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Cablegate: Embassy Election Night Event in Buenos Aires Reaches Over

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUENOS AIRES 001544

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STATE FOR WHA/BSC: JSHOWELL; IIP/WHA: PCOZZENS; WHA/PDA: JDICKSON

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TAGS: PREL OEXC OIIP SCUL AR KPAO KSUM OEXC AR

SUBJECT: Embassy Election Night Event in Buenos Aires Reaches Over
10 Million Argentines

1. Summary: The U.S. Embassy's election night party attracted the
widest and most positive media coverage of any Embassy event held in
Argentina in recent memory. Hosted by the Embassy at the American
Club of Buenos Aires on the evening of November 4 and morning of
November 5, the celebration of democracy at its best included a mock
vote by Argentine citizens, remarks by the CDA, a mock debate by
(well-informed Argentine graduate students posing as) Obama and
McCain, and a contest to guess the outcome of elections in
battleground states and the total number of electoral votes garnered
by the winning candidate. The impact in Argentine television,
radio, Internet, and press media was substantial, allowing us to
transmit a message of optimism about American democracy and the
future of the bilateral relationship to an estimated 10 million
Argentines. One radio station broadcast an interview with the CDA
that reached 600 stations throughout the hemisphere. End Summary.


Election Night Elicits Massive Media Response
------------------------------------------

2. Mission Buenos Aires sponsored an election night party for over
300 Argentine guests and 80 media contacts. Event participants
viewed U.S. election returns on four large screens featuring CNN
Espanol and CNN International. The evening's program featured
remarks by CDA, who focused on the areas of cooperation our two
democracies enjoy and Argentina's 25 years of uninterrupted
democracy. Guests also enjoyed a mock presidential debate with two
University of Belgrano students taking the role of McCain and Obama.
Argentine guests were invited to vote for their presidential
candidate of choice, received "I voted" buttons, and later in the
evening learned that Obama won their election by a vote of two to
one. Guests also participated in a contest predicting who the next
U.S. president would be, how many electoral votes he would win, and
which candidate would win the battleground states of Ohio,
Pennsylvania, and Florida.

3. The Embassy's election night party attracted the widest media
coverage of any Embassy event in recent memory. Television, radio,
internet and print media chose the U.S. Embassy-sponsored event as
the center of local coverage of the vote, despite the technological
capability and actual television arrangements to cover the election
directly from the United States. Four of the five broadcast
television networks in Buenos Aires posted TV crews at the event, as
did all of the five round-the-clock cable news networks. Five of
these channels broadcasted live from the event to complement the
news feed they were getting from the United States, and featured
interviews with the CDA, other Embassy officials, and guests.
The combination of these television stations reaches an audience of
several million. Two popular weekly TV programs, roughly equivalent
to American shows like "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report,"
also sent their crews, taping more colorful interviews, stories and
spots that will air over the coming week, promising continuous
coverage. The Radio Continental network, which reaches 600 regional
stations, broadcast an interview with the CDA and others at the
event. (To confirm the wide reach, State Department colleagues in
Bogota reported hearing the CDA's interview.) Argentina's top
"dot-com" news sites, La Nacion.com and Infobae, also posted stories
and videos of the event that will be available to readers throughout
November.

4. Interview questions focused on the intricacies of the U.S.
electoral process, the meaning of the election results for U.S.
democracy, and the election result's meaning for Latin America and
Argentina. This allowed us to transmit an optimistic message on the
state of our democratic process and the future of our nation's
relationship with Argentina and the region to millions of
Argentines.

5. The many journalists who attended the Election Night event
showed no interest in the highly controversial Antonini Wilson
suitcase scandal, even after the verdict of the Franklin Duran trial
in Miami had dominated that morning's front pages. The CDA did not
receive a single question on the trial in the approximately 20
interviews that he did on November 4 and 5.

The Mornings Before and After: More Media Opportunities
------------------------------------------

6. All front pages in print media were consumed by the Obama
victory the morning of November 5, as intense media coverage
continued. Three national newspapers carried stories and photos on
the Embassy event as part of their election coverage. Three large
provincial newspapers carried information released by the Embassy on
"Vote Day," reporting over 3,000 US citizens had cast their absentee
ballots here.

7. Also on the morning of November 5, CDA gave four consecutive
radio interviews (three top radio stations and one youth-oriented
station, with two of them occurring in "drive-time" when radio

BUENOS AIR 00001544 002 OF 002


listening is at its peak) expressing U.S. pride for the massive show
of democratic faith and emphasizing continued U.S. interest in the
region. The Mission's Press Officer also gave a phone interview to
cable news channel C5N.

8. On Election Day itself, the largest circulation paper in the
country, Clarin, published an opinion piece by Ambassador Wayne
drawing a comparison between the U.S. people's passion for this
election and the first vote in Argentina after the 1976-83
dictatorship 25 years ago.

Comment
-------

9. Interest in the U.S. election has been at a fever pitch in
Argentina, despite this country's high rates of anti-American
sentiment. Our event exploited that interest and the local media's
avid coverage to convey an optimistic, positive message to millions
of Argentine households. It appears that a compelling U.S.
presidential election like the one that we just experienced is the
best public diplomacy program we have.

KELLY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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