The nation’s Spanish-language media appear to have made some (D)istinctions as to which ethics stories they choose to cover. Allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were covered extensively, but an actual ethics scandal surrounding Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew nary a mention.
Recall that a 2020 MRC Latino study found that allegations of sexual improprieties against then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh drew a staggering 38 times more coverage than did similar allegations against Joe Biden on Spanish-language media. We find ourselves similarly situated three years later.
Every major Spanish-language network, to wit: Univision, Telemundo, CNN En Español and Estrella TV, found time to cover allegations of ethical improprieties against Justice Thomas. How much time? 946 seconds, which comes out to a total of 15 minutes and 45 seconds over the course of three days.
Contrast this with the coverage given to the ethics investigation into AOC’s attendance to the Met Gala: a scant 40 seconds on Telemundo, tethered to a similar report on Congressman George Santos. That’s nearly 1/24th of the coverage given to accusations against Justice Thomas.
Telemundo's March 3rd report was the totality of coverage of AOC's ethics scandal on Spanish-language media:
JULIO VAQUEIRO: Also in Washington: The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Republican representative George Santos. The panel will demand whether the lawmake- will examine whether the lawmaker for New York violated campaign finance laws for 2022, as well as allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct made by a former volunteer. Santos's office stated that the congressman is fully cooperating with the investigation.
And Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez also faces an investigation due to her participation in the 2021 Met Gala. There, she wore the famous dress with the inscription "Tax the Rich". The Congressional Ethics Committee voted 5-0 to investigate whether she accepted improper gifts.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez received the dress, a purse, shoes, jewelry, hair, makeup, transportation. She said that she did not violate any ethical rules, but that payments were delayed and she found it to be unacceptable. The Committee maintains that the payments, in the amount of several thousand dollars, were made once they began to investigate her.
If only AOC were a conservative Supreme Court justice, then perhaps the other networks might deem her ethics scandal to be newsworthy.
In the meantime and without yet a solid alternative in place, Spanish-language network news media continue to bet on their viewers’ inability to spot the (D)ifference in how they exercise editorial discretion.
[Methodology note: This study looked at news programming on Univision, Telemundo and Estrella TV, as well as "Directo USA" on CNN En Español on 4/6-8 for coverage of Justice Clarence Thomas, and on 3/2-4 for coverage of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.]