December 3, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Two elections with different results make Page One news all over

Two would-be leaders-for-life faced the voters of their respective countries yesterday and were Page One news today. Blustery Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who last made these columns on Nov. 12 when the King of Spain suggested that he "shut up," was told to do so by his countrymen. Russian voters asked their President Vladimir Putin to stick around, although he gave no indication of what he will be doing when his presidential term ends next spring.

For many U.S. dailies, Chavez – closer to home and threatening to cut off the supply of oil – was big news. The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson combines the two elections in one headline: "Putin prevails; Chavez bid to boost power fails." In Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News leads with "Venezuela rejects power bid by Chavez," while the Los Angeles Times tells its Page One readers that "Venezuelan voters reject bid by Chavez to extend powers" and offers a photo and a caption beginning with "Putin gets a strong mandate." The Miami Herald has a bold Page One head telling all in capital letters that "Voters say no to Chavez bid." Chicago Tribune leads with "Chavez bid to boost power fails," while The Boston Globe reports that "Venezuelans rebuff Chavez." The New York Times leads with the Venezuela story and has Russia as the off-lead, echoing the question of many with the head "Party's triumph raises question of Putin's plans." South American dailies, including La Hora in Quito, Ecuador, and Vanguardia Liberal in Bucaramanga, Colombia, like the sound of "Venezuela says NO."

European newspapers played up the Putin story while wondering what it means. For the International Herald Tribune in Paris the off-lead is a news analysis with the head "A Putin landslide and a big question." A drop head asks "Next year, who will be in charge?" while adding that "Vote ushers in a period of instability." Putin is big on Page One of Die Presse in Vienna, Austria, Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, Le Monde in Paris and SME in Bratislava, Slovakia. But, since questions have been raised about the honesty of the Russian voting, today's prize goes to The Guardian in London for its headline claiming that "Intimidation and dirty tricks help Putin to massive landslide."

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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