WASHINGTON -- An Obama administration official credited with improving White House access for the burgeoning Hispanic news media is leaving his post.
Luis Miranda, 36, who grew up in South Florida and staffed then-presidential candidate Al Gores Miami-Dade campaign office, is stepping down to return to the private sector as a communications consultant. The White Houses director of Hispanic media, Miranda is credited within the White House and the Hispanic media with helping to provide access not seen in previous administrations. The outreach came as the White House was courting the growing Hispanic vote, which helped President Barack Obama win re-election last fall.
"The Hispanic media too often has been treated as a distant second string," said Cecilia Munoz, Obamas chief domestic policy adviser. "Luis really has shepherded a new era of access."
That includes the first bilingual White House daily news briefing, as well as invitations to Hispanic TV anchors to the traditional off-the-record luncheons that Obama holds before big speeches, including his State of the Union address.
Miranda said hed viewed his position as an advocate for the administration, but also an advocate internally, finding opportunities to integrate Hispanic media into everything we do.
He also pushed for access to senior administration officials and said he was aided by former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who sat down with the Hispanic press for a roundtable interview shortly after taking office. He helped set the tone for the rest of the administration, showing that if he had the time, others did, Miranda said.
Earlier administrations had included outreach to Hispanic media, but generally with a representative responsible for specialty media, which included African-American and gay and lesbian publications, among others. Miranda said his position was the first to be dedicated to the Hispanic press, answering questions for print reporters and appearing on radio and television, speaking for Obama in Spanish.
The push for more access for the Hispanic press corresponded with an increase in Hispanic media outlets: NBC has launched a Latino website, NBC Latino, and has begun working more closely with Telemundo, the Spanish-language broadcast network it owns; ABC and Univision announced plans last month for a cable network targeting U.S. Hispanics; and Fox launched a Hispanic website, Fox News Latino.
Everybody is starting to look at this market to figure out how they tap into it, Miranda said.
The White House press corps, which covers Obama on a daily basis, has frequently been at odds with the administration over access to the president. But Lori Montenegro, a general assignment reporter with Telemundo, said Miranda had helped elevate the profile of Hispanic journalists at the White House.
In the years Ive been here, hes been the most successful person weve had, said Montenegro, who also covered the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Montenegro said Miranda didnt always give us everything we wanted, but if were going to be fair, theres more access.
Many of the Hispanic Washington-based correspondents arent solely White House reporters, often responsible for covering Congress, as well as entities such as the Organization of American States. So Miranda said hed pushed to make sure Hispanic reporters were recognized in news briefings, figuring theyd return if they could get questions answered.