Daniel Matamala is by far one of the most influential journalists of the moment. Through his platform as the anchor face of Chilevisión, a panelist for Tolerancia Cero and, above all, as a Sunday columnist for La Tercera, Matamala sets the tone for the week in his sharp columns, summoning political actors, businessmen and institutions.
But the journalist Matamala often seems to be confused with the activist Matamala. The sharp and inquisitive pen or spokesman that he occupies to face certain sectors is not proportional to the kindness or condescension that he perceives when he confronts actors from his political current. A clear example was seen this Sunday in Zero Tolerance, when he harshly challenged the Spanish deputy Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, with inaccurate statements and biased opinions, in contrast to the lightness and complicity he had when confronting a hesitant Minister for Women, Antonia Orellana.
By the way, freedom of expression, opinion and the press are fundamental freedoms that are respected and promoted in all places and circumstances. However, when an obvious non-transparent bias is disguised in the name of that freedom and it is spoken from an apparently neutral moral pulpit, the legitimacy of the exercise of that freedom and those rights is called into question and deserves to be challenged.
In the last year, Daniel Matamala has written 54 columns for La Tercera, of which one in three (18) have been used to negatively question the right. Whether challenging the then President Piñera, the presidential candidates or the political positions that the sector defended in the Convention or in Congress, Matamala’s pen was relentless in representing his disagreement and his position on various matters. Contrarily sensu, in this period, he wrote only 13 columns on the left, and in 6 of them, Matamala was full of praise and praise for President Boric, his ministers and the sector they represent. In another 23 columns, although Matamala adopted a more neutral or right-wing position, he questioned both sectors, he always did so with an obvious bias to the left.
Daniel Matamala has every right to exercise journalism and his position of influence in the way he sees fit. But setting himself up –voluntarily or involuntarily- as the caton of Creole morality when he has such an obvious bias, is a fact that he deserves to be represented and questioned. Under apparent neutrality, he performs his various roles before a privileged audience and influences, directly and indirectly, the shaping of public opinion.
“The Republican Party is not committed to democracy”, “for 30 years, in every survey that was done, a consistent majority of Chileans wanted a new Constitution”, “Republican deputies present women as criminals” are some of the phrases that, only in this last week, Daniel Matamala has used from his apparent neutrality, taking for certain, inaccurate statements, loaded with value and lacking any objectivity.
The solution to this dilemma of journalism and activism is not easy. Surely there will be those who would like to censor and eradicate journalists/activists from the public sphere, pretending that communicators are true political eunuchs, detached from any capacity to give an opinion or make value judgments. Others, meanwhile, would prefer to continue looking away, accepting this double militancy as a fact of the cause and leaving no room for questioning.
In my opinion, the healthiest thing is to act with transparency and honesty. Daniel Matamala has every right to be a journalist and an activist, but a minimum act of sincerity would be to recognize his political domicile, so that the actors who interact with him and public opinion in general, can interact knowing from what position he assumes his intended moral outrage.