posted at 3:01 pm on October 11, 2016 by John Sexton
In the summer of 2015 Univision chairman Haim Saban told influential members of the Clinton campaign they needed to push back harder on Trump’s comments about immigration. The campaign responded and put together a media plan which included a Clinton interview on Univision. However, Saban appeared to be upset with a Hot Air post that suggested his network had a cozy relationship with Democrats in general and Hillary in particular. From the Washington Post:
“Haim thinks we are under reacting to Trump/Hispanics,” campaign chairman John Podesta wrote to top campaign aides after speaking with Saban, according to hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks. “Thinks we can get something by standing up for Latinos or attacking R’s for not condemning.”
The campaign’s vice chair, Huma Abedin, wrote that Saban had called her, as well, concluding, “If Haim is raising it, it means he’s hearing it from his Univision colleagues.”
If you’re wondering why Univision’s chairman has an open door with Hillary’s top aides the answer is simple. Saban, in addition to chairing the top Hispanic network, has personally donated $10 million to a pro-Hillary SuperPAC and about $25 million to the Clinton Foundation. Not surprisingly then, the response from Team Clinton was to swing into action and put together a media plan designed to hit Trump harder:
“Haim is right — we should be jamming this all the time,” responded communications director Jennifer Palmieri, looping in her deputies. “Can we think about what else we should do? Issue a broader challenge?”
The staff then developed plans about how to push more aggressively on the issue of Trump’s remarks — including by possibly having Clinton do interviews on Univision television and radio, the emails show.
And a month later Hillary did do an interview on Univision with Maria Elena Salinas in which Clinton’s pro immigration plan was contrasted with that of Republicans.
Around the same time the Hillary interview was airing, Saban seemed to be irked by the suggestion that he was responsible for his network’s Hillary boosterism. He sent Huma Abedin a Hot Air post written last May Noah Rothman. From Politico:
In later emails from August of 2015, Saban seemed concerned that Univision was appearing to be too pro-Clinton. He forwarded to Abedin an article from Hot Air published in May of 2015, headlined “The press is starting to notice Univision’s pro-Hillary boosterism”, which linked to a piece by POLITICO about the deep Univision/Clinton relationship. “I have nothing to do with it,” Saban wrote. “i NEVER tell our news dep. What to cover.,,,unlike some of my peers.”
Abedin replied “welcome to our world!”
If you go back and read the piece by Noah, you’ll see it offers plenty of evidence Univision has been behaving like “a Democratic PAC with a studio.” Meanwhile, Saban has donated millions to Hillary, hosted fundraisers for Hillary and has said it is his dream to see her elected president. So Saban can claim there is a firewall between his personal opinions and the behavior of his network, but there doesn’t actually seem to be much of a difference in the output.
Even if Saban isn’t telling Univision’s news department what stories to run, he is telling the Clinton campaign how to attack Republicans and providing her with a platform to amplify what is essentially his own advice to an important Clinton constituency. The cozy connection between message and messenger makes giving direct orders to Univision unnecessary.
The revelation of Saban’s behind the scenes intervention in the Clinton campaign’s strategy on immigration comes from hacked emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. It does not appear that the Clinton campaign has so far denied any of the leaked emails are accurate.