Univision's Coming Bloodbath

July 27th, 2021 4:36 PM

Change has come to Univision’s beleaguered news division, thus ending the calamitous Lee-Coronel reign of terror. But turmoil lies ahead.

As part of a major shakeup announced on July 19th, Univision announced the removal of President of News Daniel Coronell, longtime wingman to Isaac Lee, as well as his replacement by longtime Televisa executive Leopoldo Gómez. As head of Univision News, Coronell continued to both implement the activist model instituted by Isaac Lee and indulge Jorge Ramos’ excesses. Our analysis of Lee’s 2018 removal just as easily applies to Coronell:

On Lee’s watch, Univision’s news operation would increasingly turn to an activism-based model of reporting where immigration reigned supreme, and took it upon itself to enforce the notion that a belief in immigration policy was somehow a central tenet of the Hispanic ethnopolitical identity. I submit Jorge Ramos’ contemptuous opinion column cheering Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio’s defeat in the 2016 presidential primary as an example of the sort of openly partisan behavior that Lee indulged at Univision, which culminated in a massive loss of credibility after the 2016 presidential election.

Coronell will not be missed in Doral, and is now free to pursue his ongoing jihad against former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and his followers. To be crystal clear, this was a firing. Per Univision’s press release:

Leopoldo Gomez, former head of News at Televisa, has been appointed President, News following Coronell’s departure. Gomez is a seasoned news executive, with proven business results and more than 20 years of experience leading a large and diversified news group in Mexico, the world’s most populous Spanish-language market. Gomez is a graduate of George Washington University and Georgetown University with masters and doctorate degrees in Political Science and in Government. Gomez has been the anchor and director of Mexico’s highest rated weekly Public Affairs TV program, Tercer Grado, and writes a weekly column in one of Mexico’s leading national newspapers. Gomez has been awarded Mexico’s Premio Nacional de Periodismo on two occasions, and is the recipient of the Premio Ondas Iberoamericano de Radio y Television and the Premio Rey de España. As previously announced, Televisa Noticias in Mexico will not be part of the combined Televisa-Univision, and Gomez will no longer be a part of Televisa’s news operations in Mexico. Univision Noticias and Televisa Noticias are and will continue to be separate operations. Gomez’s appointment is effective immediately, and he will relocate to the United States in the weeks ahead.

Sources familiar with the transition say that Gómez arrived with a landing team of about 20, composed of both management and on-air talent. The sources further addED that Gómez is intent on bringing Univision in line with Televisa’s production style, so an overhaul of talent and programming is to be expected. Do take notice of Univision’s assurances of being completely siloed off from Televisa.

Such statements are belied by the fact that Televisa’s head of news is literally taking over Univision’s news operation, which is exactly what MRC Founder and President Brent Bozell warned would happen if the FCC granted Univision’s rule change requests. “We told you so” aside, it is unclear whether this arrangement survives multiagency review pursuant to the FCC’s approval of the foreign-ownership rule change.

And that’s not all. Because it appears that Gómez will have oversight of Univision’s entire news operation, except for one individual. Once again, from Univision's press release (emphasis our own):

Jorge Ramos, Univision’s 10 time Emmy Award-winning journalist and news anchor, will assume additional responsibilities as Special Editorial Advisor to the CEO reporting to Univision CEO, Wade Davis. Ramos has been at the forefront of journalistic integrity and news excellence for more than four decades and represents the best of what Univision Noticias stands for.

This begs the question: if Univision’s CEO has a President of News and an Executive Vice President of News, then why on Earth does he need a direct-report Special Editorial Advisor? It appears that the move is little more than a giant ego-stroke so as to protect Ramos from having to work under a Televisa guy. Per The New York Times:

Jorge Gilberto Ramos Avalos grew up in Mexico City and arrived in the United States in 1983, at age 24, after his career as a journalist for Mexico’s Televisa network came to an abrupt end. Ramos had reported a story about Mexican psychology that doubled as a critique of Mexico’s authoritarian government, which at the time had been controlled exclusively by the center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party for more than half a century. (Its rule would last another 17 years, a streak that once provoked the Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa to call Mexico the “perfect dictatorship.”) Ramos’s footage included interviews he did with the well-known dissident intellectuals Carlos Monsiváis and Elena Poniatowska. When Televisa tried bowdlerizing the footage with a pro-government spin, he destroyed the tape and resigned, effectively blacklisting himself. Less than a year later, he sold his Volkswagen Beetle and moved to Los Angeles in hopes of restarting his career in the United States.

It is unclear whether Ramos will remain behind Univision’s anchor desk as part of the arrangement, but this is unprecedented. Time will tell whether this is a gesture aimed at creating a soft landing for Ramos at, say, CNN; or whether he has actual power, in which case, the incoming head of news is constrained before fully putting his stamp on the division. Either way, this arrangement is not sustainable beyond the short term. 

These same sources indicated that Gómez was concerned over the network’s far-left biases and association with the Democratic Party (for example, Univision’s collaboration with the Clinton campaign in 2016 and undisclosed use of Joe Biden’s pollster in 2020). This is an additional sign of the internal strife to come, given Univision’s entrenched editorial direction.

However, expectations of a major editorial shift should be tempered. In opinion columns published in Mexican outlet Milenio, Gómez appeared to support both election “reforms” (such as H.R. 1) that would prevent the future rise of someone “like Trump,” a more generous immigration reform in the name of abolishing inequality, and gun control -- all of which are consistent with the bulk of the network’s existing policy advocacy agenda. 

It remains to be seen how the man from Televisa (a network considered to be "center-right" but in line with corporate U.S. media) addresses any remaining concerns, including such issues as abortion, government/Big Tech censorship, and the rest of the liberal policy buffet platter which Univision has gleefully embraced to this day, while his star anchor and public face of the network is in the CEO's ear.

In sum, it appears that Univision has fallen under that famous Chinese curse: “may you live in interesting times.” We’ll be watching, and we’ll continue to hold the network accountable.