President Obama shocks mainstream media, picks Univision first

On January 26, when President Barack Obama sat down with Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas, the message wasn’t just about what he actually said. It was also about Obama’s decision to speak to the Spanish-language network before ABC (or any of the mainstream networks, for that matter) after his State of the Union speech.

Sure it raised some eyebrows, but it proved strategic genius. To give Univision his first interview after the State of the Union Speech—which sounded more like a campaign speech—before granting access to ABC or NBC sends an enormous statement to Latinos.

With that fifteen minute interview, President Barack Obama reached a massive number of voting citizens, people with children who vote, and young bilingual voters.

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Its importance lies in the fact that my parents—both voting citizens by way of naturalization—are glued to Univision on a nightly basis. Though, they’ll occasionally take a channel detour to watch shows on Animal Planet or National Geographic, their viewing habits haven’t changed in decades.

There are millions of Hispanics in the U.S. just like them who have that same loyalty. And sprinkled in Univision’s lineup was the airing of an interview of Barack Obama by Maria Elena Salinas in which he discusses topics of importance to the Latino community: unemployment and his plan to create jobs, immigration, foreclosures.

On a personal note, the bulk of these issues are ones that resonate with my dad, who fell victim to shoddy salesmanship of a mortgage he should not have been sold and to job loss that lasted almost two years. My mom and dad were barely hanging on to their home. When my dad was not looking for work, he took every opportunity to join protesters to fight big banks and foreclosures in D.C. One to shy away from cameras, he’d even talk to reporters. My dad has never been an activist, but the situation was that dire and infuriating.

I know my dad is not alone. Unemployment rate among Latinos is at 11%, above the national average. Foreclosures have hit Hispanics so hard. Troves of Hispanics are calling for some leveling of class structure, you know that 1% thing.

With offenses like Mitt Romney talking about self-deportation and Newt Gingrich calling Spanish the language of the ghetto, President Obama’s timing was perfect.  

Do you agree that President Obama’s interview impacted how Hispanics view him? Will his interview with Maria Elena Salinas impact the Latino vote?

Image via The White House/flickr (right), Getty Images (left)