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On the dangerous behaviour of an Argentine media monopoly

Tony Pagliaro

24.11.05 | I am really glad about the fact that your publication has recently dared to alert its readers about the real impact -and tremendous influence- the “Clarín Group” (an Argentine media monopoly with the most read Argentine newspaper and several TV stations) has had and still has in recent Argentine political events.

In fact, such non democratic influence is still in effect today, since the “Clarín Group” is definitely in cahoots with Mr. Kirchner’s government. What follows will help in demonstrating that it is absolutely true that “marriages” between politicians and “media moguls” are particularly dangerous for democracy.

A little known event highlights, in my view, the real nature of the power the “Clarín Group” effectively has, as a “kingmaker”, in Argentina. During the difficult -and tragicomic- days Argentina went trough at the end of 2001, when it rapidly had to change five Presidents in a matter of a few days, someone approached Mr. Héctor H. Magnetto (whom is correctly described as Clarín’s brains) and suggested him to consider -under the difficult circumstances- the possibility of becoming himself the President of Argentina through been elected, as such, by the Argentine Parliament. Without much hesitation, Mr Magnetto apparently declined the rather unusual political offer by simply stating: “Why should I be willing to accept my power to be curtailed?”.

Mr Magnetto’s journalists (who, like Marcelo Bonelli, are not “independent” ones) are able to both constantly speak at Clarin’s television extended network and regularly write in “Clarín’s” (Argentina’s largest newspaper) columns. They have carefully -and constantly- manipulated Argentina’s public opinion and greatly contributed to generate a permanent favorable “climate” for Mr. Kirchner.

They, in fact, defend whatever the Kirchner administration is doing and deflect any criticism anyone may dare to come up with.

A very recent example has been the coverage of Mr. Kirchner’s dispute with Argentina’s Catholic Bishops. Particularly, when they openly accused the President of Argentina of manipulating recent history in connection with the activities of Argentina’s Marxist guerrilla activities in the 70’s. As it is well known, many of the former Argentine “guerrilleros” incredibly are now high public officers.

Even Mr. Bielsa (the man who is about to be replaced as Kirchner’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to become a Member of the Lower House) in an interview he gave on March 8, 2001 to a Rosario daily (“La Capital”) acknowledged to have participated in several coward bomb attacks against Argentine civilian businessmen. Nothing really happened after such horrible “confession”, since former Argentine terrorists are protected by legal amnesties which were enacted to effectively keep them in a complete state of impunity. In the present fast road towards political absolutism, the “Clarín Group” shamefully is the most important ally the populist former Governor of Santa Cruz has.

The problem is that when “Clarín et al” forced the 2001 peso devaluation to save their companies from bankruptcy the average per capita annual income of all Argentines, which in the late 90’s was of $ 8,500, immediately sank to $ 2,800. They all, together, ended up paying “Clarín’s” rescue. But they still don’t know they did.

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