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Hispanics and network news

If a journalist dropped in from Mars Sunday morning and watched NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Fox’s “Fox News Sunday” his copy would read Blacks must be 50 percent of the population as depicted by Meet The Press’s panel of journalists (two journalists, one radio talk show host and one Mayor) or that all Americans must be White Anglo Saxons as the Fox News Sunday panel consisted of 100 percent White Anglos.

His last paragraph would read that there are no Hispanics in America because none appeared on either program, ditto Fox’s Wall Street Week and Neil Cavuto’s daily program on the Fox News Channel.

Once in a while a Hispanic appears on one of these shows but not often. Bill O’Reilly on the other hand has Hispanics on all the time. Cuban American Alex Ferre appears regularly on the new Fox morning show, “Outnumbered” and is joined once in a while by a Hispanic woman but not often.

Why such a paucity of Hispanics on NBC and Fox? I don’t know about the other networks because I don’t watch them much. MSNBC is a joke. CBS does “60 Minutes” well but that is all I watch of CBS News. ABC is trash as far as I am concerned. And, CNN, which I used to watch religiously 20 years ago, has sunk into a laughable quicksand. It fired Cuban American midday anchor Rick Sanchez because of something he said on the radio it didn’t like. That is not unusual. National Public Radio (NPR) fired Black commentator Juan Williams because he said he was uncomfortable when he saw Muslim-looking men boarding his airplane. So do most Americans but NPR fired him, anyway.

It is no surprise that Fox is watched by double the audiences of CNN and MSNBC. One reason, it hired Williams.

The paucity of Hispanics on these networks is the basic cause of why these networks fail at covering serious issues that affect the country’s largest “minority” group. Apparently these networks didn’t get the Census Bureau news release that Hispanics – an ethnicity, not a race and they can be of any race – now number 54 million people and are growing at a rate that will soon make them 25 percent of the population.

Examples of shortcomings of the news with regard to Hispanics:

Fox’s Neil Cavuto does not interview Hispanics on issues like immigration. He has octogenarian Sheriff Joe from Phoenix on to promote his immigration law suit against the federal government that the court threw out within days. Didn’t see Cavuto report that the court had thrown Sheriff Joe’s silly law suit out the first day it could.

Furthermore, Cavuto regularly has spokespeople on from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) to comment about immigration without disclosing that it is an anti-immigration group founded by what the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC, Killer of the KKK in courts) calls the country’s biggest “Bigot” and CIS a “hate group.”

It also wants to restrict legal immigration on top of “fighting” illegal immigration. He does not disclose these facts. He also does not schedule pro-immigrant people to balance out the CIS people or Sheriff Joe.

Nor does he report that Sheriff Joe has been keel-hauled by several federal courts and had his legal ability to chase illegals in Phoenix taken away by federal courts.

Fox’s O’Reilly has Hispanics on regularly to discuss problems that are important to all but need Hispanic views because they know the issue best. He has them on from both sides of an issue; that makes good television. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why O’Reilly leads all cable news in audience and ratings.

Feedback on network news from many Hispanics is disheartening because they reflect a liberal/conservative split that really doesn’t apply. Many provide knee-jerk hate-Fox observations that are juvenile and ignorant. Sure they can join me in criticizing Fox’s shortcomings as I see them, but to blanket all Fox as anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic because that is what they are supposed to think and say, leaves much to be desired.

If they watched all the news programs that ignore Hispanics they could raise a collective voice that might be listened to but as long as they don’t and just use critiques written by others they will never have impact.  

Networks, take note. Cover Hispanics better or don’t grow. There’s a reason why Univision has the audience it does. In places like Los Angeles Univison news does better than NBC, CBS or ABC in vital audience demographic groups.

Certainly Fox News Sunday and NBC’s Meet the Press can find articulate Hispanics to comment on the news of the day. There are two Hispanic U.S. Senators and two Hispanic governors, eight Hispanic Republican congressmen and 23 Democrat Congress people. Additionally there are state legislators, judges and even a journalist or two who can make the time to comment on issues.

Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate