Monday, 4 January 2016



I tell you, in my opinion, the cornerstone of democracy is free press - that's the cornerstone. Milos Forman

In EUROPE, EU Commissioner GUNTHER OETTINGER recently threatened to put POLAND on notice for infringing on common EUROPEAN values by passing legislation giving the government control of the state media.

The move would start a series of steps that, if the law remains in place, could eventually see WARSAW lose its voting rights at the EUROPEAN COUNCIL, the organization that groups the leaders of all 28 EU nations.

Unlike in EUROPE, in ARGENTINA no appropriate control mechanism or commissioner is in place to threaten the ARGENTINE President Mauricio MACRI   over infringing common democracy values. And even if there were such mechanisms in place, ARGENTINES president Mauricio MACRI has already initiated the controversial move by means of decree…………………

To recap:

President MAURICIO MACRI instigated a controversial move against the countries media watchdog by taking control of the AFSCA by means of decree, the new government would leave the CLARÍN GROUP — the country’s largest media conglomerate — with dozens of excess radio and TV licenses over and above the current limit of 24 licenses nationwide.



 “The first typical reaction of an individual to the news is likely to be a desire to repeat it to someone. This makes a conversation, arouses further comment, and perhaps starts a discussion… The clash of opinions […] terminates in some sort of consensus or collective opinion- what we call public opinion. It is upon the interpretation of present events, i.e., news,  that public opinion rests” [1]

This quote is very clear when stating that public opinion rests mainly on news media. But who is watching over the media? Does any reader check if the information in the newspaper is biased or partial? What would happen if it was?
These are all questions one has to keep asking oneself every day when reading the different headlines of CLARÍN.

CLARÍN MEDIA GROUP is the largest media conglomerate in ARGENTINA and it has been against the previous KIRCHNER government ever since the passing of the Audiovisual Communication Services Law (better known as Media Law) in 2013. The Media Law was quite controversial and turned a loving relationship between the KIRCHNER government and CLARÍN MEDIA GROUP into one of hatred.

The Law basically tried to regulate and control major media outlets (like, and especially, CLARÍN) by promoting decentralization of media with the goal to boost competition, democratization and universal use of new information technologies and communication.


CLARÍN MEDIA GROUP defines itself as the major and largest argentine media company and the leader in market cable television, internet access, printing, producing and distributing content. Its newspaper (DIARIO CLARIN) has the highest circulation in LATIN AMERICA and the second in SPANISH language worldwide. The Company is also a benchmark for ARGENTINE advertisers. It has the largest market share in most segments of the advertising market. All of these things make CLARIN MEDIA GROUP the dominant company in the media marketplace.

Having said this, it is clear to everyone that the Law was mainly conceived and passed by the Congress in order to decentralize CLARIN and force it to sell part of its assets like TV channels, radio stations, etc. Among other things, the Law states that a media group can have up to 10 national radio stations or up to 10 TV channels. CLARIN obviously was exceeding this amount of licenses permitted so it had to sell some of them. The deadline passed, and after a lot of discussion, the government granted the media group with the opportunity to do the selling by themselves, choosing what to sell or not, instead of the Estate expropriating the licenses. CLARIN then sold several TV channels and radio stations. But as they say, everything comes with a price. Even though the group doesn’t have the very same concentration of media it used to have, it still has the biggest audience (either readers of the newspaper, TV watchers or/and radio listeners). The media group knows that, regardless of the content or headlines, they’re heard, watched and taken seriously. Taking advantage of this, CLARIN constantly tried to deteriorate CFK and the whole government’s image. It’s not that they tell lies, but rather they choose very selectively the facts, twist some of them and/or put a major emphasis on them to make the former government look bad.


But apart from the speaker, it takes an audience to receive the message and pass it on, and that audience is argentine civil society. Argentines believe and like to trust CLARÍN because about half of ARGENTINES population are / were against the former KIRCHNER- government for various reasons.

As the psychology theory of cognitive dissonance explains, when inconsistency (dissonance) produced by conflicting ideas is experienced in our minds, we tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and we are motivated to try to reduce this dissonance either by looking for approval or information that confirms what we want to believe, and/or avoid situations and information that are likely to increase our discomfort.

For example, if someone smokes and knows that smoking is unhealthy and causes lung cancer, that person may feel psychologically uncomfortable because of the tension produced by the dissonance (difference) between what he knows and how he actually behaves.


Applying that to reading the newspaper or watching the news, we can say we actually look for information that will coincide with our way of thinking and how we act. That will bring us comfort because in some sort of way, a “trustworthy” source is telling us that CFK is a “bad president”, and that her “government couldn’t be worse”; it’s not only in our minds, it’s out there, in the headlines.

CLARIN knew that some people were/are in disgust with the former government and its president; added to this, the audience that consume their media usually trust them “blindly”, without even being aware of it. So the problem is that people don’t always realize that what they’re reading may be biased or partial, and when they also stop reading other newspapers or watching other news channel apart from those that share their point of view.


CLARIN audience is mostly comprised by ordinary citizens who work every day, don’t have much time to get informed, they usually read the newspaper on the subway or check the news in Facebook or Twitter. They’re not well known for being scholars, academics or people well formed in politics, economics, etc. Most probably they consume CLARIN media as their main, and sometimes only, source of news.


This model states that “rational citizens gather information from the news media and then deliberate with others about matters of common concern”[2]. This assumption is arguable. In this case, CLARIN audience is far from this ideal. This model also suggests that the role of media in the process of opinion formation is to merely provide “the informational infrastructure that supports individual decision making”.
New Long Journalism (Barnhurst:2003)[3] has taken over journalism practices and news reporting, and now the role of media is more related to interpreting facts and providing news analysis rather than providing the facts.
Citizens don’t make decisions completely independently from media after reading or watching the news. There’s always a limitation in the opinion formation process that is owed to journalists expressing their opinions as expert sources and interpreting instead or simply reporting. Depending on where citizens get their information from there may be variations with other sources.


The ideal thing to do if we all were rational information-seeking citizens would be to turn to different media sources to try to have a more objective and impartial view on things. But this is rarely the case among the CLARIN audience     and that’s what makes their editorial line so dangerous for the opinion formation processes for there  are times when news are so biased that they jeopardize citizen participation in democracy.

This is mainly because journalists interpreting things and draw conclusions in ways that not always coincide with what’s really happening. When CLARIN readers don’t seek information from different sources and limit themselves to mostly one and the same source, and this source is most likely partial, this deviates citizens’ thinking and their world vision, thus influencing their decisions and behaviors based on “facts” that may not be quite accurate.


Audiences like these will always “see” things through the eyes of the journalists they trust, and this power journalists have, provides them unlimited access to manipulation and propaganda.

So the questions one has to ask oneself is who really is in charge of public opinion? Is it Habermaas’ circle of highly educated people who have rational discussions and reach consensus? Are journalists playing this role now that they’re conceived as expert sources? Does public opinion formation depend only on journalists and their visions? Is that democratic?

Even when there are plenty of trustworthy sources of information where citizens can turn to, it is usually the very same group of people that do this and sadly this group is a minority in ARGENTINA (and in most parts of the world). For all citizens and consumers of the media this should be of concern and thus try to expand their horizons and pursue the ideal of the rational information-seeking citizen.

[1]Park, Robert. 1940. “News as a Form of Knowledge: A Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge.” American Journal of Sociology 45(5): 669–686. (Extracted from Jacobs, Ronald N. and Townsley, Eleanor. 2011. The Space of Opinion: Media Intellectuals and the Public Sphere. Oxford Scholarship Online. Page 10)
[2] Jacobs, Ronald N. and Townsley, Eleanor. 2011. The Space of Opinion: Media Intellectuals and the Public Sphere. Oxford Scholarship Online. Page 8.
[3] Barnhurst, Kevin G.  2003. The Makers of Meaning: National Public Radio and the New Long Journalism. Political Communciation.

In view of these facts it comes of no surprise that ARGENTINE'S largest media conglomerates have won the election for MACRI, but the more sinister question is:  


For the first time ever, ARGENTINA'S right-wing won the presidential elections, which looks like they had done things right.
However it happen because the media were the driving force behind the right wing cause. And through the dissemination of manipulated and biased information, they were fighting to make sure the business-friendly, U.S.-oriented neoliberal and vulture-fund-sided/funded MAURICIO MACRI won the elections.

“[T]he strategy of the opposition-allied media has been based on exaggerating the results of polls and surveys in favor of MACRI, as the right-wing attempts to win in the polling booths for the first time in ARGENTINA,” wrote the SPANISH newspaper NUEVA TRIBUNA.

Up until the Oct. 25 vote, SCIOLI had a wide lead that had positioned him as a potential president-elect without having to face MACRI or any other candidate in the runoff. But likely thanks to the manipulation of statistics and surveys, MACRI was able to come from behind to almost tie in the first round of the presidential elections that ended with a very narrow victory by SCIOLI.


CLARIN — the largest media conglomerate in Argentina and an influential member of LATIN AMERICAN Newspaper Association, which includes the 14 largest right-wing newspapers of SOUTH AMERICA — manipulated the results of the Nov. 15 - 2015  SCIOLI-MACRI debate, saying the right-wing candidate had won, which was far from the truth, the NUEVA TRIBUNA added.

So despite SCIOLI'S extensive lead, MACRI closed in and surpassed the ruling party candidate, according to the figures pushed by CLARIN and other right-wing media.


Does this mean that the famous phrase by the Nazi Minister of Propaganda JOSEPH GOEBBEL, “The bigger the lie, the more people will believe,” is coming through in ARGENTINA? It is a proven fact that in past and present, media has a very powerful influence over voters.

“Citizens learn about politics and government primarily from television and newspapers; these media outlets can influence voters not only through the slant of a particular report, but also merely by choosing which stories to cover,” wrote renowned media and Psy – Ops institute MIT and center of psychological warfare of the Hoever Institute.

They said that their particular study showed that media did not impact voters' political knowledge, but did increase their support for a targeted candidate.          “This suggests that the informational effect of news exposure was stronger than the effect of the slant,” the group said.

So, based on this information, we could deduce that coverage from CLARIN and other ARGENTINE media has successfully been able to manipulate information and statistics in order to highly influence voters in favor of MACRI. It happened in MEXICO, where an alliance between the powerful media, controlled by Televisa and others, relentlessly pushed forward manipulated surveys that gave current President Enrique PEÑA NIETO the lead, and eventually the victory.            NUEVA TRIBUNA noted that during the Nov. 15 debate between SCIOLI and MACRI, one of the moderators ignored ethics by handing the right-wing candidate manipulated UNICEF figures on poverty and economic growth, with the intention of cornering SCIOLI.

“The act exposed once again the enormous resources and the power of the media being manipulated in order to misguide voters against SCIOLI’, NUEVA TRIBUNA noted.


But the right-wing media has been resorting to unethical manipulation of news since long before the presidential campaign began. For years it has attacked the previous government of President Cristina FERNANDEZ, in attempts to destabilize her administration by distorting the Front for Victory's social gains and successes.

Voters should analyze the opposition-controlled media that has attempted to convince the public they are in favor of democracy, when in reality all they been trying to do is destabilize a democratically elected government with psy –ops style propaganda, by inflating alleged political and financial scandals.

“The strategy of disinformation systematically used by the powerful ARGENTINE daily (CLARIN) is highlighted in the most basic manuals of psychological dominance and media manipulation that any person can consult at a library,” NUEVA TRIBUNA wrote. “You do not need to be a sociology expert to realize that CLARIN publishes many stories as if they were true, but that are not based on any concrete evidence, nor solid proof,” the newspaper added.

CLARIN has been around since the 1940s and has traditionally sided with coup leaders and right-wing politicians, clearly opposing social democratic doctrines.

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