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MEDIA

TVE "fires" morning star Pastor

Anchor says she was pushed out by new PP-appointed leaders of state broadcaster

Rosario G. Gómez
Ana Pastor (left) interviews Popular Party Secretary General María Dolores de Cospedal in April 2011.
Ana Pastor (left) interviews Popular Party Secretary General María Dolores de Cospedal in April 2011.

"I'm being laid off because I do journalism, and because of a politically motivated decision," asserts Ana Pastor, the anchor of the morning program Los desayunos de TVE for the last three years. The state broadcaster recently announced in a five-line press release that the popular journalist was ending her period at TVE after rejecting an offer to host a weekly late-night show.

"She declined the offer by the director of TVE's newscasts, Julio Somoano, to direct and host an interview program on late-night television," the short note read.

Pastor's version is quite different, however. "I thought they were going to offer me something, but there was never anything specific. Somoano called me and suggested that we reflect together about the future. 'Something you do well, like interviews,' he told me. But there was nothing specific. It was all very vague. He was improvising and kept repeating that we would see about it between now and January," says Pastor, who interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2011.

"They don't want to call it a layoff, but that is what it is. I am not willing to charge public money to walk the hallways."

Long before TVE finalized Pastor's "brilliant" career at the public station, where she arrived in 2006, she had already been singled out by leaders of the Popular Party (PP), in power since December. She had a famous on-the-air dispute with PP Secretary General Dolores de Cospedal in April of last year, when the politician questioned the neutrality of TVE's journalists and Pastor came out in their defense.

I'm being laid off for doing journalism; this is a politically motivated decision"

The PP spokesman in the congressional RTVE oversight committee, Ramón Moreno Bustos, also questioned the anchor's attitude. In his blog, the conservative deputy compared Pastor's "friendly" and "flattering" treatment of Socialist guests on her program with "the impertinence and harassment" she reserved for PP guests. And after asserting that "things are not being done right," he concluded: "Long before Ana Pastor, there was already the program Los desayunos de TVE , and it will continue to exist after her with infinite possibilities of improving."

Yet not all Socialists viewed Pastor's program as a bed of roses. José Bono, a former defense minister, felt so uncomfortable with the persistent questions over the candidacy of fellow Socialist Carme Chacón for the post of party leader, that he addressed his host as "Miss Rottenmeier," in reference to the strict governess in the television children's cartoon show Heidi , very popular in Spain in the 1980s.

"It is evident," says Pastor, "that politicians dislike uncomfortable interviews. But in my case there has been a campaign from a sector of the PP, even though I am aware that not everyone in La Moncloa [the seat of government] shared the decision of firing me."

"I've been dismissed from #losdesayunosdetve Proud of the work by the ENTIRE team. A sad day but today more than ever I continue to believe in Journalism," wrote the 34-year-old journalist in her Twitter account. "No matter what they say... I know I am being dismissed for doing journalism. And they offered me nothing specific," Pastor added in another tweet.

Meanwhile, TVE's news director Julio Somoano has completed his management team with professionals who worked with his predecessor Alfredo Urdaci - who was accused by the trade union CCOO of being biased in favor of the PP - and with people from Telemadrid, the regional station that Somoano himself worked for, garnering criticism from workers for a PP bias as well.

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