On Thursday King Felipe made the front page of ABC. On Wednesday, it was El País and La Razón. Last week, El Mundo and, again, La Razón. We could keep going back in time: every few days some Madrid-based newspaper will have the king and his wife on their front page, always in a positive light. Or at least that is their intention: in fact, the story often comes across as slighty grotesque due to the considerable gap between the royals’ intended message and what is actually conveyed.
The papers have been reporting on the king’s tour “of all the Spanish regions” to encourage the general public to spend their holidays in Spain. The fact that this began the same week when it was revealed that Felipe and Letizia’s honeymoon around the world cost half a million euros —paid by Juan Carlos, the King Emeritus, and a friend— is evidence to the confidence that the crown has in Spain’s news outlets. Either that, or perhaps it is yet another indication of their disconnect with reality. Who knows.
Their latest photo printed in La Razón, a low down shot of the smartly-dressed royal couple looking at each other while commoners in loose-fitting beachwear are looking at them from the beach below is a sight to behold. And an example of social engineering through semiotics, of course.
The management of the freedom of expression is highly malleable stuff. There is a comparison going round on social media that I would like to mention at this point. When Spain’s official pollster (CIS) did something as simple as asking the public if they would accept a news system based only on official sources, ABC [a conservative Madrid daily] printed this headline on the front page: [socialist PM] “Pedro Sánchez aims to bring in censorship”. Well, it turns out that when the PP government passed the so-called “gag law”, the same newspaper printed this other headline: “Safeguarding Spain’s National Security”. “National” and “Security” in upper-case. The truth is, ABC does not oppose censorship. It just doesn’t want the left practising it.