The Jon Stewart of Spanish-language TV, Jaime Bayly, pretty much endorsed Obama on Wednesday night. Why is this news? Well, if you're a regular viewer of Bayly's talk show on Mega TV in Miami (airing nationally on DirecTV) you're familiar with his nightly tirades and rants against the Castro brothers and Hugo Chavez, and might have assumed that Bayly would support McCain. Bayly, always the conscientious TV personality, acknowledged that he has upset some of his loyal fans and admirers. But I doubt very much that Bayly will lose any viewers because his adoring fans have also grown accustomed to his independent streak.
I can't help but wonder whether Bayly's public support will sway Miami's Hispanics. And because Bayly's show has a strong 25-54 year-old male viewership, Obama would have to thank Bayly if he wins the election due in part to his garnering a significant chunk of Miami's Hispanic vote. Bayly devoted Wednesday night to presenting his case for Obama by using, as he usually does, all kinds of video clips--from Tuesday night's presidential debate, to CNN, to Katie Couric's Palin interviews, to even Saturday Night Live's skits.
But it was clear that Bayly's support stems largely from his "great disappointment" with Sarah Palin. For while Bayly kept lauding McCain throughout Wednesday's show, he kept going back to Palin's "severly limited intelligence--even a polar bear has more intelligence" (ouch!). He said the Katie Couric interviews "demystified Palin for me."
As for McCain, Bayly emphatically said that he would vote for him just to see Chavez and the Castro brothers "go away" but added that such a reason was not sufficiently rational. In citing Tuesday's debate, Bayly thought it was bizarre that McCain referred to Obama as "that one" as if to suggest he was "ese moreno." Of course, Bayly couldn't resist and added that while he would not be upset with a McCain victory, "we could use a little cafe con leche right now." And speaking of "that one," I think we now have the 2008 campaign version of "Where's the beef" (I mean, there are already t-shirts and a website, www.thatone08.com). Even David Letterman couldn't resist.
With so much press and discussion lately about how much (or how little) the presidential candidates are spending on Spanish-language media, Bayly's show was pretty remarkable. There is certainly no connection but clearly someone on the Obama campaign was using their head because the campaign ran a couple of TV spots during Bayly's show. But you also saw TV spots for the very contentious Miami congressional races--now THAT'S high drama!
Interestingly, you didn't see any McCain spots. McCain could very well be following the same strategy he used during the primary when he spent zero dollars on Spanish-language media in Florida while the loser Giuliani spent a fortune. McCain is probably figuring that he has the Cuban and Venezuelan vote in the bag. The big variable is Bayly. He's just become the most visible Spanish-language media personality (and of course, not ignoring the many Latino celebrities like Eva Longoria, Adam Rodriguez, and George Lopez who have endorsed Obama) to come out in support of Obama. With so many Castro-hating Cuban and Chavez-hating Venezuelan Bayly fans, McCain may want to re-evaluate his Florida Hispanic media strategy. Muy pronto.