnegie Corporation.
Jimenez added this call to action, which she said was the only available course of action: "It is to mobilize, to vote if we can, become citizens, and present solutions."
If Ms. Jimenez wants to present solutions, she could begin by not inflaming the discussion with unfounded accusations of racism. Univision, meanwhile, should provide more accuracy from its reporters and more professionalism from its news anchors. More light and less heat would be a public service to its viewers and to the entire nation.