From Mexico: Conservative Wins, Leftists Whine, Times Fawns

From George W. Bush's win over Al Gore to last year's election in Mexico, the Times just can't accept the fact that a conservative can win a close election.

"Film on Mexico's Disputed '06 Election Stirs Emotions" by James McKinley Jr. in Mexico City documented the controversy behind the new movie "Fraud, Mexico 2006," by Mexican director Luis Mandoki, who had previously done a favorable film about the left-wing Obrador. McKinley claimed:

"A documentary about last year's disputed presidential election has drawn big crowds and generated controversy here, after its director, Luis Mandoki, waged a long battle to find a distributor willing to take on a politically charged film.

"Last year's race was a virtual tie, but electoral officials determined that the conservative candidate, Felipe Calderón, had edged out a left-wing populist, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, by 243,000 votes, out of 41 million cast. "

A quarter-million votes out of 41 million means that the conservative Calderon beat Obrador by just over half a percentage point. Is that really a "virtual tie" that required electoral officials to flip a coin? Not exactly.

The Times used a similar formulation to denigrate Calderon's win back on July 5, 2006, calling his provisional vote margin (then just under 400,000) "the narrowest of leads." NewsBuster Tom Johnson noted thatby the NYT's arithmetic, "Richard Nixon, who officially lost the 1960 U.S. presidential election by roughly 113,000 votes, actually defeated John F. Kennedy."

McKinley hyped the left-wing "stolen election" idea.

"The election officials, who all belonged to parties opposed to Mr. López Obrador, rejected calls for a complete recount and strictly interpreted the law to limit the number of ballot boxes reopened. The courts later upheld Mr. Calderón's victory in the face of mass protests by Mr. López Obrador's supporters.

"One of the many Mexicans who contend the election was flawed enough to merit a recount was Mr. Mandoki, a successful director and filmmaker here and in Hollywood. In the period before the election, Mr. Mandoki made a glowing biographical film about Mr. López Obrador, a populist who promised to end tax breaks for the rich and break up monopolies.

"The new film, 'Fraud, Mexico 2006,' lays out in detail the arguments of leftists who say the combination of a smear campaign and fraud at polling places swung the election to President Calderón. Mr. Mandoki got financial backing for the movie from Federico Arreola, a journalist, entrepreneur and close campaign adviser to Mr. López Obrador.

"The film contends that several powerful business executives; Vicente Fox, then the president; and Mr. Calderón waged a negative campaign against the leftist candidate, despite restrictions in Mexican law on mudslinging and on campaigning by current officeholders. In advertisements on television, radio and the Internet, they asserted that Mr. López Obrador was a potential left-wing authoritarian who would destroy the economy. Some spots suggested he was like the autocratic president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.

"The large number of people going to see the film - more than 300,000 in the first two weeks - showed that the controversy has not been put to rest and that a good part of the population still feels something went awry in the balloting."

Only later did McKinley admit, sotto voce:

"The film falls short, however, of demonstrating that the problems were extensive enough to nullify the results. The courts found the irregularities cut both ways and were not numerous enough to change the outcome."