The last two weeks of the trial of the independence process have featured witnesses requested by the defence teams. This means that we have heard testimonies by several members of the Mossos d’Esquadra [the Catalan police force] and a large number of voters, whose words serve to lend credence to the defendant’s version of events.
As a consequence, the Spanish media have significantly reduced their coverage. In previous weeks, thanks to the prosecution witnesses, they offered up a daily dose of news, paying special attention to the violence perpetrated by the masses, the looks of hatred and the death threats. Now, however, the trial has vanished. This is true for both Informativos Telecinco and La Sexta Noticias TV news programmes. It is also true, to a lesser extent, of Antenna 3’s evening news, with Vicente Vallés. The news programme has included coverage of testimony from voters, but in such a bitty manner —with just three or four word-long soundbites from their statements— that the result has been rather bizarre. Editing the statements to such an extent has eventually twisted their original message.
But the most blatant distortion happened this Monday, when the above news programmes decided they did have time to report on the trial. However, they did so in a biased manner, to the serious detriment of one the defendants; in particular, Jordi Sànchez.
On Monday, one of the Brimo [Catalan riot police] police officers speaking for the defence stated that when he arrived at the Ministry of the Economy on 20 September, he was confronted by Jordi Sànchez in an agitated, arrogant state, who immediately phoned Trapero [head of the Mossos at the time] to berate him for having called out the riot police. As one might expect, all the Spanish news programmes reported on the officer’s words in ominous terms. Vicente Vallés warned: "The testimony leaves one of the defendants, Jordi Sànchez, in a very delicate situation, legally speaking". What is shocking is that no news programme reported on what the police officer went on to say. In reply to the next question, he declared that, in a subsequent conversation, Sànchez proved to be affable, willing to negotiate and cooperative, and that they even exchanged phone numbers in order to better coordinate how to manage the crowd. In response to further questions, the officer explained that for the rest of the night, everything Sànchez agreed to do on the phone was carried out in an efficient manner, showing that both his attitude and his actions proved decisive in determining how the events unfolded.
To have reported all of this, however, would have meant explaining too much and giving a version of events which contradicts the thesis espoused by these media organisations. It’s all about dehumanizing your enemy. If we believed that it is a fair trial and that those who had to listen to the full version of the witness’ testimony —the court— got to do so, we might consider it to be of no importance. The problem is when one has the feeling that both the judicial and media machinery are working hand in hand.