WASHINGTON — On Tuesday it was En vivo desde la Casa Blanca —"Live from the White House" — as four local anchors from America's biggest Spanish-language TV networks roamed America's most famous address.
They interviewed President Barack Obama in the Blue Room, called it "surreal" to see the portrait of George Washington in the East Room, and got briefings on immigration and health care from staff members in the West Wing.
"They want to make sure they reach this part of the population in their own language," Maria Rozman, news director for the Telemundo station in Denver, KDEN, told her viewers in Spanish while speaking on the South Lawn.
The White House is reaching beyond the Beltway's traditional media and tapping into a huge and politically powerful audience: the millions of viewers who watch Univision and Telemundo. They easily surpass the audiences of cable news programs and, in some demographics, the broadcast networks themselves. In February, Univision beat out NBC as the third-most-watched network among adults 18- to 49-years-old.
Rozman of Telemundo was flanked on the sweltering White House lawn by three colleagues — from stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas — who had been invited by White House officials pushing for the immigration overhaul. Obama did his part: In an interview on Tuesday with one of the anchors, Leon Krauze of KMEX Univision 34 in Los Angeles, he said he would not compromise on his position that the legislation include a path to citizenship for immigrants in this country illegally.
"It makes no sense to me for us to say that we're going to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix our immigration system and leave the status of millions unresolved," the president said. "If we're going to do this right," he added, "it does not make sense for us not to resolve that situation."
Tuesday's events followed six lengthy sit-down interviews by Obama on Telemundo and Univision in January, March and May.