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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bernardo Neustadt will no longer have to be driven crazy by Argentina.

So I just read in the newspapers from Argentina that Bernardo Neustadt
passed away today (dia del periodista/day of the journalist). In many
different ways how very sad.. Below I write down some initial thoughts
on the news of his death....

Bernardo Neustadt was without a doubt the greatest/most influential
argentine journalist of my lifetime. Born in 1925 in Romania he moved
to Argentina when still very young and started his career as a sports
journalist before moving on to be a journalist covering the news.

By the early 1980s his program "Tiempo Nuevo" ("New Time") became the
most popular news roundtable type program of Argentina. Basically the
program aired one night a week- was always watched by pretty much
anyone interested in the news and what was going on in Argentine
politics- and counted with whatever guests he wanted to have on the
show. From Presidential candidates to Senators anyone who was anyone
or who wanted to be anyone would go on his show and sit around a table
talking and taking questions. I remember watching this program so very
often as a teenager that I greet the news of his passing with great
sadness... Neustadt for many years counted with Mariano Grondona as
his trusty sidekick/co-conspirator.. One of Neustadt's most succesfull
journalistic devices was the creation of the "Dona Rosa" persona or
"Regular Joe" (in this case lady) and he would often speak about how
the news items would impact "Dona Rosa" or how "Dona Rosa" would feel
in a way simplyfying and cutting through the endless verbiage, baloney
and flowery language to distill what it all meant for the person on
the street OR asking guests questions in the name of the person on the
street. Neustadt as has been pointed out was liberal in his thinking
and his thinking in turn no doubt shaped mine. I remember when in the
last throes of the Alfonsin government (1983-1989) Neustadt would
often have the Argentine economist cum politician (formerly Minister
of Economy under Frondizi) Alvaro Alsogaray on his show and gave
Alsogaray a platform from which to make his case for a need for the
government to move in a more liberal direction (less control of the
economy, less control of prices, less control of the public service
companies [he was a big advocate for privatizing poorly run
inefficient state owned enterprises]). I also remember Carlos Menem's
appearances on Neustadt's show prior the 1989 presidential election
when Menem was smartly trying to win over and court some of Neustadt's
viewers who tended to be perhaps a bit wealthier and better off than
the average argentine; essentially Menem used his appearances to
convince a segment of Argentina which while it didn't have the numbers
did have disproportionate economic power and wealth that where he
(read Menem) to win the presidency he would not be some left wing nut
after their money.. that he was not a crazy man basically... In the
end Menem did win the presidency and co-opted much of Alsogaray's
government reform agenda which I believe fundamentally reflected
Neustadt's own views.

This is why Menem essentially began to count with great support from
Neustadt. Unfortunately as the 1990s progressed - and I was largely
absent from Argentina during this timeframe- Neustadt became
increasingly discredited because it was felt that he had checked his
journalistic integrity at the door by so closely identifying with and
sharing the Menem government's objectives. But it is hard to deny that
while Menem did much wrong he did enact important reforms and for a
while it did seem to pretty much all that Argentina was finally
reversing decades of stagnation and decline. However, by the time the
economy crumbled in 2001 and Menem's succesor government of De la Rua
was forced to leave power amidst chaos Neustadt was no longer a
serious player in Argentine journalism and he pretty much took the
fall with Menem who in my opinion while doing many wrong things was
not as much to blame for the collapse as the wholly inept De la Rua
was. ... In any case by the late 1990s Neustadt's once sidekick had
eclipsed his master in terms of popularity...

In his last years Neustadt grew by all accounts increasingly bitter
with how things had evolved in Argentina but I think its important to
remember him for what he did do in the 1980s and early 1990s when his
program helped bring an understanding of liberal economics to millions
of people and in a way helped push the country forward.. that the
momentum from this move forward was not enough and Argentina
subsequently regressed into the shell of a nation it is today cannot
in my mind be blamed on Bernardo Neustadt and I for one feel a great
sense of sadness and absence at his loss today fittingly the day of
the journalist.

Below his last column from his website (
Apparently he published it yesterday.


6 de Junio de 2008

A mis amigos y amigas,

No terminamos de asombrarnos y de aterrarnos: Daniel Scioli, el
esclavo que completa la Santísima Trinidad, dijo: "con la comida no se
jode". ¿Néstor lo obligó a gritarle esta barbaridad a los que lo
votaron?. Estoy convencido de que sí. La Señora es la dueña de "los
pobres y de los Derechos Humanos". Y va a la Iglesia con su cartera
Vuitton. Un avión de Aerolíneas tenía que salir de Roma con 250
pasajeros. Lo retrasaron varias horas. Los pasajeros, que estaban en
el aeropuerto, entienden que la demora fue por darle el avión a la
Señora PresidenTA que volvía con su amor por los alimentos. Rompieron
las instalaciones del aeropuerto de Roma. Aerolíneas desmintió. Es la
interpretación. Yo creo que sí. Mienten tanto, que no le creo nada al
Matrimonio Presidencial. Nacieron con la trampa en el alma. Quieren
llevarnos a una Guerra Civil. Deben ser adictos a la SANGRE.

Estaba desayunando esta mañana en el Costa Galana cuando se me acercan
dos señoras que me reconocieron y me preguntaron:
-Señor Neustadt, ¿el Matrimonio se quiere quedar con el país? BN -
No. Se quieren fugar. De esto también estoy seguro. Argumentarán que
la oligarquía no los deja gobernar, que querían trabajar por los
pobres y se van con plata de los argentinos que les alcanzará para
vivir diez vidas. En Munich o en Madrid. La tierra Argentina ya no es
para ellos.

Bernardo Neustadt

PD: Ayer, en Coronel Vidal, unos chacareros detuvieron mi auto para
entregarme un pequeño comunicado. Cuando me reconocieron, nació un
gran amor recíproco. Hombres y mujeres apenas vestidos, con las manos
callosas, me saludaron cariñosamente. Mientras, en la radio se
escuchaba el aullido de Kristina con una de las tantas mentiras que
tiene en su boca: "Si hace 90 días que hacen huelga es porque tienen
plata" y Scioli insistiendo: "con la comida no se jode". Tuve ganas de

Les recomiendo hablar con sus hijos de este momento que vive el país.
Hasta el lunes.

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