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Thursday, August 09, 2012 10:08 AM

News Anchors Fired in Spain For Asking Frank Questions of Political Leaders; Move Guaranteed to Backfire

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One way to control news reporting in these trying times is to get rid of news anchors the state does not like, replaced by news anchors willing to be media puppets of the government. Spain has done precisely that, forcing out popular news anchors for asking pointed questions.

The Financial Times reports Madrid accused of media interference.

Spain’s government is facing mounting criticism for political interference in the country’s main state broadcaster after a string of high-profile departures of journalists considered critical of the ruling Popular party in recent months.

Several of the broadcaster’s most prominent news journalists have left on acrimonious terms, following a move by the government of Mariano Rajoy earlier this year reversing a law making key appointments at the state Radio y Televisión Española network subject to approval by a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Ana Pastor, presenter and interviewer of the RTVE’s main breakfast news show, left the broadcaster over the weekend, prompting other journalists and commentators to criticise what they claimed was an attempt to purge voices critical of the Rajoy government as it enacts unpopular austerity measures.

RTVE said it had offered Ms Pastor – who had built a reputation for asking figures from across the political spectrum frank questions in difficult interviews – a different role before she left, but she denied this on her personal Twitter account.

“I know they are getting rid of me for having done journalism. And they did not offer me anything concrete,” she said.

Several other news anchors have left RTVE in recent months.

In June, the broadcaster’s head of news, Fran Llorente, was replaced by a journalist from the PP-controlled Madrid region’s own television channel. Mr Llorente was first appointed to his role in April 2004, shortly after Socialist leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero came to power. In 2002, under the PP government of Jose Maria Aznar, RTVE had been found guilty by Spain’s high court of unfairly reporting a general strike that year.
 Move Guaranteed to Backfire

Attempts to control media reporting are guaranteed to backfire.

Given enough political pressure and firings, Spain may be able to control what the state-run media reports, but there is no way of forcing anyone to actually listen to it or watch it.

Moreover, biased reporting of the news by friendly state-sponsored news anchors is bound to make people suspicious of virtually everything the government says.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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