The editor of a major newspaper has received death threats after President López Obrador once again criticized the Mexico City-based broadsheet.
Earlier this week, the newspaper Reforma published a story about the beefing up of security at López Obrador’s home in the southern Mexico City borough of Tlalpan.
The article included the president’s address, an editorial decision that López Obrador condemned at his Tuesday press conference even though he acknowledged that it was already in the public domain.
The president also slammed Reforma for publishing a photograph of a narco banner on which the Guanajuato-based Santa Rosa de Lima fuel theft cartel made a threat against his life. The narcomanta also listed the address where the president lives with his wife and youngest son.
“Other media outlets didn’t do that. Don’t you think that’s bad taste? Where are the ethics? . . . It’s a very peculiar conservatism,” López Obrador said.
The leftist leader has frequently hit back at Reforma when it has published stories that are critical of his government, describing it as prensa fifí (posh or elitist press) and a bearer of conservatism and neoliberalism.
Following his most recent public complaint about the newspaper, the editor of Reforma received a barrage of threats and harassment.
Article 19, a press freedom organization, said in a statement that Juan Pardinas “was a victim of death threats, harassment and attempted doxxing via social networks by unknown subjects.”
After the president’s press conference on Tuesday, the hashtag #NarcoReforma became a trending topic on Twitter, the organization said.
“. . . It was inferred that the dissemination of the president’s address was a sign of collusion between the newspaper and organized crime . . . Under this hashtag, the home address of the general editorial director of the newspaper was asked to be disseminated and setting fire to the premises of the newspaper with Pardinas inside was encouraged,” Article 19 said.
The organization demanded that López Obrador “abstain from generating any act that inhibits the exercise of freedom of expression,” adding “this includes maintaining a stigmatizing discourse” against the media.
In addition, it called on federal authorities to investigate the threats against Pardinas and Reforma and provide protection for the former.
According to press freedom groups, 124 media workers have been murdered since the year 2000, making Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Five have been killed since López Obrador took office on December 1.
Some journalists have charged that the language the president uses to attack sections of the media tacitly endorses violence. Reporters who challenge López Obrador at his morning press conferences are quickly criticized on social media and in some cases threatened.
Article 19 said that López Obrador’s “stigmatizing discourse . . . has a direct impact in terms of the . . . risk it can generate for the work of the press because [his remarks] permeate in the discourse of the rest of society and can even generate attacks.”
After receiving an unwelcome question about Mexico’s homicide rate from journalist Jorge Ramos earlier this month, López Obrador told reporters: “If you step out of line, you know what will happen. But it won’t be me, it’s the people.”
However, yesterday he adopted a more conciliatory approach, announcing that protection would be provided for Pardinas and declaring that “media outlets will be untouchable – I absolutely respect their right to manifest ideas, the right to dissent.”
López Obrador acknowledged that he has differences with the owners of Reforma – the newspaper accused the federal government of intimidation last month – but added: “We will always guarantee their right to freely manifest ideas. We are not authoritarian.”