For the first time ever, Argentina's right-wing may win the presidential elections, which would sound as if they were doing things right.
However it may happen because they control the media. And through the dissemination of manipulated and biased information, they are fighting to see the business-friendly, U.S.-oriented and vulture-fund-sided Mauricio Macri win this Sunday’s runoff against ruling Front for Victory party candidate Daniel Scioli.
“[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 a couple days before 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.
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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 Scioli-Macri debate, saying the right-wing candidate had won, which is far from the truth, the Nueva Tribuna added.
So despite Scioli's extensive lead, in recent weeks Macri has closed in and has now even surpassed the ruling party candidate, according to the figures pushed by Clarin and other right-wing media. It is now impossible to say who will win the elections.
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's runoff election?According to a study by the Poverty Action Lab, a research center at MIT, 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 to stories to cover,” wrote researchers from the study.
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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 government of President Cristina Fernandez, in attempts to destabilize her administration by distorting the Front for Victory's social gains and successes.
According to Nueva Tribuna, the winner of this Sunday's runoff will depend on “whether the voter is capable to shake off the media manipulation when he is alone in the polling booth.”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 lies and other types of news manipulation, such as through exaggerated 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 who are not interested in social programs or narrowing the gap between the few very rich and the massive poor majorities.