Last night all major Chilean networks broadcast the last televised debate before the election next month. I must confess I did not watch all of it. I had just eaten and didn't have the stomach for it. But what I did see was not pretty.
In sum, Enriquez-Ominami was more inarticulate than usual. Frei was more flustered than usual. Arrate was a bit more conciliatory towards Frei than usual. And Piñera looked calmer than usual. It was, undoubtedly, Piñera's night. The press is certainly presenting it that way, but that ought to be no surprise at this point.
What was surprising, however, was the agressiveness of the questions, and the reporters behind the questions. I suppose the format lent itself to aggresiveness, but the candidates were consistenly being cut off in mid-answer -- not when they were being long-winded, but just as they were trying to devote more than 15 seconds to a question. It looked as if the entire format was designed to make the journalists look smart and the candidates look bad. It worked.
I dont' think it was a good night for Chilean journalism, for Chilean politics, or the Chilean presidential elections of 2009.