The Media Lifeline

Accepting an interview with a highly-rated Spanish TV show was a gamble for Nicolás Maduro. But even before it airs, looks like it already backfired.

During his press conference with foreign media on October 17th, Nicolás Maduro got a video message from the Spanish comedian and journalist Jordi Évole, who requested an interview for his TV show Salvados. Maduro said he watches the show with his primera combatiente (broadcast on cable and satellite by Antena 3 Internacional, which apparently Maduro watches a lot), so he accepted the invitation.  One week later, Mr. Évole took a plane to Caracas.

Salvados began in 2008 as a humorous take on issues of the day, evolving later into something more serious. For years, it has made a huge splash in ratings and received many awards, including the Premio Iris (the Spanish version of the Emmys). 

Recently, Évole made headlines for his tough interview with Carles Puigdemont, and in the beginning of its new season, he and and the Salvados crew went to Mosul and Raqqa, cities controlled by ISIS until not long ago.

With this gesture, Maduro could be trying to prove that he wants to rehabilitate his image abroad, even if that contradicts statements like “I wish I could be a dictator” or comparing himself to Stalin. Seems like the usual PR methods of hired lobbyists and full-page paper ads are not working in shifting the impression left by this year’s protests.

He showed curiosity for Maduro’s arguments, because he was “heavily caricaturized” in the media.

The guy probably thinks Salvados could treat him fairly. After all, his alto pana Pablo Iglesias has appeared on the show (both alone and debating with Albert Rivera) and Bolivia’s Evo Morales gave Évole a candid interview.

Before the trip, Évole told Spanish radio Onda Cero about his plans for the interview in Miraflores, including “hitting the streets” and “soaking” in our reality. He showed curiosity for Maduro’s arguments, because he was “heavily caricaturized” in the media, after dancing the crisis away, the Despacito fiasco or being caught on TV eating an empanada during an official event.

No wonder Nico wants that Ley contra el Odio ASAP — and the ANC is fully complying.

The Venezuelan protests got huge coverage by the Spanish media, which brought the constant ire of the chavista embassy in Madrid. Even Maduro got into a media beef with Antena 3’s presenter Susanna Griso. BTW, Salvados airs on Antena 3’s sister channel Lasexta.

After 30 hours (and lots of waiting), the interview finally went down. To Évole, it was worth the wait. To Maduro? In his own words:

“That wasn’t an interview. It was an interrogation. The only thing missing was him slapping me, hitting me. Even the lights he used were like I was in Guantánamo…”

The following day, after Maduro’s comments, Évole responded in Antena 3’s late show El Hormiguero, saying the president wasn’t prepared for the material, including some he gathered during the five days he spent in Caracas.

We’ll have to wait until the show airs to find out what’s up (at the time of publication there’s no specific date). Will Venezuelans have the chance to watch it? There’s the possibility of Antena 3 Internacional sharing the same fate of CNN en Español and Caracol Internacional, before the interview comes out.