lavar la cara con

English translation: take the moral high ground over

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Spanish term or phrase:lavarse la cara con
English translation:take the moral high ground over
Entered by: Charles Davis

23:24 Jul 12, 2015
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Media / Multimedia / Current Events
Spanish term or phrase: lavar la cara con
I think this phrase is idiomatic, but even after internet & paper resource investigation, I haven't been able to get a handle on it. Any help much appreciated.
This phrase is in an editorial about Donald Trump in a Mexican weekly magazine.
The sentence in which the phrase occurs is: "Por ahora, las grandes cadenas mediáticas de habla hispana el antipático y sobrado Donald Trump."
Could it maybe translate as "wash their hands of", or something like that?
Thanks,
Tom
TomWalker
United States
Local time: 08:38
have taken the moral high ground over
Explanation:
It's actually "lavarse la cara con". I agree it's hard to get a handle on this, but I think the idea of the expression is using something to make you look good; to say that the media have "washed their faces with" Trump amounts to saying that their treatment of his odious rants has been such as to make themselves look better, in the sense of morally superior, with the implication of having done so opportunistically and perhaps not altogether honestly. So I suspect what it amounts to is what you might call "taking the moral high ground".

Here are a couple of Mexican uses of the expression that seem to me to point in this direction:

"Desafortunadamente en este difícil momento no han faltado los políticos oportunistas pretendiendo lavarse la cara con un simple “deslinde” o colgarse de la tragedia para tratar de desestabilizar al gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto."
http://www.colloqui.org/colloqui/2014/11/9/renunciara-pea-ni...

Peña Nieto's in difficulties, so some have tried to whitewash their own image by detaching themselves from him.

"El Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM) tiene suficiente dinero para realizar campañas, pese a la "bocanada de multas" que representan una "campaña brutal" contra ese instituto político, sostuvo su vocero nacional, Arturo Escobar y Vega. El Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE) impuso una nueva multa al PVEM por 322.4 millones de pesos, por recibir aportaciones prohibidas para sus campañas de difusión. [...] Arturo Escobar acusó a algunos consejeros electorales de querer "lavarse la cara" con el PVEM."
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/05/15/politica/014n4pol

He's accusing them of victimising the PVEM to make themselves look good.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 32 mins (2015-07-12 23:56:55 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

According to my reading, the more literal meaning would something like "have used Trump to improve their own image".
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 16:38
Grading comment
Charles, Thanks for your well-reasoned answer, with the detailed explanation, & a couple of links to boot. Very helpful.
Thanks to all - Tom
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +5have taken the moral high ground over
Charles Davis
4to make/restore sb's good name at the expense of sb else
Lina Nicolova
3Spiffed themselves up with
Jesstee
1 -1have made them seem politically correct
Barbara Cochran, MFA


Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


27 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +5
have taken the moral high ground over


Explanation:
It's actually "lavarse la cara con". I agree it's hard to get a handle on this, but I think the idea of the expression is using something to make you look good; to say that the media have "washed their faces with" Trump amounts to saying that their treatment of his odious rants has been such as to make themselves look better, in the sense of morally superior, with the implication of having done so opportunistically and perhaps not altogether honestly. So I suspect what it amounts to is what you might call "taking the moral high ground".

Here are a couple of Mexican uses of the expression that seem to me to point in this direction:

"Desafortunadamente en este difícil momento no han faltado los políticos oportunistas pretendiendo lavarse la cara con un simple “deslinde” o colgarse de la tragedia para tratar de desestabilizar al gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto."
http://www.colloqui.org/colloqui/2014/11/9/renunciara-pea-ni...

Peña Nieto's in difficulties, so some have tried to whitewash their own image by detaching themselves from him.

"El Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM) tiene suficiente dinero para realizar campañas, pese a la "bocanada de multas" que representan una "campaña brutal" contra ese instituto político, sostuvo su vocero nacional, Arturo Escobar y Vega. El Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE) impuso una nueva multa al PVEM por 322.4 millones de pesos, por recibir aportaciones prohibidas para sus campañas de difusión. [...] Arturo Escobar acusó a algunos consejeros electorales de querer "lavarse la cara" con el PVEM."
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/05/15/politica/014n4pol

He's accusing them of victimising the PVEM to make themselves look good.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 32 mins (2015-07-12 23:56:55 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

According to my reading, the more literal meaning would something like "have used Trump to improve their own image".

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 16:38
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 28
Grading comment
Charles, Thanks for your well-reasoned answer, with the detailed explanation, & a couple of links to boot. Very helpful.
Thanks to all - Tom

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Frank Gerace
1 hr
  -> Many thanks, Frank :)

agree  David Hollywood: or maybe "put things straight/right the shp" (from their point of view)
1 hr
  -> Many thanks, David :) Could be

agree  Danik 2014
2 hrs
  -> Many thanks, Danik :)

agree  lorenab23: Great references as always :-)
2 hrs
  -> Many thanks, Lorena! Generous as always :-)

agree  Fiona Gilbert Riley: Yes; I was thinking "cleaned up their image", but much prefer yours.
6 hrs
  -> Thanks very much, Noni :)
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 1/5Answerer confidence 1/5 peer agreement (net): -1
have made them seem politically correct


Explanation:
Like Charles says, the media may not be acting that honestly, which is often, if not more often than not, implied by the concept of being "politically correct".

The highly censored "liberal" American media certainly promotes "political correctness", too, when it comes to Trump and other right-wingers, whom they will say anything about, whether it is true or not, in an attempt to derail any candidate who is not leftist in persuasion.

The American media does not consider right-wingers to be "politucally correct" at all

Barbara Cochran, MFA
United States
Local time: 10:38
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Frank Gerace: besides this is not the place for your rant
22 mins
  -> "Rant"? I have nothing to rant about. Simply making objective comments, based on hours and hours of reading and listening to political analysis.
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
Spiffed themselves up with


Explanation:
Es el caso, por ejemplo, de la
[...] catenaria rígida con la que ya se han familiarizado los clientes de Metro gracias al lavado de cara al que se ha sometido a la [...] línea 6 durante el verano de este mismo año. metromadrid.es
For example,
[...] the rigid overhead power lines with which Metro's clients are now familiar, thanks to the spiffing up of Line 6 over the summer. metromadrid.es


Maybe?


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Note added at 3 hrs (2015-07-13 03:00:57 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Sorry I meant
"Spiffed there selves up with"
Might sound better huh? I have street slang confused with proper grammar. Not sure wich one would be correct to use here.

Jesstee
United States
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
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1 day 13 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
to make/restore sb's good name at the expense of sb else


Explanation:
Correcting my previous answer, I would suggest the following translation of the Spanish phrase occurring in the sentence "las grandes cadenas mediáticas de habla hispana se han lavado la cara con el antipático y sobrado Donald Trump" - the major Spanish-language television networks have restored their good names at the expense of the unpleasant and well-off Donald Trump.

Lina Nicolova
Bulgaria
Local time: 17:38
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in BulgarianBulgarian
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