THE SCANDAL SHEET OF MADRID POLITICS: Versión Original, Truth or Censorship?

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Blog by Jack Wright

 Angered critics were out for Carmena’s blood. MadridVO typifies a fascist initiative, they say

 

In this capital city where Guidepost resides and thrives there seems to be no end to controversies you sometimes can’t make heads or tails of since the new far-left Ahora Madrid-Podemos mayor, Manuela Carmena, was installed in the office with the help of the center-left Partido Socialista de Madrid (PSOE’S Madrid branch). And the media are having a field day! TV and radio talk shows are specially animated, with a good deal of antagonism among the partisan guests sparking acrimonious discussions  and pushing up audience ratings to new heights in the process.

Mayor Manuela Carmena / diagonalperiodico.net / CC BY-SA / Cropped

Mayor Manuela Carmena / diagonalperiodico.net / CC BY-SA / Cropped

The Ahora Madrid-Podemos folk and their sympathizers lament that the mayor wasn’t even allowed the usual 100-day “honeymoon” with the media and the opposition. The attacks from these quarters, sometimes unduly vociferous, came all too soon, in fact even before Carmena was sworn in.

The latest of the controversies has erupted only a few days ago with the creation by the city government of the website “Madrid Versión Original (Madrid Original Version),” a.k.a. MadrdidVO .

What’s that? MadridVO itself  says “it is one of the channels through which the local government brings information about its activities straight to the people.” The site “allows the people and the media to have access to the original information [emanating from the City Hall] which gave rise to a piece of news  that, in the course of its transmission [to and publication on the media], has been modified and contains inaccurate statements or statements that need clarifying.”

MadridVO claims that what it is offering is  “verifiable documented information.”

Great! But here’s the catch: because of the purported veracity of the “official” data on the site, “they are not open to comments nor for discussion.” In other words, the information on the site is gospel truth and there’s no two ways about it.

That’s waving a bright red cape at the bull! In no time flat angered critics were out for Carmena’s blood. MadridVO typifies a fascist initiative, they say, and has no place in a democratic city like Madrid, that it’s an instrument to intimidate the media, and works directly against the freedom of the press.

The Madrileño socialist Antonio Miguel Carmona / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Cropped

Socialist Antonio Miguel Carmona: he made her mayor / Ahora Madrid / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Cropped

Even the leader of the socialists in the capital, Antonio Miguel Carmona, wants MadridVO scrapped “as soon as possible” because there’s no need for a site whose purpose is to correct or qualify an information published elsewhere, even granting that part or all of that information could be inaccurate if not downright spurious. “Democracy,” says Carmona, “is the freedom to commit mistakes.”

Esperanza Aguirre, mayoral candidate of the conservative Partido Popular who went to the extent of offering her party’s vote of investiture to Carmona just to prevent Carmena from becoming mayor, has proposed an “urgent motion” to take down MadridVO though she admits that for it to push through the city assembly PP would need the support of either the PSM-PSOE or the  right-leaning “centrist” Ciudadanos.

Mayoral contender Esperanza Aguirre / www.ppmadrid.es / CC BY 2.0 /Cropped

Mayoral contender Esperanza Aguirre / www.ppmadrid.es / CC BY 2.0 /Cropped

But is the Ahora Madrid-Podemos government’s website really the only one of its kind in democratic Europe? And is its sheer existence abhorrent to democracy? MadridVO’s answer to both is  “No”. The European Commission has been operating Euromyths (see here for example)  since 1992 , “a website whose end is to clarify and correct [false] information about the EU in the press.”

Versión Original pooh poohs the claim of the critics that the allegedly anti-democratic website is an unnecessary disbursement at a great cost to the Madrileños: “The web uses a free software (WordPress) that has been installed . . . by the personnel of a public information company (IAM). The cost of the time employed [by that personnel] is estimated at €200.00.”

WordPress logo_500x500Moreover, “the web is being worked by the journalists of the communications team in the mayor’s office. This is no extra work for the said team given that its usual job includes following up information, preparing press releases, and the clarification of news sources.”

Soon the Madrid city government will get mired in a new controversy, supplanting Versión Original in the political scandal sheets. But not so fast. Before this blog could be published some critics want the mayor to resign. That’s one big leap from just daring her to scratch VO out.

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Two recent news corrected on MadridVO:

  • “The City Hall has not announced new taxes” (Click here.)
  • “The Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports has tackled the situation obtaining in the Royal Tapestry Factory” (Click here.)

Most recent Euromyth correction

  • July 21, 2015: “The Daily Telegraph published an article – later picked up by other media – on 18 July suggesting that the EU’s European External Action Service (EEAS) was ‘ordering a £2m dinner service fit for an emperor’. In fact it is launching a tender to supply all the crockery, cutlery and glasses, etc that all of its 140 ‘delegations’ – equivalent to embassies – across the world will need for the next 4 years and doing so in the most economical way, with a flexible contract.”
    Here’s the complete “correction”.

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Main source of MadridVO info: http://madridvo.madrid.es/  and http://madridvo.madrid.es/index.php/madridvo-que-es/    CC BY-SA 4.0 Es
(Note: The English translation of the Spanish information taken from the Versión Original website is the blogger’s. In no way is it an official translation.)

Featured image: www.freedesignfile.com / CC By