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From PP spokesman to hatemonger

Miguel Ángel Rodríguez makes a living from television series he once described as "for idiots"

Two years ago, controversial political commentator Miguel Ángel Rodríguez wrote an entry in his blog on the website he edits in which he complained about the sad state of Spanish television, blaming leftists for the current "tele-trash" programming.

"The left likes the exaltation of vulgarity. They are happy doing cheap television series filled with profane situations, emotional gays and funny sluts. They tell silly jokes so that only idiots can laugh, especially whenever there is a dirty word in the middle. They seek amusing foul-mouthed presenters and predictably rude writers. It is the type of society they want- a vulgar society."

Now, Rodríguez, once government spokesman for former Prime Minister José María Aznar, went on trial this past week for the same type of lurid comments he previously complained about on programs he now frequently appears on as a panelist. A few years back, he called a Madrid anesthesiologist "a Nazi" on three televised occasions.

"Bibiana Aído is vulgar. It isn't surprising she talks about tit operations"

He is on trial for defamation for calling a doctor "a Nazi"

The physician, Luis Montes, was acquitted in 2008 of all charges that he had illegally sedated patients at the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganés, outside Madrid. Now Montes is suing Rodriguez and Telecinco for 120,000 eurosover the slur. Prosecutors last year recommended that Rodríguez also be sentenced to two years for defamation.

During court testimony on Tuesday, Rodríguez admitted to calling Montes a Nazi during panel debates on TVE's 59 Segundos and again on Telecinco's La Noria, but he said it was only to "heat up" the discussions because that is "the way these programs operate."

Fellow panelists had asked Rodríguez to take back the remarks at the time but he refused. "The viewer knows what type of program they are watching," he told Judge Jacobo Vigil Levi. "We are not in the Miguel de Unamuno auditorium in Salamanca. These types of programs are crazy; it is no holds barred."

Judge Vigil asked him if he was familiar with Nazism. "No, he responded. "I don't use that phrase as an insult, but only to refer to a movement."

When Montes' lawyer asked him if he knew about the anesthesiologist's acquittal, Rodríguez said: "Maybe we should prepare ourselves better before we go to the TVE programs. But that's not the way it is. I have five programs to go to each week."

Rodríguez has always been a vociferous official both off and on the political field. Once when he served as spokesman to Aznar, he gave a good dressing down to a minister's press official in front of a group of foreign correspondents for giving EL PAÍS a copy of a draft of a new law. "You know that I don't like you giving things to EL PAÍS," he snapped.

Later, years after leaving government, he severely insulted then-Equality Minister Bibiana Aído for saying that minors should also be given the opportunity to have breast implants without their parents' consent. "It isn't a coincidence that Bibiana Aído talks about tit operations. First, she is a vulgar person and secondly she needs other vulgar people to understand her," he said.

In his career, Rodríguez has jumped from newspapers to politics to advertising before making the move to late-night hatemongering. The 47-year-old Valladolid native began his journalism career at the El Norte de Castilla daily after graduating with a degree in Hispanic philology. He later worked as the Castilla y León correspondent for Barcelona daily La Vanguardia and contributed commentary to the Catholic-run Cope radio network. Afterwards he joined the state TVE television network as a writer and worked as Radio Nacional's correspondent in his hometown.

In the 1980s, he met Aznar and the two struck up a long-lasting friendship. Aznar named him PP spokesman for the Castilla y León regional government in 1987, a position he held for two years before becoming the director of the Popular Party's press office. He was in charge of media relations and boosting the image of the PP.

When Aznar again promoted him to communications advisor to the party president's office in 1995, Rodríguez officially joined the party's national executive committee.

In 1996, with the PP winning a general election for the first time, Rodríguez was elected as deputy in the Madrid regional assembly but didn't serve long because Aznar brought him to Moncloa as secretary of state for communications. His appointment was top of the agenda during Aznar's first Cabinet meeting after the elections.

At the same time he was made a member of the board of the Spanish energy giant Repsol. After acting as government spokesman for two years, during which time he had bitter encounters with the media, he resigned citing personal reasons. He was replaced by Josep Piqué, who as industry minister also took on the role of government spokesman, and by Antonio Martín Marín, as secretary of state for communications.

His political connections served him well. In 1998, he set up the advertising company Carat-España which, according to several lawmakers, received millions of dollars in government contracts in Madrid and Galicia. According to SER, Rodríguez, who served as president of Carat until 2006, obtained a 23-million euros contract from the Metro de Madrid covering just one year.

He continues to participate on late-night programs, produces his own show for the right-wing Popular TV and edits the website.