I won’t be the first to complain about the state of American journalism, especially reporting on foreign affairs. But I’m getting tired of the lazy job some–not all–writers are doing. Compare, for instance, today’s updates on the Mexican presidential campaign from the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. The Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia emphasizes the emotional–the pent up rage of AMLO supporters “who were stoked into a sign-waving, fist-pumping frenzy by new fraud allegations that failed populist candidate” AMLO made at a rally in Mexico City’s central square. The Post article also claims that AMLO is asking for a total recount of every vote cast, which is not the case.
In contrast, the LA Times leads with the PRD’s strategy for contesting the electoral count. No they won’t ask for a recount of every vote, only those in precincts with irregularities, although this adds up to about half of all the votes cast. Details, details. The point is that there is a rational strategy here, not just the pent up rage of the dispossessed. Oh yes, and Calderon is not the “president elect” yet. Not until the Federal Electoral Tribunal says so. This is clearly a complication most in the American press can’t abide. In contrast, the Miami Herald’s Mexican Edition (via El Universal) has the headline “Victory not final until judges verify results.”
On the question of the cleanliness of the elections, the LA Times notes, “The election was monitored by hundreds of international observers, many of whom lauded the apparent orderliness of Sunday’s vote. Some, however, did note irregularities during the official count of polling station reports that began Wednesday.”
Calderon will fight the recount. Why? Because during the previous recount, in which about 2,500 precincts were recounted vote-by-vote (this according to the Post), his lead declined by half. Open another 2,500? Maybe it wouldn’t matter, but why risk it.
Meanwhile, another interesting line on the election is the exporting of the American Red State-Blue State saw to Mexico. In the NYTimes, James McKinley notes the clear North-South split in the election with the modernized North voting for Calderon and the backwards, poor South voting for AMLO. If you’ve seen a map of how the Mexican states voted, the regional difference is pretty obvious, and you could see this comparison coming. But as with our own alleged red-blue split, when you paint the map by county rather than state things look much more mixed. Let’s see how the maquilladora regions voted, for instance.