On Thursday evening's Univision newscast, anchorman Jorge Ramos described the scuffle that broke out between Donald Trump supporters and advocates for illegal immigrants at a Trump rally on Wednesday as "an example of the tension created by the campaign and the polarization in the country."
The scuffle began when a small group of protesters, unfurling a banner that read "No Human Life is Illegal", sought to disrupt Trump's speech. There was pushing, shoving, and shouting for a few minutes until police intervened. The incident received little national attention. But for Univision, where immigration reporting is the top priority, it was a major story.
Univision reporter Luis Megid showed a clip of Trump as he sought to calm his supporters by declaring, "That's why we have freedom of speech, folks." Picking up on that thought, Megid said, "What worries many isn't a lack of freedom of expression, but the tone that the political discussion has taken on."
Megid noted that Trump's sustained leadership in opinion polls suggests that he has a real chance of becoming president. Then his story took a turn that has become commonplace on Univision as it seeks to mobilize its audience for political action. It went to a Latinos-on-the-street clip that included this observation: "We are now realizing that this is something important, that we have to stress the value of the vote and educate ourselves about the politics of the United States."
Megid closed the story with this: "Whether or not Trump becomes president, the polarization and division that exist in the country are real, and this has to be taken seriously."
The same newscast included an example of how Univision itself sometimes aggravates the polarization and widens the division by distorting the views of those who oppose illegal immigration. Enrique Acevedo, anchor of Univision's late-night newscast "Edicion Nocturna", previewed a story about an ad that was shown during a break in Tuesday's Democratic presidential campaign debate. Acevedo said the 30-second ad, produced and sponsored by Californians for Population Stabilization, "blames immigrants for all the problems the state is suffering."
That observation was a distortion. The story on Edicion Nocturna was just as troublesome. More on that next time.