A few more things about the farmers' strike, or as Página/12 calls it, the agricultural businessmen's lockout. The strike, lockout, or whatever you call it, is now on hold while the leaders of the movement wait for their call to negotiate with the government.
Covers of Página/12 and La Nación for March 26 (the day after Cristina's inflammatory first speech, the cacerolazos in upper-class Buenos Aires, and the disbanding of Plaza de Mayo demonstrators by Luis D'Elía's thugs).
Sometimes Página's op-eds go over the top and I don't like that; I don't like how certain people in their staff see 1970s' politics, or class struggle, or whatever their pet subject, in every bit of current news. To balance that, I read La Nación, which is right-wing and anti-government, but also has a few really good writers, alongside some whose opinions make my stomach turn.
Well, my discovery these days was that Página/12 is obviously, visibly, on the pay of the national government. Página's coverage of the strike/lockout was so deliberately skewed, so unctuously pro-government, so grossly anti-strike, so monolithically defensive of Cristina, that I can't be convinced that ideology alone is responsible. I felt angry. The rest of the media coverage was sloppy, partial, sensationalist, sentimental..., as usual. Even La Nación didn't dig so much in the trash. Página's was a pro-government campaign, almost as subtle as Luis D'Elía screaming his hate for the rich.
The fact is, I'm a "salad bar"-type political pragmatist. I tend to distrust and discount the opinions of people who are in the extremes, but outside of those, I applaud anyone, from the left or the right, who comes up with a good idea, or something that looks like a good idea. I had a deep distrust of Néstor Kirchner when he ran for president. I changed my mind as he did some really cool things, like renewing the Supreme Court, facing up to the utility companies that wanted to triple their fees, maneuvering around the defaulted bond-holders who would see the country broke to get paid, and repealing the laws that prevented the torturers and murderers of the last dictatorship from being tried. Then he started channeling Juan Domingo Perón or something (that is, Perón minus the articulateness and good diction in speeches) and the worst elements in his government acquired power, and then he passed it all on to Cristina, who has been doing exactly the opposite of what should be done since Day 1.
All this time (getting back to the subject) I heard Néstor and Cristina criticizing the media for this and that. Néstor K once said the media should inform objectively instead of doing opposition politics (that is, kill the editorial section, kill political analysis — just repeat whatever the government officially communicates to the press), and more than once he pointed at specific journalists and specific papers. Cristina is even worse. For all her supposed communicational talents, she sounded remarkably stupid, to me at least, when she tried to make a sarcastic comment — "It seems as if the media were forbidden from printing good news." The Kirchners never understood journalism, maybe because in Santa Cruz the media were few and were controlled by their friends and cronies.
Up to the export tax crisis, Página/12 was (so it seemed to me) rather neutral, not in the sense that it didn't editorialize, but in the sense that it wasn't systematically putting out an apology of the government. La Nación, on the other hand (so it seemed to me) was always trying to poke holes in everything the government did. Granted, as of late Página would have real trouble finding something good to say about the government, and the ideological strain was showing; and La Nación was enjoying a free ride on the scandal rollercoaster, so it came out as more objective (negative spin wasn't necessary) and didn't look so clearly anti-government.
When the countryside rose, Página/12 suddenly shifted gears (or so it seemed to me...) and launched an all-out offensive against the critics of the Kirchner administration. Even the witty Rudy & Paz comics became bitter, unfunny attacks on the "oligarchy". You could count a half-dozen headlines each day, every one of them a long editorial piece, pointing out the many sins, past and present, of the participants in the protest — and not one objective criticism of the idiotic measure taken by the Ministry of Economy which had caused all the trouble in the first place.
It got me really mad. I've gone mad with La Nación over the coverage of certain episodes by specific writers, here and there, and I'm accustomed to see through its supposed objectivity into its rotten conservative heart. But I didn't expect this from Página: a whole paper, which used to cover a variety of topics seriously when appropriate, or with well-placed irony and sarcasm in other cases, turned overnight into a government propaganda machine. Not for a left-wing government, but for an administration that's fast turning us back to old-style fascism. I can barely read it anymore. In fact, since the campo crisis started, I almost don't read about it in the papers — I pick and choose only the shorter informative articles, and quickly skip over the editorials.
It's all bare ideology out there now. Dialogue, compromise and solutions seem to have been banished.