I'm from Mexico City and lived in the U.S. for a total of more than 24 years. Now I'm back in Mexico. I realized I was seeing my country through the eyes of a native stranger. This is an attempt to process the differences, to explain Mexico to the U.S. and the U.S. to Mexico. With digressions along the way.

viernes, diciembre 17, 2004

News Shows

Carlos Loret de Mola
Every morning we watch two news shows that are a refreshing change from U.S. news. These are "Primero Noticias", with Carlos Loret de Mola and "El Cristal con que se mira" with Victor Trujillo. I think what distinguishes these shows from how the news used to be here and how it is in the U.S. is the candidness with which the hosts give their opinions and present their critical takes on events and politics in the city. There is no hidden agenda. American newscasters try to give the impression that they are presenting simple fact. Occasionally they will insert an opinion, but they hardly ever do more than insinuate their politics. The main news show when I was last living here was given by Jacobo Zabludovsky, and things were very different then...a lot more like American news shows now, though of course more informative, since news shows here have never been dumbed down to the extent they have in the U.S. Zabludovsky was a lot more conservative, and he stated everything with absolute certainty in a typical newscaster voice. He came off as manipulative since he managed to express his opinions with subtle changes in intonation. This was also at a time when critique of the government in Mexico was almost entirely censured or self-censured.

Victor Trujillo
Now, Loret de Mola and Victor Trujillo present the news and very openly and blatantly make their opinions known. Their critiques are intelligent and funny...none of the fake chuckles and banter like they have between newscasters on U.S. shows.
One of my favorite lines from Loret de Mola, for example: Santiago Creel, the "Secretario de Gobernación" from the PAN (the ultra-conservative Catholic party), has been dressing up in a variety of outfits to seem like "one of the guys" (very much like Bush does). This is all taken as an indication that he is hoping to run for president in 2006. Loret de Mola remarked one day on his dressing like a "charro" (think Mexican cowboy) and then as a fireman. The next day he casually dropped the line, "Santiago Creel, sin disfrazarse de nada, apareció..." (without dressing up, appeared...). He simply stuck it in front of what was otherwise a straight report. Pure brilliance. Both Loret de Mola and Trujillo interview various government officials on the show, and they ask very tough questions. It's a pleasure to see the guests squirm and evade answering.
Victor Trujillo I don't find quite as funny, but his insights are right on the mark most of the time. He always ends his show with the following line: "Nada es verdad y nada es mentira, todo depende del cristal con que se mira." (Nothing is truth and nothing is a lie, it all depends on the lens with which you look at it.) Can you imagine a U.S. news show having that as their motto?!
But openly embracing their subjectivity isn't the only thing that I find strikingly different in these Mexican news shows. Trujillo had another show before his wife died that was even more surreal than most things in Mexico. He appeared as "Brozo el Payaso Tenebroso"--a boorish clown--on the show "El Mañanero," handing out incisive criticism surrounded by large-breasted women. It was crass, it was ugly, but it was better journalism than anything available on TV in the U.S.

Loret de Mola comes off as a square in comparison, but a few weeks ago when he interviewed López Obrador, the head of government of the D.F., they had a comedian who imitates him come on in the middle of the interview to speak to his real life counterpart. I suppose it's the equivalent of a comedy news show like the Daily News. There seems to be some controversy in the U.S. around suggestions that most Americans get their news from comedy shows such as that one, but I'd venture to say that the reason for this is that they present the criticism and humor that is so sorely missing in "real" news shows. Here in Mexico we get it nicely packaged together. Do I think this interferes with the objectivity of the news? I think that's a stupid question. Since there is of course no such thing as objectivity, no such thing as "fair and balanced," wouldn't you rather get opinion stated plainly and outright?


Blogger Maura Belman said...

I realy like you take importance to mexican news and people like Carlos Loret de Mola.

6:54 p. m.


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