What is it about the liberal media that regularly confuses mass protests with public opinion? In Mexico, the vote has been certified, and conservative Felipe Calderon is the president-elect. But yesterday, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador held a massive protest in Mexico City insisting he's the winner. The top of The Washington Post's front page Sunday carries a large photo of "Tens of thousands" of AMLO supporters, under the headline "Contender Alleges Mexico's Vote Was Rigged." Reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia began the story as if he was waving a leftist flag in the square:
Downtown Mexico City swelled Saturday with the accumulated frustration and rage of the poor, who were stoked into a sign-waving, fist-pumping frenzy by new fraud allegations that failed populist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador hopes will overturn the results of Mexico's presidential election.
López Obrador ignited the smoldering emotions of his followers Saturday morning, alleging for the first time that Mexico's electoral commission had rigged its computers before the July 2 election to ensure the half-percentage-point victory of Felipe Calderón, a champion of free trade. In a news conference before the rally, López Obrador called Calderón "an employee" of Mexico's powerful upper classes and said a victory by his conservative opponent would be "morally impossible."
Let's imagine, just for the sake of theory, that it's a reporter's job to report the facts, and not make political assumptions. It's obvious that Lopez Obrador's entire political strategy was about accumulating and stoking the "frustration and rage of the poor." But can we assume that everyone who was poor in Mexico voted for the socialists? And that everyone in the upper classes voted for that "employee" Calderon? Roig-Franzia seems to forward that thesis without any attempt at qualification.
The entire story seems dedicated to publicizing the leftist party's case, on Lopez Obrador and his strategies and the voices of his supporters complaining that "They stole this from us" and "The Mexican people are awakening." There is no room in the story for Calderon or his supporters -- or from nonpartisan political analysts or electoral experts of any kind. It does acknowledge that European Union electoral observers found no significant irregularities, that most Mexicans have accepted the results, and that Calderon has been taking congratulatory calls from world leaders. But it ended as it began, in a flourish that suggests the reporter's allegiances:
After López Obrador left the stage Saturday, the crowd lingered. Someone started singing the national anthem, and countless voices joined in its rallying cry: "Mexicans, to the shout of war!"
"Countless voices" is a swoon in print, not a just-the-facts, ma'am approach.