Mauro Viale (born in this city as Mauricio Goldfarb on August 28, 1947), a television journalist whose news shows placed the accent on the latter word as much as the former, died last weekend of coronavirus just three days after being vaccinated against the disease.
The jury is still out over whether Covid-19 was a decisive cause or accompanying circumstance of the thrombosis which ended his life.
Viale’s journalist career began around 1970 in the sporting world as a minor commentator for several years although he drew attention in 1975 when he came to blows on camera with a guest on the Almuerzos Deportivos show – the first of many such physical encounters over the years. The World Cups between 1978 and 1986 saw his career in football commentary blossom, establishing himself as a central figure in the mass audience programme Fútbol de Primera as from 1985.
But the arrival of the colourful Carlos Menem (who predeceased him by less than two months) into the presidency in 1989 and the “pizza and champagne” aura which began to surround politics drew him irresistibly into a wider world of journalism – initially in news programmes, although it was his breakfast show La Mañana between 1991 and 1996 followed by Mediodía con Mauro (1996-1998) which really made him a national figure. Here his sensationalist instincts led him to revel in such sideshows as the drug case pursuing the shady Guillermo Coppola then managing the late Diego Maradona, giving such otherwise unknown and irrelevant persons as the garrulous party girl Samantha Farjat their 15 minutes of fame day after day. Such touches as dramatising news stories and especially doing his level best to make antagonistic guests emulate his own pugilistic instincts against each other made it easy for many to rubbish his shows but this approach at least had the virtue of incorporating figures otherwise on the fringes of polite society. In 1997, Viale was at the forefront of flagging the murder of José Luis Cabezas, winning the trust of the news photographer’s sister Gladys more than anybody. He always prided himself on his good contacts and there was method in the madness of his chaotic news shows, with Viale invariably drawing some apt conclusion at the close.
The end of Menem in the last month of the century saw Viale’s career falling off from these peaks throughout this century, although always a constant face in different television channels – the new Alliance government saw him fired from ATC public television after three decades. Immediately estranged from that government, he also took his time adapting to the new regime of Kirchnerism and although increasingly sympathetic in his last years, he never entered the inner circle of ‘K’ media.
In 2002 he again came to blows with the meat baron Alberto Samid after accusing him of involvement in the 1994 terrorist attack on AMIA Jewish community centre, along with various other minor spats.
The sudden passing of this sensationalist journalist – all the more surprising in an obsessive keep-fit weight-watcher – caused consternation throughout the media world with posts on Twitter of condolence from President Alberto Fernández downwards.
He was laid to rest on Monday, buried at the La Tablada cemetery in Greater Buenos Aires.