Word broke this week that the Republican-backed and misleadingly named group “Latinos for Reform” was set to air Spanish-language ads on Univision telling Latino voters, “Don’t vote.” We called the ads — done by a group that attacked Obama in 2008 on race– an ugly, overt attempt at voter suppression.
Yesterday Think Progress pointed out Univision’s positive record on encouraging voting and questioned their initial decision to run the ads. They later posted this update, from a Univision spokesperson:
Univision will not be running any spots from Latinos for Reform related to voting. It is also important to clarify that while Mr. Robert de Posada has on occasion provided political commentary on Univision, representing one of various points of views, he is not in any way affiliated with Univision. Univision prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote.
Well today, via the Associated Press, de Posada is threatening to sue Univision for turning down his ad:
“Robert de Posada, the founder of Latinos for Reform, said he is trying to determine whether he can legally challenge Univision, which approved the commercials Friday. ‘It is a very sad moment where you cannot have discourse in the Spanish market,’ he said. ‘Obviously, my First Amendment rights have been violated.’”
Think Progress blogger Andrea Nill argues:
It doesn’t take a constitutional lawyer to figure out that there’s a difference between the government regulating freedom of expression and Univision telling de Posada to take back his $80,000 ad spot and freely air his views somewhere else. If anything, the network is exercising its freedom of speech by not airing an ad that fundamentally compromises the best interests of its viewers.
Nill also notes:
Networks turn down ads all the time. Sometimes, we don’t like it. Other times, we do
Very true. Just last fall, CNN refused to run our Drop Dobbs ad taking on Lou Dobbs for unfair (and untrue) immigration rhetoric.
In any case, the ads are certainly creating “discourse” in the affected communities – it just may not be the kind of discourse Mr. de Posada was hoping for. The ads have been strongly condemned by a diverse array of Latino leaders, organizations, bloggers, unions, and coalitions.