Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Unethical Maria Elvira Salazar (Part 1)

Last week was a very interesting week for Maria Elvira Salazar. Weekdays at 8pm, Salazar hosts a local political talk show called Polos Opuestos (Polar Opposites) on local TV station MegaTV. Its quite a hit down here in South Florida where before Spanish primetime was usually dominated by telenovelas (soap operas). But, by 2003, Salazar had shattered the telenovela supremacy and paved the way for Spanish TV political talk. Now, shows like Polos Opuestos and A Mano Limpia ("Straight Talk"/"Face to Face") are beginning to dominate Spanish primetime. A Mano Limpia is aired on channel 51 America TeVe, and has been beating the Spanish network Telemundo since late last year. Local Spanish TV station GenTV has recently jumped on this trend and introduced Ultima Palabra, a political talk show co-hosted by Ninoska Perez-Castellon from Radio Mambi.

All of these programs give considerable coverage to issues about Cuba, giving far more coverage to support for US policy towards Cuba.

Maria Elvira Salazar is already known to be an adamant supporter of US policy towards Cuba, and normally describes Fidel Castro as a tyrant. She usually offers an entire show to reveal "La Realidad Cubana" (Cuban Reality) as she puts it. But this past Friday, Maria Elvira Salazar may have breached the most basic of journalistic ethics.

Beginining on Wednesday, Salazar hosted a very heated debate on her show between Joe Garcia, Chairman of Miami-Dade Democrats, and Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba. [Watch video here.] The show was finally living up to its name (which it often doesn't do). Both participants talked over each other and disputed even the most minute of details. Growing frustrations and a vocal tussle over US funds, which both recieve for their respective organizations, ended with Calzon walking out of the show within the final 10 minutes of the program. He eventually came back to give a final statement, but it was clear that he would never debate Garcia again.

Thurday's show gave the audience another impassioned debate between Juan Amador, famous father who led the Vamos a Cuba ban (and newest member of Unidad Cubana) and Pedro Rodriguez Medina, director of Combate News who opposes US policy towards Cuba. The stark differences of opinion were displayed, with both talking over each other, but with more restraint that the Calzon-Garcia debate. The following day on Radio Mambi, several regular listeners called in to congratulate Amador for his comments.

Looking back, it seems that Friday's show was a response to the debates, to even out Garcia and Medina. The topic this day was all about a documentary called Cuba 111, and Salazar had invited two men to analyze the film: Mario Fernandez Mora and Camilo Loret de Mola (so much for diversity of views on Cuba). I enjoy documentaries from Cuba and always pay close attention to them. Salazar enjoys showing documentaries on her program to present "La Realidad Cubana," but on closer inspection, Salazar has a strange way of presenting these fine films, which happen to look dated.

[Part 2]


Agustin Farinas said...

Mr Mambi,
what exactly do you find wrong with Maria Elvira calling Castro a tyrant? What is she suppose to call him? A democratic elected president? What would you call him? A tyrant in my book is someone who abolishes the basic freedoms of a country, the rule of law, arrest and jails opponents, shoots them without a fair trial, it rules a country that has no freedom of the press, holds no free elections, etc, etc. You know the rules. So what do you want her to call him? Can you think of a good name?

Mambi_Watch said...

Mr. Farinas,

The thing about Salazar that she does very poorly is portray herself as a neutral journalist. In order to do so, one should employ neutral descriptions of persons or events in order to avoid any confrontation, suspicion, or bias. This is a fair stance for any investigation or interview.

Salazar in some cases does present excellent work, but I find that many times she also fails. I am about to point out a clear example with Part 2.

But, in the case of Fidel Castro, I think its fair to avoid "tyrant" as a description because many Cubans do not see him as one.

I think more neutral descriptions like "leader" or "ruler" are suffice to make a point.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Pancho, are you serious? We shouldn't call Castro a tyrant because "many" Cubans don't see him as one? Some people don't see Hitler as a "tyrant." In fact, he was the democratically elected leader of Germany, which means that we actually know the exact number of his electoral supporters. We will never know, of course, how many Cubans support Castro because he has never in 48 years submitted his rule to a popular vote, and it is likely that he will die as he lived — a tyrant, by any and all definitions.

Do you refer to Pinochet as "president" or "leader?" He actually won elections, and what is more important, he also lost elections and abided by the will of his people.

Mambi_Watch said...

I would say the reaction to "tyrant" by some groups can have similar emotional dimensions to saying "mafia" to another group.

If we want a serious discussion, without such distractions, then I think we can settle for neutral words like "leader", "ruler", or even regime.

But, if you want to criticize or condemn something, then concentrate on facts and evidence, not personal descriptors.

Anonymous said...

The only word better than tyrant to describe Fidel Castro is murderer.

SecuestrosSiniestros said...

Maria Elvira Salazar is an excellent journalist with an outstanding track record in the industry of television and radio. To condemn her on this Blog for semantics of a word is in no way or shape indicative of her professionalism.

Many people who "envy" her will of course criticize her without foundation. Like so, as a democracy, and possessing Freedom of The Press rules, we all have the right to differences of opinions on any given topic. Democracy VS Tyrannical.

Lets be honest, Maria Elvira is the Barbara Walters of our community, lets continue our support for her amazing journalistic undertakings before we rush into any misleading judgements.
Charles Del Campo
CNN iReporter

Rey said...

Mira macho te voy a escribir en español porque no veo la razon para hablar de Cuba en ningun otro idioma, si quieres quitas el comentario porque ya se aprecia la pintoresca idea que tienes de democracia. Quisiera hacerte dos preguntas: Tu nunca has vivido en Cuba verdad? No, si fidel Castro no es un tirano, es la caperucita roja. 2- Te parece muy etico lo que ha hecho el tirano durante mas de 50 años? Y te hare incluso una tercera pregunta: Cual es tu problema eres acaso comunista? seria bueno que te definieras. Un saludo.

Mambi_Watch said...

Wow. Gotta respond here. First to Mr. Del Campo: Maria Elvira without a doubt has an amazing resume and I would never attempt to minimize her entire professional history.

But, I am focusing on Cuba and her reports related to Cuba. In my opinion, after watching her for many years on TV in Miami she is a very biased reporter who has made it clear on many occasions to describe the Cuban government as a great enemy of the US. This is a persistent theme in what I describe as the propaganda industry in Spanish language media in Miami. I hope to continue to present more evidence of this, and try to post it on this blog.

To Rey: En el periodismo hay ciertos principales eticos que todos professionales deben de seguir. Esos estan bien claros como en el Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics. Esos son las normas qual yo juzgo a todos periodistas. Y en este caso a Maria Elvira.