Monday, September 13, 2010

La Jornada and AMLO: An admiration that distorts its journalistic mission

La Jornada is a very important Mexican newspaper that reports on stories of social interest often neglected by the other large newspapers. It's advocacy for democracy, ever since its 1984 inception, is admirable.

Yet La Jornada's excessive admiration for AMLO has at times reached such heights that it seriously distorts political reality. Take for instance La Jornada's coverage of this weekend's meeting of the PRD's National Council, which is undergoing - as it has for two decades - a brutal fight between the movement-advocates behind AMLO and the party-building social democrats behind Jesús Ortega. According to reporter Alma Muñoz, who has covered the PRD for a long time and should know - I am convinced she does - better:
"In a press conference [Ortega] unveiled two resolutory points, supposedly approved during the sessions of the national council, adjourned indefinitely  due to a lack of consensus among the party factions: There will be no elections December 5, and the policy of alliances will be maintained, after [Ortega's] group impeded that these subjects were part of the order of the day."
Where does one start... First, why "supposedly"? These resolutions were duly voted over by the entire national council, and the final vote tally was 146-97 and 142-93 against, respectively, bringing up the alliances for debate, and against having new elections in December. Why "supposedly"? Was the reporter not present? Did this in any way not signify a valid vote? What is it that she knows that we do not? The simple truth is: Those two votes were a test of strength between the andresmanuelistas and the social democrats, and the latter came up on top. Second, why does Muñoz write the council was adjourned "due to a lack of consensus"? The council was adjourned after the andresmanuelistas lost the vote, which they as always refuse to accept, and then proceeded to "take" the council tribune in retaliation. Why doesn't La Jornada report on this? The article itself brings in several quotations from opponents of Ortega, such as Dolores Padierna, yet none of his backers... indeed, another article by Víctor Ballinas in the same newspaper interviews three Senators from the PRD, all of whom strongly criticizes Ortega. Yet these people are a minority in the party - why not interview any of Ortega's many backers? Because it simply doesn't fit with the narrative, as John Stewart often mocks U.S. news organizations for? Functionally, La Jornada is unfortunately appearing a little too much like a Fox News of the left.

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