Univi­sion TV mogul pushed Clin­ton camp to bash Trump

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

The Wik­iLeaks dump of Clin­ton cam­paign chair John Podesta’s emails has re­vealed the broad ex­tent of be­hindthe-scenes col­lab­o­ra­tion with Haim Sa­ban, the Hol­ly­wood bil­lion­aire who con­trols Univi­sion, the coun­try’s largest Span­ish-lan­guage TV net­work.

Mr. Sa­ban is not just one of the top mon­ey­men be­hind Hil­lary Clin­ton’s run, the Univi­sion chair­man of the board is also a trusted ad­viser, mes­sage strate­gist and op­er­a­tive for her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, the emails con­firm.

The fre­quent email ex­changes re­veal that Mr. Sa­ban, who is Is­raeli-Amer­i­can and not His­panic, was at the fore­front of the push in­side Camp Clin­ton to pound Repub­li­can candidate Don­ald Trump for his stance against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and com­ments about Mex­i­can crim­i­nals — a mes­sage echoed in Univi­sion news cov­er­age.

Shortly af­ter Mr. Trump an­nounced his run in June 2015, pledg­ing to build a bor­der wall and ac­cus­ing Mex­ico of ex­port­ing crim­i­nals and rapists, Mr. Sa­ban was on the phone with Mr. Podesta plot­ting strat­egy.

“Haim thinks we are un­der re­act­ing to Trump/His­pan­ics. Thinks we can get some­thing by stand­ing up for Lati­nos or at­tack­ing R’s for not con­demn­ing,” Mr. Podesta said in an email to his cam­paign col­leagues.

“Haim is right — we should be jam­ming this all the time,” re­sponded Jennifer Palmieri, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Clin­ton cam­paign.

At Univi­sion, news an­chor Jorge Ramos be­came a chief an­tag­o­nist of Mr. Trump, chal­leng­ing his il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies as un-Amer­i­can at press con­fer­ences and from the an­chor desk.

Beyond blur­ring the lines be­tween news and ad­vo­cacy, Mr. Sa­ban’s prom­i­nent role in­side the Clin­ton cam­paign demon­strated how wealthy donors can buy a seat at the ta­ble.

In­deed, Mr. Sa­ban in May 2015 hosted a din­ner in the pri­vate wine gallery of the posh kosher steak­house Re­serve Cut in New York City for a who’s who of the Clin­ton uni­verse.

The guest list in­cluded Mr. Podesta, Ms. Palmieri, cam­paign vice chair Huma Abe­din, cam­paign man­ager Robby Mook, cam­paign fi­nance di­rec­tor Den­nis Cheng, fundraiser Laura Har­ti­gan, deputy na­tional political di­rec­tor Brynne Craig and rapid re­sponse di­rec­tor Adri­enne El­rod.

Van­der­bilt Univer­sity political science pro­fes­sor Marc J. Hether­ing­ton said it wasn’t sur­pris­ing to find in­ti­mate deal­ings be­tween politi­cians and big donors such as Mr. Sa­ban, who has poured more than $6 mil­lion into Mrs. Clin­ton’s cam­paign, su­per PACs and al­lied party com­mit­tees.

That’s the way democ­racy in Amer­ica works, he said, adding that it was still trou­bling.

“This is some­thing that the Amer­i­can public is con­cerned about — overly cozy re­la­tion­ships be­tween peo­ple who have in­ter­ests in dif­fer­ent poli­cies and pol­i­cy­mak­ers,” said Mr. Hether­ing­ton, an ex­pert on me­dia cov­er­age of political cam­paigns and voter be­hav­ior. “The con­cern would be whether there was some quid pro quo.”

The emails did not in­di­cate pres­sure form Mr. Sa­ban to change Mrs. Clin­ton’s po­si­tions. He ap­pears to be­lieve that he shared her agenda.

Other pow­er­ful news me­dia ex­ec­u­tives have had close re­la­tion­ships with the political cam­paign.

Roger Ailes, prior to step­ping down in July as chair­man of Fox News, was crit­i­cized by ri­val news out­lets for ad­vis­ing Mr. Trump.

Mr. Sa­ban’s of­fice di­rected in­quiries about his ef­forts for the Clin­ton cam­paign to a public re­la­tions firm in New York that did not re­turn a phone call.

Daniel Coronell, pres­i­dent of Univi­sion News, vouched for the edi­to­rial in­de­pen­dence of the news op­er­a­tion within Univi­sion Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc.

“We are de­voted to in-depth, qual­ity jour­nal­ism and main­tain our in­de­pen­dence from the larger cor­po­ra­tion. Mr. Sa­ban has al­ways re­spected that in­de­pen­dence and has never tried to get in­volved or made any re­quests to our news di­vi­sion,” he said in a state­ment to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Mr. Sa­ban also ad­vised the Clin­ton cam­paign about at­tack­ing her chief pri­mary ri­val, Sen. Bernard San­ders of Ver­mont, for ben­e­fit­ing from su­per PAC sup­port while de­nounc­ing big money in pol­i­tics.

In a Fe­bru­ary email with the sub­ject line “Bernie’s lies,” Mr. Sa­ban sug­gests hit­ting Mr. San­ders in de­bate by say­ing, “You are against Su­per packs…right?,I don’t like them ei­ther…ok pls come clean with the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and ex­plain etc.”

He said it would de­liver a “Sim­ple ar­row [to] the heart and the brain. … and up his butt.”

Al­fonso Aguilar, pres­i­dent of Latino Part­ner­ship for Con­ser­va­tive Prin­ci­ples, said he wor­ries about Mr. Sa­ban’s close ties to Mrs. Clin­ton and how that might af­fect Univi­sion news cov­er­age should she win the White House.

“It raises con­cerns, es­pe­cially when you see some of Jorge Ramos’ com­ments about Mr. Trump,” said Mr. Aguilar, who was a sur­ro­gate for Mr. Trump but with­drew his sup­port in Septem­ber.

He stressed that there was no “smok­ing gun” that showed Mr. Sa­ban was in­struct­ing his news depart­ment to slant cov­er­age.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Leaked emails re­veal that Haim Sa­ban, Univi­sion’s chair­man of the board, was at the fore­front of the push in­side Camp Clin­ton to pound Repub­li­can candidate Don­ald Trump for his stance against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

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