Liberal advocacy groups are building a $22 million “Latino Anti-Disinformation Lab” led by Media Matters for America president Angelo Carusone, Voto Latino president María Teresa Kumar, and former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez.
Media Matters, liberals’ leading media watchdog, and Voto Latino, a liberal voter registration group focused on Hispanic voters, announced the new effort to combat what they perceive as misinformation and disinformation about democracy and public health aimed at Hispanic communities.
“The need for this initiative is clear. In the months leading up to the 2020 general election, voters were subject to higher levels of mis- and disinformation than ever before,” said the groups in an announcement. “Spanish and English language voter fraud misinformation, fear-mongering tactics, and disinformation about COVID-19 spread throughout the media and on mainstream social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, YouTube, and other online communities. This included a significant increase in false information targeting communities of color, disproportionately impacting Spanish-speaking audiences over the age of 40.”
The groups say the new lab will expand Media Matters’ monitoring of Spanish-language media and online platforms to develop research that Voto Latino will use to identify and influence “at-risk Latinx voters.”
“Whether it’s public health, political campaigns, or policy debates—the way the media approaches the issue will greatly influence the outcome,” said Mr. Carusone. “The right-wing sphere has spent years building a misinformation machine to target the Latinx community, which has resulted in a rising tide of disinformation.”
The liberal push to win over Hispanic voters comes after former President Trump made new in-roads with Hispanic communities that previous GOP candidates did not reach. In Florida, a state Mr. Trump won despite losing to President Biden, approximately 55% of the Cuban-American vote went to Mr. Trump alongside 30% of Puerto Rican voters and 48% of “other Latinos,” according to NBC News exit polling.
Hispanic voters that tilted toward Mr. Trump also helped Republicans make gains in the U.S. House of Representatives, including by flipping seats in South Florida.
As a former Democratic Party boss, Mr. Perez recognized the threat his candidates face because of the political right’s new traction with Hispanic voters.
“Misinformation targeting the Latino community is a very real and growing threat,” said Mr. Perez in a statement. “We’ve got to address this threat head-on with a substantial, focused, and concerted effort. … This is the kind of lasting investment in communications infrastructure within the Latino community that is necessary to respond to the threat of misinformation as well as harness durable political and civic power.”