September 3, 2014
This week the media’s handling of Vice-President Amado Boudou’s involvement in the Ciccone case has had to co-exist for the first time with an ongoing judicial procedure and deepening political implications in consequence — this has added some new dimensions to the relationship between the press and politics with the good, the bad and the ugly alike. Boudou’s bid to bypass the print media as a news filter by televising his testimony failed (as it was bound to fail) because it was full of legal flaws (not only counter to the traditions of court secrecy but mixing apples and oranges in institutional terms by offering a Senate camera crew to cover his defence of charges when he was minister of the executive branch). Yet the bottom line is also that an opportunity for transparency went missing and confusion continues to reign.
Meanwhile the same Clarín Group produced examples of the good, the bad and the ugly in the same week. In the former category falls Boudou’s unprecedented appearance on TN news channel (previously forbidden ground for government officials due to its Clarín ownership) — something which should have happened a long time ago because instead of the two sides talking past each other in isolation, Boudou was asked all possible questions in the case (something which the pro-government show 6,7,8 signally failed to do) and gave answers. But both bad and ugly were the calls from Clarín’s big star not only to hound certain judges who fail to treat Boudou as convicted ahead of any trial but also their children.
But talking of the Clarín Group, perhaps the most ideologically loaded chapter in the press-politics relationship last week was the appearance of Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli (in all probability the ruling party’s presidential candidate next year) along with other politicians at a forum organized by Clarín and also featuring the presence of its CEO Héctor Magnetto (a demonized figure in many government circles — and certainly 6,7,8). The uproar over Scioli’s appearance underlines just how twisted Argentina’s polarized politics have become. In any other country a newspaper bringing together politicians of all stripes to hear their opinions would be regarded as perfectly normal, justifying Scioli’s “so what?” attitude (socialist leader Hermes Binner was far more evasive and apologetic over his appearance). But at the same time Clarín and Scioli also have their hidden agenda — Boudou might be looking more guilty all the time but nobody is completely innocent.