I sat down and watched TelevisaUnivision’s interview with former President Donald J. Trump, expecting fiery exchanges and contentiousness and I am in complete shock for there were no such things. Instead, viewers watched a calm, rational dialogue between Trump and Televisa N+ anchor Enrique Acevedo. And I can’t quite figure out why.
Watch this exchange on weaponized government, for example:
ENRIQUE ACEVEDO: You say that they’ve weaponized the Justice Department, they weaponized the FBI. Would you do the same if you are reelected:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, he’s unleashed something that everybody- we’ve all known about this for a hundred years. We’ve watched other countries do it. And in some cases, effective and in other cases the country’s been overthrown or it’s been totally ineffective. But we’ve watched this for a long time and it’s not unique. But it’s unique for the United States. Yeah. If they already do this, and they’ve already done it, but if they want to follow through on this, yeah, it could certainly happen in reverse. What they’ve done is they’ve released the genie out of the box. You understand that. They’ve done something that nobody thought would happen. They’ve taken a president who is very popular- I got 75 million votes, much more than that, I believe.
This was the tone throughout the entire interview. History, too extensive to get into here, suggests that this should not have been the case. From the moment Trump descended the gilded escalator at Trump Tower, Univision (at the time not a wholly owned subsidiary of Mexico’s Televisa but owned by a private equity group headed by Hillary Clinton megadonor Haim Saban) set out to cast him as a monster, and depict him as such to their viewing audience. And this was the editorial course that Univision charted right up until they were bought out by Televisa in 2022.
I was always told, by sources within Univision, that the network wanted to pursue a different editorial tack so as to avoid being perceived as a foreign-owned Democrat talking point regurgitator. But the on-screen product never quite caught up to those lofty promises. Until tonight’s shift.
I was struck by the choice of anchor. Enrique Acevedo is no stranger to the MRC, and we’d covered him extensively both as Univision anchor and as 60 Minutes correspondent. He recently returned to Mexico, post-merger, and took over as anchor of Televisa’s prime time evening newscast. There were plenty of people at Univision HQ in Doral (OK, a handful) who could’ve done the interview but the choice of Acevedo intrigued me. I began to suspect that the whole op was run from Mexico City. And sure enough, per Semafor:
The unusual structure of the interview has prompted some internal grumbling within Univision. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, the interview was largely organized by Televisa, the giant Mexican media company that owns Univision. While Acevedo, a former Univision and CBS broadcaster, is one of Mexico’s most widely-respected television journalists, the decision to give an anchor from Televisa an hour in primetime is unusual, network sources said, and some Univision staff told Semafor they would have preferred if the interviewer was a member of Univision staff — who tend to be more engaged in American politics.
The sitdown with Trump was a priority for Televisia(sic). Top Univision and Televisa executives including Univision CEO Wade Davis and Televisa co-CEOs Alfonso de Angoitia, and Bernardo Gomez were in attendance at the taping at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.
There you have it. The interview happened because Televisa wanted it to happen, for reasons that are not yet clear to me. I have some friends who are furious over this interview while others are over the moon. I’m not ready to accept what I just saw at face value, and I am left with more questions than answers. But my gut tells me this is a one-time op and that Univision will continue to favor both the leftwing policy pupu platter and the Democrats that want to enact it. I remain suspicious.
One thing to watch for going forward: will Trump (or Republicans in general) begin to garner different coverage on Univision, or is this a one-off for both Trump and Univision? And, if so, why?
Another thing: exactly how much “internal grumbling” is there within Univision’s news division, which has now been very publicly and visibly defenestrated? How much clean-up is newly retuned President of News Daniel Coronell (part of the reason Univision lost so much credibility in the first place) going to have to do?
One last thing: Jorge Ramos is the Special Editorial Advisor to the CEO of Univision, Wade Davis, who was present at Mar-a-Lago. What was his editorial advice to Davis? I cannot imagine that he signed off on this interview, which begs the question: was Ramos (who once wrote an op-ed calling Trump’s NYC indictment “a beautiful thing)” overridden?
One last thing, for real this time: this wasn’t Acevedo’s first time at a Trump property.