I understand why Tom Tancredo quickly declined to participate in a Univision-sponsored Spanish-language presidential debate. Just as readily, I understand why Bill Richardson jumped at the opportunity. All that makes sense.
Hillary Clinton's rejection of Univision's invitation is a little harder to follow. At least, that is, from a purely Hispanic media perspective.
Univision is the Spanish-language media behemoth. No one else comes close. It is the dominant Spanish-language broadcast network with more than two-thirds of all viewers. It owns the largest Spanish-language cable network, which has more viewers than all the other Spanish-language cable networks combined. On many nights, Univision is the fourth-highest rated network among all networks (English-language and Spanish-language) during primetime. Univision owns the dominant Spanish-language radio network with incredibly popular stations throughout the U.S. In LA, for instance Univision's radio stations are ranked first and second, according to Arbitron, among all stations regardless of language. Univision also operates one of the two largest Spanish-language Web sites. Univision's reach and influence among Latinos is comparable to the combined reach and influence among all Americans of Clear Channel, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. That's not an exaggeration. It might even be an understatement.
There is academic research that strongly suggests a relationship between Spanish-language news coverage and increased voter turnout (this is much more the case for local news and local candidates than for network news and presidential elections, according to the study) Univision is engaged in an extensive voter-registration drive. This campaign has sparked the concern of conservatives given the close ties between Univision investor Haim Saban and Hillary Clinton.
If nothing else, Hillary Clinton's decision to bail on this debate splashes cold water on the theory that Haim Saban will use the Spanish-language network to the advantage of the Senator from New York. (Admittedly, Hillary's decision doesn't end the polite difference of opinion and respectful exchange on this matter between myself and American Thinker. There is still a long way to go before the elections and much can change before then.)
I can understand why a candidate like Tancredo would reject Univision's invitation on philosophical grounds. But, again from a purely Hispanic media perspective, I don't understand how any Democratic or most Republican candidates would pass up a chance to participate in a Univision-sponsored debate. It just seems like an easy opportunity to reach an awful lot of voters, many of whom will be entering the poll booth for the first time.
Update: See how Presidential Candidates Flunk Spanish