American in Spain

Bullfighting on NBC Nightly News

July 24, 2007

Most mornings I watch the previous day's edition of the NBC Nightly News (with Brian Williams). Yesterday, they did a report on "Bullfighting in Spain" (viewable with ads at link above), where Brian introduced it as,

And now we go to Spain, where, tonight, perhaps the best known national custom is under attack. A lot of people think it's high time to do away with a traditional pastime. They want to ban bullfighting, because, they say, it amounts to torture.

They later show a protest in the streets of Barcelona against bullfighting and drop the figure that "72% of people in the Barcelona region oppose bullfighting".

So, in the region most opposed to bullfighting, bullfighting is almost as well supported as President Bush in his entire country. I imagine that the region of the US that most opposes Bush probably thinks that his actions "amount to torture". Sorry, that political jab escaped unintentionally.

This is so not news in Spain. The real news in Spain is that Barcelona has lifted its ban on bullfighting and recently hosted its first bullfight in years. Chances are that that's where the protest footage was from. So this means bullfighting opposition is weakening in Spain, not growing, as the news piece suggested. They also don't mention that one of the main reasons that people in Catalunya (the "state" where Barcelona is located) oppose bullfighting is that they oppose anything Spanish. They want to be an independent country, with their own language and government and want little to do with Spain. From how much they won't shut up about it, I'd say that they are even more adamant about it than the Basques. The Catalunyan separatists just aren't dumbasses like the Basque separatists and are going about it peacefully and politically.

The other bit of context missing from the news report is that there is a protest march on the streets of Spain every single day! Every day on the news here, they show some multi-hundred crowd somewhere protesting their particular grievance in the street. People love to protest. As Michael Moore put so succinctly in Sicko, "In Europe the governments fear the people, and in the US, the people fear the government." We're talking about the country where, if a high school tries to change the class schedule by fifteen minutes, the entire student body goes on strike and doesn't go to school the next day. Marga lost count of how many days of high school she missed because the student body was protesting something, often unrelated to the school administration at all. And she was usually just annoyed by missing school the way Lisa Simpson would be.

So, to conclude, they went to Y, the city most opposed to X, reported how X has been declining in Y, neglecting to mention the real news of X making a comeback in Y, and then concluded that X may soon be coming to an end. Do you think it would be fair for a Spanish news crew to go to, say, Seattle and ask about the future of NASCAR and talk about how NASCAR is clearly opposed and on the decline?1 Not enough Harry Potter news to fill the half hour, apparently. Pretty shoddy journalism, nonetheless.

To be fair, Brian Williams remained completely neutral. That's one of the things that makes him some of the only US news media that I can stand. He's good at saying, "Some people oppose...", or "According to some people...". For that, I thank him.

1I have no idea about NASCAR's support or lack of support in Seattle. It was just the best example I could think of.