Monday
September 1, 2014

Lanata, Tinelli back

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The last laugh?

By Marcelo J. García
For The Herald

It should have come as no surprise to see President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner throwing a variety show this week on the cadena nacional mandatory radio and television broadcast that her government uses and abuses, often to the exasperation of opponents and (some) followers alike. April opens the political year on broadcast TV and the government, which has at times mirrored the tactics of its sworn media enemies, also wants to be in good shape.

This Sunday the government faces the return to prime time television of one of its main political nightmares. Journalist Jorge Lanata is opening the third season of his Periodismo para Todos show. Lanata promises to explain his viewers “everything” they need to know about Argentina’s political reality.

But Lanata will not be alone this season. Later in April Argentina’s most popular television host will also make his comeback after a sabbatical. Marcelo Tinelli’s ShowMatch variety program promises to go political this year, for a number of reasons. The main one: Tinelli spent the summer trying to convince the government into reforming the Fútbol para Todos soccer broadcasts the administration so dearly uses to pass political messages over to the public. He failed.

Lanata and Tinelli showing up on the air on the same month, at a time when the administration is on the wrong side of the public, struggling to walk away from the verge of economic collapse after the devaluation of the peso in January, is bad news for the President and her team. Tinelli invited Lanata to perform in the former’s opening gala. By the way, the two shows run on Canal 13, the broadcast television station owned by the government’s number on media enemy: Grupo Clarín.

Good humour does not abound in the Kirchnerite movement. This was even admitted by the President in the hilarious cadena nacional broadcast this week from the Tecnópolis theme park in the city suburbs. The President was opening a cultural event and decided to feature a few musicians, a hip-hop singer, a poet and even a stand-up comedian, who cracked a joke about the government’s youth faction, La Cámpora. It was a silly joke. It referred to an urban legend that La Cámpora members fancied Blackberries – an indication of upward social mobility (now maybe replaced by iPhones). The camporistas on site did not like the joke.

They might have to get used to them, soon. Both Lanata, a journalist; and Tinelli, a showman, are resorting to political satire to get their messages across. There will be imitations of government officials and political leaders. The pair also target different audiences: Lanata’s viewers are mostly informed urban middle class citizens prone to dislike the government; Tinelli’s are suburban working class sectors where the Kirchner decade collected most of its stalwart following.

Simple as it sounds, the media and politics plot has thickened for Tinelli over the last few months. Last year he sold his Ideas del Sur TV production company to Cristóbal López, a casino mogul who visibly expanded his fortune during the Kirchner era and is now building a media empire of his own. López also purchased a 30 percent stake Grupo Clarín had on Tinelli’s firm. Tinelli kept the management of his former company. After years of wrangling, capital connected to the Kirchner universe will pay for a show on Grupo Clarín’s prime time. Things do change.

And yet, if there was any doubt that Tinelli was planning to take some sort of revenge over the time he things he wasted during long summer weeks negotiating terms with the government over the soccer TV issue, his Twitter feed seems eager to clear them away. One morning this week, Tinelli tweeted right when Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich was giving his daily morning press briefing, “Capitanich talks in a very complicated way. I don’t understand a thing.” Capitanich was the person who brought him to the Casa Rosada early this year to discuss the soccer issue in the first place. And about the controversial cadena… show, he wrote: “I am watching the President now. There is no humour. She seems very serious.”

Lanata, meanwhile, is combining his return to television with the publication of a new book called “10K. The Stolen Decade,” a play-on-words with the Década Ganada (“Won Decade”) slogan of the Kirchners fans. The book predictably tackles the issue of corruption, a Lanata favourite, and recaps the many scandals engulfing the three Kirchner terms, which Lanata and his team covered extensively on print, radio and television. The political world is always on the alert mode at any new revelations Lanata might produce as he starts his new season. Last year, he delivered a series titled “The Route of the K-Money” with reported on alleged money laundering originating in business linked to the presidential family. Court investigations on these topics made little progress. His Periodismo para Todos program received this week a silver medal award at the New York Festivals for this investigation. It remains to be seen who will have the last laugh.

@mjotagarcia

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