Waugh and “The Editorial Line”

The Mexican newspaper El Universal has posted an opinion article on the political situation in Mexico that opens with a quote from Waugh’s 1938 novel Scoop. This is entitled “La linea editorial”:

Evelyn Waugh published in 1938 a satirical novel about war correspondents. They are sending out of confusion a good man (William Boot) into a conflagration and he has the following dialogue with the head of international news (Mr Salter):

“–Can you tell me who is fighting  who in Ismailia?

–I think it’s the Patriots and the Traitors.

–Yes, but which is which?

— Oh, I don’t know that. That’s Policy, you see.

[Spanish version: Esa es cuestion de la linea editorial. Literally retranslated: “That’s a question from the editorial line.” (Scoop, Penguin 2011, p. 57; Spanish version entitled  ¡Noticia bomba!,)]

After the morning talk of the President on April 22, I remembered that passage. The fundamental idea of AMLO [ President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador], if I do not misunderstand, is to establish two sides with integrity and once they are configured, “the editorial line” should support the good against the bad. And who defines the editorial line: he does. He leads the Patriots and those who oppose him are Traitors. Waugh intended a parody. Our President is serious.

The translation is by Google with edits and substitution of the original English quote from the novel. The article is by Jose Woldenberg who is a Professor at the Autonomous University of Mexico and goes on to elaborate what he sees as President Lopez Obrador’s position:

The public space in democracy, where journalism plays a strategic role, resembles a detuned chorus of voices. That is its fundamental characteristic and its value. […] And listening to the President, it would seem that he wants a public space in which the government’s voice is equivalent to the revealed truth, and also accompanied by a concert of echoes.

UPDATE (29 April 2020): The post was modified to reflect additional translation of the Spanish text.


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