June 23, 2021

Spain’s El País Apologizes for Printing Fake Photo of Chávez

If authentic, it would have been a scoop, as Mr. Chávez has not been seen in public for over six weeks. But soon after the paper, El País, hit the streets, the photo was revealed as a fake, prompting an apology from El País to its readers.

The embarrassing mistake brought a barrage of criticism from Venezuelan officials who have long accused the international news media, especially in Spain, of being biased against Mr. Chávez’s socialist revolution and eager to report unfounded rumors about his health and cancer treatment.

“Crisis of capitalism is not just economic,” the Venezuelan information minister, Ernesto Villegas, wrote in a Twitter post. “It also corrodes the ‘independent’ press, which long ago abolished limits to attack Chávez.”

He called the photograph “grotesque” and asked in another post if El País would print a similar photograph of a European leader or of its editor. Employing a pejorative term used in Spain for South Americans, he added, “Yellow journalism valid if the victim is a revolutionary ‘sudaca.’ ”

He also posted a link to a 2008 YouTube video of a man undergoing a medical procedure that appeared to be the source of the photograph.

A short article that appeared beside the photo was headlined, “The Secret of Chavez’s Illness,” but that turned out to be misleading, as no secrets were revealed. Quoting unidentified sources, it said the image was taken in Cuba some days ago, but did not elaborate.

In a statement posted on its Web site later on Thursday, El País said that once it had ascertained that the man in the photograph was not Mr. Chávez, it stopped distributing the paper and sent out a new edition with a different front page.

The newspaper said it had obtained the picture from Gtres Online, a photo agency that it had worked with for several years. The Associated Press said Gtres had also offered the photo to it and another Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, but they both declined. El País did not explain how it realized that the photo was fake, but it apologized to its readers and said it would investigate what went wrong.

A person who answered the phone at Gtres Online said no one was available to comment.

It did not say how many copies of the newspaper with the fake photo made it into circulation. But Mr. Villegas posted a picture online of the copy of El País that arrived Thursday at the Venezuelan Embassy in Madrid, with the offending photo on the front page.

El País also said that the photograph appeared on its Web site for about half an hour before it was taken down.

Mr. Chávez has not been seen or heard from since he had cancer surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11, and the Venezuelan government has given few details about his condition. Recently, officials have said his health is improving, but the relative secrecy has led to widespread rumors, especially on social media like Twitter.

Last week, Vice President Nicolás Maduro, who is running the government in Mr. Chávez’s absence, referred to El País and another Spanish newspaper, ABC, that has printed questionable stories about Mr. Chávez’s health as “this garbage press.”

“We have had to confront a really miserable media war over the president’s life, his health,” Mr. Maduro said in an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE. “You can’t even call this yellow journalism. This is journalism full of evil that has installed itself around the world, particularly in Spain.”

María Eugenia Díaz contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/world/europe/spains-el-pais-apologizes-for-printing-fake-photo-of-chavez.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

German Paper Finds Draghi Not So Bad After All

FRANKFURT — Bild, a racy German daily that is easy to ridicule but hard to ignore, on Friday improved Mario Draghi’s chances of becoming the next president of the European Central Bank by dropping a campaign that depicted him as a feckless Italian who can’t be trusted with money.

“On second thought,” the newspaper said in its Friday edition, after noting how it had ridiculed Mr. Draghi in the past, “he is actually rather German, even Prussian.” The newspaper conferred honorary citizenship on Mr. Draghi, who is president of the Bank of Italy, and ran a doctored photo of him wearing a spiked helmet. “It looks good on him,” the caption said.

The newspaper’s faux naturalization of Mr. Draghi may have real political significance, as it gives Chancellor Angela Merkel more space to endorse Mr. Draghi without worrying about a public backlash stoked by the country’s most widely read newspaper.

Despite its focus on sex, scandal and football, Bild — which in apparent deference to the royal wedding did not run its usual Page 1 photo of a bare-breasted woman Friday — is taken seriously in political circles. Political leaders often grant exclusive interviews to the newspaper, which is based in Berlin but distributed nationally, when they have something to say to the German people.

Quoting unidentified sources, Bild also reported that Mrs. Merkel had decided to support Mr. Draghi as successor to Jean-Claude Trichet, whose term ends in October. The chancellor’s office denied Friday that she had made a decision. But Mr. Draghi’s candidacy looks increasingly inevitable after he won the backing of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France this week.

Bild’s clout is often overestimated, said Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist at the Free University of Berlin. “Ordinary people have absolutely no interest in who will be the next president of the E.C.B.,” Mr. Neugebauer said.

Still, Bild’s turnaround means “it’s easier for Mrs. Merkel to support this candidate,” Mr. Neugebauer said. “She won’t have any resistance from this important newspaper.”

German leaders had expected that Axel A. Weber, the Bundesbank president, would become the next E.C.B. president. But he unexpectedly took himself out of the running this year and resigned his Bundesbank post. Coincidentally, Friday was his last day in the job.

Top officials in Berlin had been careful not to criticize Mr. Draghi but seemed to still harbor hopes that they could find another German candidate. But there appeared to be no one else with the stature and experience needed to steer the euro zone through the crisis created by debt problems in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

In revising its opinion about Mr. Draghi, Bild noted that he is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has often clashed with Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister facing charges that he paid an underage girl for sex.

Bild described Mr. Draghi as strict, down to earth, determined and loyal. “As Italy’s top banker, he has since 2006 preached economic reforms, debt reduction and spending discipline,” the paper said. “Bild therefore grants him honorary citizenship.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/30/business/global/30draghi.html?partner=rss&emc=rss