May 01, 2008

As I've said before, I don't watch a lot of TV.  Call me old fashioned, but I'm a newspaper and magazine junkie.  Oh yeah, I do love reading the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post ONLINE.  But I'd like to think that I know great TV when it pops up on the tube.  Jaime Bayly is the perfect example.

Let me be perfectly clear: Bayly represents the best in TV, in ANY language.  In another forum, I compared Bayly to Jon Stewart and David Letterman (full disclosure: I've watched Letterman ever since his start on NBC).  In fact, when I hear that Bayly is the highest-rated show on Mega TV, I'm not surprised: he is Mega TV's crown jewel.  He is a standard for excellence in TV--again, in any language.

For those of you who remember Univision's predecessor, SIN (Spanish International Network), you may recall seeing Jacobo Zabludovsky, the long-time, egghead and imperious news anchor of Televisa's nightly news program, "24 Horas."  One of the honorary titles assigned to the Queen or King of England is "Defender of the Faith."  I called Jacobo "Defender of the PRI (Mexico's long-time ruling party)."  Mexican alternative rock group Molotov even recorded a brilliant song about Zabludovsky: "Que No Te Haga Bobo Jacobo" (Don't let Jacobo make a fool out of you).  Bayly is no Jacobo; he is the antithesis of him.  Bayly is no government stooge.  He has a brain and uses it.

Listening to Bayly, you might think he's another Bill O'Reilly given his frequent tirades against Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and the FARC.  He is not.  He is definitely a moderate.  Even when he says things that could easily end up in a Republican political memo, his liberatarian and moderate perspective always rises to the top.  It's his wit that puts him in the same class as Stewart, Letterman and Colbert.

The most striking aspect of Bayly is his approach to his viewers: he doesn't patronize them; he respects their intelligence.  OK, you do have to understand the Spanish language to see Bayly's show but you will never be insulted.  And Bayly assumes that you're totally bilingual.  A hallmark of Bayly's program is his showing of news clips and videos, followed by his erudite analysis.  Whenever he shows clips from English-language news sources, Bayly does NOT provide any translation or Spanish-language sub-titles.  He assumes that you are intelligent and bilingual.  It's a great credit to Bayly and Mega TV.

The other key characteristic of Bayly's essence is his transparency, something that definitively sets him apart from the many corrupt Latin American governments and politicians that he often critiques.  In fact, his transparency gives him instant credibility.  I recall a few months ago when he offered his opinion on the two Democratic U.S. presidential candidates (he doesn't appear to be that interested in the Republican John McCain), Bayly said that he was having a hard time deciding between Hillary and Barack, adding: "I guess that's why I'm bisexual."  When was the last time you heard that kind of commentary on any Spanish-language TV, be it in the U.S. or Latin America?

Bayly used to be on Telemundo, and his folks once tried to get him on CNN en Espanol, but I guess he was "a bit too much" for CNN.  Now that Telemundo is dropping their late-night show with Alex Cambert, perhaps they ought to consider bringing back Bayly.  I think Univision should even consider giving Bayly a slot.  Look, Mega TV should be lauded for putting Bayly on the air, and for giving a black Cuban, Alexis Valdes, a show, but both of them deserve more exposure to the Hispanic public--heck, to anyone who likes excellent TV programming.  Let's meet the demands of Hispanics who thirst for quality programming.  Kudos to Mega TV for getting into more households via DirecTV.  My point is simple: let's let the light shine on high-quality Spanish-language TV programming.  Bayly rocks!

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