Democrats Are Sniveling About Attacks on Kamala Harris on Spanish Talk Radio in Florida but the Story Doesn't Add Up

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

There has been a lot of talk about the widespread flight of Latinx Hispanic voters from the Democrat party. I’m not sure they are re-registering as Republicans, but they are de-registering as Democrats. Hispanic voters are also telling pollsters that they favor Republican candidates.

My colleagues have covered this story here The Democrats Continue to Repel Their Hispanic Minority Base, here Hispanic Voters Deliver the Devastating News Democrats Have Been Dreading, and here Memo to Democrat Party: Hispanic Voters Are Abandoning You in Droves and Now We Know Why.

In particular, the Democrats are hitting the panic button is in Florida. But they are hitting it over a curious issue.

If you’ve listened to AM talk radio at all, you have learned to recognize what the late, great Rush Limbaugh termed “seminar’ callers.

The term “seminar caller” was coined by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh by at least July 1996. A “seminar caller” makes an “astroturfed” call to a radio talk show. The caller pretends to be an unbiased regular citizen, but then recites talking points that are contrary to the talk radio host’s political philosophy. “Seminar callers” are also called “plants.”

The word “seminar” supposedly comes from Democratic party seminars, but has become effectively outdated by technology. Most talking points are now from emails and political blogs and political websites, not from seminars. The term “seminar caller” is still used, especially among conservative radio talk show hosts.

You also learn to recognize them when moderating a comments section. While Rush referred to them in the sense of Democrats calling into his show, it works both ways. Political operatives can call into conservative shows and support whatever the latest craziness the GOP has come up with.

This from Politico:

Florida Democrats are sounding alarms over what they believe is a sustained and coordinated campaign rapidly unfolding across Spanish-language media to tarnish the image of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Democratic veterans in the state are unnerved by the ferocity and speed of the attacks, which have come from callers and guests on local radio programs in recent weeks. They suspect the participants are part of a larger, astroturf effort to diminish Harris’ standing among key Latino constituencies in a region where Republicans have notched sharp gains. Even more worrying for these Democrats has been the lack of pushback from their party.

Kamala Harris’ problem is remarkably easy to understand. The Blaze’s Shemeka Michelle nails it:

Politico’s Christopher Cadelago and Eugene Daniels use about 1500 words to describe a problem that has only been noticed by a Democrat pollster and a handful of activists.

Why one might ask, would the Democrats befoul themselves over callers to a Florida radio show talking smack about Kamala Harris?

In POLITICO’s review of two prominent Spanish-language stations, hosts and callers sharing critiques of Biden still outnumbered Harris. There were sporadic attacks on Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, too.

Still, Roberto Rodríguez Tejera, a morning radio host who has been working in Miami media for three decades, said in a phone interview that he too has noticed the trend in calls about Harris on his own morning show. He came to the same conclusion as Amandi that they likely are coordinated. He identified no suspects but speculated that Republicans are behind them.

“It’s not like you get 10 calls every day. It’s not like that. You get a couple of calls here, a couple of calls there,” Rodriguez said. “That’s how the phone banks begin that [have] worked,” he added, pointing to the way political operatives over the years have directed specific messages through callers on the radio programs. “But it’s a trend that you see that is growing by the day; is growing by the week.”

A spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida did not respond to a request for comment.

The most logical explanation here is the old “he who smelt it dealt it” explanation.

Earlier in the year, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tried to block the sale of Miami’s WSUA AM 1260. This explanation is via Newsbusters.

Newsweek’s Adrian Carrasquillo reports:

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) mobilized Wednesday to pressure the Federal Communications Commission to further scrutinize and reject the sale of the well-known Miami radio station Caracol 1260 AM to America CV, which owns the América TeVé network.

The congressmen’s decision comes on the heels of a Newsweek report that detailed how America CV immediately fired the station’s top-rated host, Raul Martinez, a Democrat and former mayor of Hialeah. The swift termination was viewed as a political decision, and led Florida Democrats to sound the alarm of a conservative media takeover on the Spanish-language airwaves.

In brief, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (a body largely composed of folks who couldn’t get elected dogcatcher in Miami-Dade County including, to wit, a literal Castro Brother) is using a labor dispute as cover to attempt to remove ideological opponents from the airwaves.

This effort to suppress Hispanic conservatives is by no means a new initiative, but began in earnest during the 2020 election and has been ongoing since. As the Trump campaign’s anti-communist message took hold, the left began to cry “disinformation”. Latinxtroturf organizations and defeated Democrats (like former congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who asked her former CHC colleagues to intervene in Radio Caracol’s licensing) joined forces to try to pressure Miami stations into silencing conservative voices.

Miami is unique among cities with large Hispanic populations in that there is an abundance of conservative voices on the local airwaves. Univision and Telemundo, despite being headquartered in Miami, don’t get to impose narrative as they do in other cities. The left doesn’t run unabated in the Miami market as they do elsewhere, and Donald Trump’s improved performance over 2016 has sent them over the edge.

 

Last month on NPR, you have Mary Louise Kelly speaking to a Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald reporter, Lautaro Grinspan, about the rise of “disinformation” on Spanish language talk radio in South Florida.

KELLY: This is a story that’s become familiar lately – families torn apart by misinformation. Reporter Lautaro Grinspan spent the better part of this year digging into this phenomenon in Florida for The Huffington Post. He writes that the people he interviewed singled out talk radio as the on-ramp to extremism. And I asked him, why talk radio more than social media or cable news?

LAUTARO GRINSPAN: Well, the reason is that many listeners, especially, again, older listeners, just really, really trust everything that is on those platforms. Many of these stations have been on the air for decades. For older immigrants, it may have been something that early on in their new lives here gave them this sense of connection or belonging as an exile community. So there’s a lot of cultural significance there. And then experts say that what gives some of the Spanish talk radio programs legitimacy is that they frequently include prominent South Florida lawmakers and elected officials who sort of are guests on some of these shows and sometimes take really active roles spreading conspiracies. I’m thinking, for instance, of Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, who back in January was a guest on one of the stations – Radio Mambi.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARIA ELVIRA SALAZAR: (Speaking Spanish).

GRINSPAN: And said that in Pennsylvania last year there were 200,000 more votes than there were registered voters, which is, of course, completely false.

KELLY: You’re saying people are attracted to these stations because they’re familiar, but then they’re also hearing trusted voices, their own elected officials, in some cases, appearing and saying things that are not true.

GRINSPAN: Exactly. And then you have the fact that listeners of these stations may run across similar conspiracies in Spanish on a platform like Facebook, which further reinforces and legitimizes that content. But actually, there’s a better point that I should make, which is that, of course, talk radio in English can spread just as much misinformation as talk radio in Spanish.

KELLY: Absolutely. The problem is not unique to Spanish talk radio. Sure.

GRINSPAN: But the difference is that Spanish language talk radio listeners – again, these are folks who likely only speak Spanish. They don’t have the same access like English speakers do here in the U.S. to other kinds of publications or more mainstream media – you know, like newspapers and the like – to balance out what they may be getting from these radio stations. So there’s less of a counter-narrative that they’re exposed to to the talk radio content.

KELLY: There are other Latino elected officials who are trying to pressure these talk radio stations and say, hey, if you’re going to put something on air, you got to fact-check it. You just can’t spread things that aren’t true. How is that conversation working? What are they saying and are the radio stations responding?

GRINSPAN: Yeah. Over the course of the last year, there has been this very noticeable uptick in sort of pressure being put on the stations. Last year, at the national level, some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus requested an FBI investigation into this information targeting Hispanic communities. I don’t believe anything has come out of that yet. Locally in South Florida, some Latino groups are being increasingly vocal about this and pushing for accountability, really pressuring stations to fact-check information. But if you talk to these groups, they’ll tell you that the rhetoric really hasn’t gotten better at all.

Note the demand for “fact checking.” fact-checkingateway drug the left uses to impose censorship of ideas and narratives upon all media.

To use NPR lingo, all things considered, it seems very, very unlikely that Kamala Harris is the subject of discussion on Hispanic talk radio in South Florida just because she’s incompetent and rode Willy Brown and perhaps his coattails as well, into the upper reaches American politics. So we have to assume that the steady drumbeat of calls, to the extent they exist, is the product of some sort of strategy.

How does the GOP benefit from this campaign? Quite honestly, I don’t even see an 8th-dimensional chess advantage in whacking her on Hispanic talk radio. Just because there is no advantage doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. In fact, given the GOP’s track record, the absence of a coherent end-game might be proof the GOP is behind it. A more likely strategy is that this is engineered by the Democrats. They tried to prevent ownership of the major Hispanic talk radio station from firing a progressive host and failed. They have complained about “disinformation” on Hispanic talk radio. If we view the calls about Harris as a Democrat Astroturf project, it makes more sense. Kamala Harris is the one area where you could safely criticize something Democratic and do no harm. By flagging the calls to Politico and whining about “disinformation,” this serves as a “brush-back” pitch to intimidate the station owners into self-censorship next year when elections roll around.