The Dallas Morning News took a poll in late March, by MUND Associates, that showed a close presidential race in Mexico:
"The poll of 1,182 registered voters, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, gave Mr. Labastida 34 percent of voter preferences in a three-way race. Former Guanajuato Gov. Vicente Fox of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, had 30 percent. Former Mexico City mayor Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, had 19 percent."
That same week, the New York Times published a story by Sam Dillon -- the Pulitzer-picked model of the desk-fatigued Mexico City bureau chiefs -- practically predicting that Fox would win, and completely disregarding Cárdenas - the only candidate with high (96 percent) name recognition and precisely supported by millions of poor rural Mexicans who do not have telephones for the pollsters to reach them. (Cárdenas emerged from third place in the polls, in 1997, to gain the governorship of Mexico City).
Dillon wrote in the Times of the bankers' convention without mentioning the skirmish (click here) between BANAMEX's Hernández and Cárdenas that has breathed new life into the latter's campaign. Dillon practically predicting that PAN candidate Vicente Fox will win. And he said outright, four months before the election, that the race is between Fox and Labastida (at least among Mexican bankers):
"A bankers' convention in Acapulco this month showed just how clearly some members of an elite that has always supported the governing party unconditionally now believe it is time to end its long monopoly over the presidency.
"At the convention on March 4, hundreds of financial executives leaped into a standing ovation the moment Mr. Fox strode onto the convention floor, cowboy boots freshly - and personally - polished on the plane ride up .
"The bankers gave Mr. Labastida a lukewarm reception.
"The third major candidate, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, a former Mexico City mayor, is so far behind that some in his camp are urging him to withdraw from the race so the opposition can unite behind Mr. Fox ."
What's this got to do with the drug issue? Narco News commentary: The Dallas Morning News poll was the only US-made survey of the Mexican electorate after the banking convention in which Cárdenas - and not Fox - generated massive media coverage within Mexico. Cárdenas indeed has a campaign that has stalled, yet the Texan poll showed Cárdenas almost doubling his stated support, and Fox to be four points down from Labastida. The Dallas newspaper also published a sidebar about why Mexicans don't trust public opinion polls: that the grand majority of those that are published have a particular interest behind them and are meant to manipulate - not inform - the public. Both newspapers judged Labastida to be vulnerable. But only the Times went so far as to declare Fox the heir-apparent to the opposition throne in Mexico.
As to why Sam Dillon of the Times covered the Acapulco bankers' convention as he did (he clearly was at least present with former Coca-Cola executive Fox when the candidate "personally" - wrote Mr. Dillon - polished his boots for the speech), without mentioning the Cárdenas-Hernández conflict that dominated Mexican news coverage, that is because Mr. Dillon is already a player inside of the story: the unethical journalistic protector of the owner of Mexico's largest bank.
The New York Times' Sam Dillon problem:
See the New York weekly Village Voice "Press Clips" column by Cynthia Cotts of Feb. 23-29 in which Mr. Dillon admits that, since 1998, he has known about the narco-accusations against BANAMEX owner Roberto Hernández. And view his lame reasons for why he never published that story.
And Mr. Dillon acknowledges that even when President Bill Clinton visited Hernández's Yucatán hacienda -- for an "anti-drug" summit! -- in February 1999, he decided not to inform Times readers that Hernández is widely regarded in that region as a major narco-trafficker.
Perhaps Mr. Dillon's discounting of the Cárdenas candidacy was a punishment for the candidate's audacity to criticize the New York Times' protected informant, the "narco-banker," Roberto Hernández.
According to Proceso magazine, Hernández was the silent hand behind press accusations - including in the NY Times? - against his arch-rival in the competition for coastal lands in "the Cocaine Triangle" south of Cancún; the now fugitive ex-governor Mario Villanueva.
The transparent dismissal by the Times scribe of the Cárdenas candidacy - its newsworthy surge be damned - was to "report" that Fox now represents the only serious opposition to the PRI. (Numerous Mexican journalists and commentators have referred to FOX's National Action Party, or PAN, as "the domesticated opposition," in sum, just another head on the same hydra.)
The vote is on July 2nd. The next ten weeks will tell. And Narco News asserts that the Mexican electoral situation is far more complicated and volatile than NY Times readers can grasp based on the scant information they are provided. The game underway in Mexico is not what US voters would call a normal election, despite the persistent efforts by the likes of Mr. Dillon to spin the incredible party line that democracy exists south of the Border.
Advice to New Yorkers who want accurate news on US-Mexican relations: seek alternate routes. Thanks to Mr. Dillon -- subject of an ongoing Narco News investigation -- Times readers now know who polished Mr. Fox's boots. Discerning readers can also see which powerful media correspondent is licking them. But why? There are answers to that question and Narco News is hot on the trail: Stay tuned.
This Just In: The Washington Post offered team coverage of the Mexican contest on Sunday April 16th by Mexico City correspondent Molly Moore, Correspondent John Ward Anderson and researcher Garance Burke. (This, a sharp contrast to NY Times coverage of Mexico in which, unless the more formidable investigative reporter Tim Golden weighs in from the US, the bureau "team" consists of Sam Dillon and his wife, former Boston Globe correspondent Julia Preston; thus offering to the Dillon family an unethical monopoly on his paper's Mexico coverage.)
The Washington Post analysis of the Mexican presidential race in which the various narco-accusations at play were reported. The Post , in a marked difference from the NY Times coverage, declared the ruling PRI party candidate Labastida to enjoy an "11 to 15 point lead" over Fox. And, unlike the Times, reported as key to the story the charges by Mexico City's prosecutor against the ruling regime:
From the Washington Post:
"Mexican Presidential Campaign Gets Dirty"
"MEXICO CITY - ...Labastida has been forced to defend himself against accusations that he was "partners with narco-traffickers" when he was governor of the northern state of Sinaloa, where drug mafias are influential and deeply entrenched. Labastida has denied the allegations, calling the charges "a low, dirty, rotten blow."
"But the ruling party also has had to contend with more than remarks. With the left-of-center Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in control of the Mexico City government for the first time, the city attorney general has initiated unprecedented investigations against powerful PRI officials. City Attorney General Samuel del Villar has accused the PRI tourism minister, Oscar Espinosa, of embezzling $45 million from city coffers during his tenure as the appointed city administrator before 1997. The charges are particularly damaging to the PRI, because Espinosa also served as finance chairman for President Ernesto Zedillo's campaign six years ago.
"Del Villar also has alleged that one of the nation's two television networks, TV Azteca, was used by former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari's brother to launder illicit money. The network has denied the charges. The former president's brother, Raul, is in prison on a murder conviction and corruption charges.
"Ruling party officials say the city attorney general is using his position to launch politically motivated investigations. Del Villar has responded by accusing the ruling party of interfering in some of his highest-profile criminal cases to make his office appear ineffective."
"Meanwhile, Mexico City Mayor Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, running a distant third as PRD's candidate, has engaged in far less negative campaigning than the two front-runners. It is widely believed in Mexico that Cardenas won the 1988 presidential election, but that the PRI used voter fraud to put Salinas in office.
"Public opinion polls and the candidates' own focus groups indicate the public is becoming weary of the candidates' personal attacks. Most public opinion polls now give Labastida an 11- to 15-point lead over Fox.
Now, click here and read about the courageous Mexican journalists who published the facts that the New York Times censored....