Is Dubbing Joe Biden In Spanish Election Interference? Yes, It Is.

April 12th, 2024 12:48 AM

It took me a minute to get there, but I have arrived at the realization that the act of dubbing President Joe Biden in Spanish is tantamount to an act of election interference, given the degree to which it alters the president’s outward presentation to voters and what such dubbing conceals to voters who rely exclusively on Spanish-language newscasts.

Look at Biden’s Constitutionally-challenged rant on guns, both in the original English and as dubbed into Spanish, as aired on Univision (Spanish) and Unimás (English) on Tuesday, April 9th, 2024:

JOE BIDEN: The idea we don't have background checks for anybody purchasing a weapon, the idea that we're going to be in a position where he says that he famously told the NRA that don't worry, no one's going to touch your guns if I… From the very beginning, I used to teach the Second Amendment in law school, from the very beginning, there were limitations. You couldn't own a cannon. You couldn’t… You could own a rifle or a gun.  

ENRIQUE ACEVEDO: Weapons of war.

JOE BIDEN: They weren’t weapons of war.

The contrast is as stark as night and day. 

Those who watched the TelevisaUnivision interview of Joe Biden on Unimás (as I did, primarily) got English with subtitles. We heard the president in his own voice, speech pattern and mannerisms. We got to hear him trail off several times, and made assessments of his lucidity and cognition. Based on this feed we were able to speculate as to the efficacy of the (alleged) White House medical cocktail team (hard to assess because the interview was split into shorter interviews across multiple venues, as opposed to Trump’s lengthy sit-down at Mar-a-Lago).

Those who watched the Spanish-dubbed interview on Univision were deprived of that perspective because of the stellar job done by the interpreter. When dubbed into Spanish, Biden sounds 40 years younger and without cognitive decline. The interpreter’s rich baritone, when transposed onto Biden, leaves viewers with the impression of a president far more vigorous than he actually is. 

The truth is that this has always been the custom when covering presidents in Spanish-language media. Each network has their on-call contract interpreter that handles presidential addresses. These guys are experienced, highly skilled, and have worked through several administrations. But none of those presidents had the structural challenges that Joe Biden possesses. One can accurately convey the words of what Joe Biden is saying, but not the trail-offs and blank stares. Cognitive decline becomes impossible to convey to the viewing audience. The fairest way to present Biden to a Spanish-dominant audience, then, is simply to show him as is, in English with Spanish subtitles as was shown on Univision’s sister network Unimás. Let the viewers see for themselves. 

Having had a couple of days to process the interview, one notices that there have been no interventional pieces filed by the Acela Media, and no broad protestations put forth by the Professional Latinx. There are no Washington Post or New York Times items describing a conflicted newsroom. It appears that the highly scripted, choreographed and overproduced campaign documentary has satisfied those who were outraged by the Trump interview, and that Anita Dunn effectively bullied TelevisaUnivision into proving Team Biden with their very own “softball” interview.

As I said in my preview, the most dangerous scenario for Biden would have been to get the same type of interview that Trump got. But Biden got the exact opposite. And Univision's Spanish-language viewers, who studies show are part of the most misinformed cohort among voters, got more of the same.