President López Obrador’s frequent verbal attacks on the press could be a factor in a marked decline in trust in the news among Mexicans, according to a U.K.-based research center and think tank.
In its 2023 Digital News Report, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said that trust in the news has declined to 36% in Mexico from 50% in 2019, the president’s first full year in office. Just over 2,000 Mexicans were surveyed for the study.
The Reuters Institute (RI) said that López Obrador’s “repeated attacks against news companies may have impacted the steady decline in trust in the news over the last few years.”
The president’s “daily verbal attacks” on the media have increased in the past year “as he has continued to use his morning addresses, known as the mañaneras, to pursue his agenda,” RI said.
“Notable journalists including Carmen Aristegui, a host on CNN en español, war correspondent and radio host Carlos Loret de Mola, and commentator Victor Trujillo [better known as the clown Brozo] have all been targeted by the president, as have numerous domestic and international outlets.”
López Obrador asserted Tuesday that “it’s more than proven” that the majority of media outlets “manipulate” information and “are at the service of the oligarchy,” or Mexico’s powerful elite.
“There might be some exceptions, but … the majority of media outlets have [a preferred] party and defend interests. That’s why they don’t inform but manipulate. They have a political attitude and it’s a reactionary political attitude,” he told reporters.
A government spokesperson presents a fake news exposé segment at López Obrador’s Wednesday mañaneras during which she routinely criticizes individual journalists and media organizations for their allegedly false or biased coverage.
RI acknowledged that 180 Mexican journalists signed a letter late last year demanding an end to the government harassment. It also said that three journalists were murdered in Mexico in the first three months of the year.
“Human rights organisation Article 19 says that the Mexican government has developed a ‘strategy of disinformation’ while claiming to have created greater transparency and accountability,” RI said.
“This has happened, it says, while legal access to public sources of information has, in effect, been curtailed. [Article 19] also claims that about a quarter (26.5%) of the public information provided by government authorities was false.”
Published on Wednesday, the Reuters Institute’s report also noted that “TV and print have become gradually less important over time for our online sample, with social media widely used across age groups.”
“Mexicans are heavy users of social media, with YouTube and TikTok growing fastest for news,” it added.
Among 15 news outlets including the generic “local newspaper,” CNN was found to be the most trustworthy in Mexico, with 68% of respondents saying they trusted it.
El Universal, Milenio and Imagen ranked equal second with a trust level of 62%. Three in 10 respondents indicated that they didn’t trust Noticieros Televisa, making that outlet the least trustworthy. An additional 21% said they neither trusted nor mistrusted the news division of the broadcasting behemoth Televisa.
Mexico News Daily