May 16, 2022 2:52 pm

Alberto’s spokesperson. The complex task of standing up for a government of fluctuations

Gabriela Cerruti came to her position as “spokesperson” for the Government a few days after the versions of her arrival were denied by the Government itself. A trademark in an alliance marked by internal differences and contradictions. The first thing they told him, when his arrival was confirmed, was a direct suggestion that was almost impossible to carry out: “Get Alberto’s cell phone”.

This week marks three months of Cerruti in her role as presidential spokesperson, a position of high media exposure that she assumes with “joy”, and that brings her both praise and criticism from locals and strangers. Cerruti herself acknowledges that the President did not achieve that first objective with the cell phone, although she does boast of having managed to be the “first call”, the first to which the President and the ministers turn in the event of a communication crisis.

The weekly press conferences that the former journalist and deputy implemented in the Casa Rosada largely replaced the interviews and dialogues that the President used to have, without defined schedules or agendas, with different media and journalists. Not everyone sees them with good eyes in the Front. They believe that this “open agenda” policy to respond can become a “shot in the foot”. “We are not at a time to add that,” say those who still look at her with some mistrust.

Gabriela Cerruti, spokesperson for the PresidencyPresidency

To this is added that in general he avoids giving political definitions or novel explanations, so in press conferences he looks more like a pediment with set phrases than a source of useful answers. “Now Alberto speaks less, and that’s good”, recognizes a close friend of the President who, however, does not have much affection for him.

Jealous in the care of its site and with the intention of monopolizing the official discourse, Cerruti prohibited the off-the-record conversations of those who, in the Media Secretariat, remained under the management of Juan Pablo Biondi, former Secretary of Communication, spokesman for the President in addition to his personal friend.

In the newspaper, Cerruti relies on her group of collaborators. Good news appears on your computer screen in green, bad news in red, and permanent context information on a white background. The friction, silent but concrete, is with the Cabinet Headquarters headed by Juan Manzur and the Media Secretary, Valeria Zapesochny. “I’m here once a week, I speak,” he replied weeks ago, when a journalist complained about the lack of interviews and Manzur’s contact with the press. She, meanwhile, assures that her contact with the President is at least twenty times a day, and that this also includes “saying no in a respectful way.”

In the case of Fernández, from his office on the ground floor of Balcarce 50 they assure that “She believes that Alberto is, above all, the President, and she does not accept that people speak ill of him in her presence”. But nevertheless, The President does not have the friendly relationship with her that he still maintains with Biondi.

Also for the ministers, they say close to the spokeswoman, “it is a relief that they have information and support.” However, in practice, most of them are careful of their autonomy and remain in charge of talking about what they want, consult or are interested in. Cerruti never managed to establish the lock that, for example, Cristina Kirchner exercised in her last term. His daily dealings with journalists allow him to have a lane of official information, but he also sometimes uses an acid tone in individual exchanges.

A post by Gabriela Cerruti on Instagram
A post by Gabriela Cerruti on Instagraminstagram

His level of exposure and the unruly character of the President have played several tricks on Cerruti, such as when he rejected at a press conference that a year-end bonus for retirees is being considered, and hours later he acknowledged that the increase would end up being granted . “I come to deny myself”he said when he met with reporters. Around those dates he also had to make other clarifications regarding the president’s statements, which earned him the nickname, in the Government, not without a certain sarcasm from the “ministry of clarification”.

At the time of announcing his appointment, Fernández maintained that the “spokesperson” was: “A new figure that I have taken from some European democracies.” For Mario Riorda, expert in communication and director of the Master’s program at Universidad Austral, “It is a novelty that they have installed a spokesperson, closer to a European model”. After which he added that, from his point of view, “the ability to generate an agenda is much more restricted and in any case it is a reactive spokesperson, where it does not fulfill an anticipatory function but almost always a response format ex post, that is to say once the fact has happened”. so then “What the spokesperson does is try to generate a frame, or a desired meaning, but, I insist, always after the fact has happened, therefore with very little agenda capacity”. Many remember the ability to fix the issues of the day that Carlos Corach held in the Menem movement.

For Riorda, “today, in general, the international trend is what is called the orchestration of spokespersons or multiplicity of spokespersons. This means that, in general, the spokesperson is rarely centered on one person, but because of the diversity of issues and the multiplicity of professionals and media, it generally generates such powerful attrition that this is often not recommended and is not styled. What should be requested are coherent actions between the people or figures that make up a government, rather than one person in particular who is the synthesis of all the voices.”

For the academic and holder of Comunicatio, Orlando D ‘Adamo, “the idea of ​​a spokesperson is always to avoid overexposing someone”, so the ideal is for them to be people who dominate communication in public. After which he noted: “I think that in that sense the spokeswoman has training as a journalist and has been in politics for many years and from that point of view she clearly has a background to be able to do it”. And he referred to the idea of ​​a spokesperson “as a protective screen, in the sense that an error by a spokesperson, although serious, will always be less serious than that of the president, for example.” Precisely one of the reasons that seems to have placed Cerruti in Balcarce 50.

The communication expert Adriana Amado explains that “we must consider what the function of the spokesperson is. Generally, in the countries where this function is consolidated, it is about a highly competent person who interfaces with the press. Cerruti’s function has more to do with his performance at conferences than with someone who has a lot of knowledge of what it happens. In fact, there are not a few times that what she says is contrasted with the contradiction in the following hours, “he said. ”The key is in the credibility of the function: a spokesperson fulfills his function when neither the journalist nor the citizens feel that they miss the voice of that official that the spokesperson represents”. After which he added that: “There is a lot to learn about the dynamics and the credibility that the function requires.”

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