The Washington Post has called on the United States government to condemn physical and verbal attacks on Mexican journalists.
“But instead of addressing these dangers, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador devoted much of his regular news conference on Friday to attacking one of the country’s most prominent media figures, Carlos Loret de Mola,” the editorial said.
At his regular news conference, López Obrador claimed that the radio, television and print journalist – a contributor to the Post’s Spanish language opinion section – has a gross income of 35.2 million pesos (US $1.7 million) a year, which he said was 15 times more than his salary.
“… We have to see if he pays taxes, I’m going to ask for all this in a report,” the president said during remarks that triggered a large virtual protest on Friday night.
“Do you think … [his salary is so high] because he’s a high-flying, very intelligent journalist? A good writer? No, it’s because he’s a bully,” he said.
The Post charged that López Obrador had made “a brazen attempt to discredit and intimidate an independent voice” by presenting a slide purporting to show Loret de Mola’s 2021 income.
Still, “the public sharing of a citizen’s confidential financial information is an unprecedented abuse of power,” the Post said.
“… Mr. López Obrador renewed the attacks Monday, calling those who publish critical articles ‘thugs, mercenaries [and] sellouts.’ The episode marks a new low in his fraught relationship with the media,” the newspaper contended.
“… His most recent tirade only emboldens those who attack journalists amid a surge of violence against reporters and whistleblowers — most of whom are not as well known as Mr. Loret de Mola.”
The editorial noted that the Mexican government has expanded its press protection program, but added that “rights groups and journalists say criminals can still commit acts of violence with impunity.”
“The escalating violence is a stain on Mexico’s democratic record,” the Post said before noting that the Biden administration committed last year to “protecting and promoting free, independent, and diverse media around the world.”
The U.S. government “should condemn the attacks on Mexican journalists and call for our democratic allies to support a free press,” it said.
“If they don’t, rogue regimes and bad actors will continue to act as though they have a free hand in their escalating efforts to silence independent voices.”
López Obrador responded to the editorial at his Wednesday morning news conference.
“I was reading that The Washington Post is asking President Biden to call me out for the harassment of journalists. What? Doesn’t The Washington Post know how the mafia of power works in Mexico?” he said.
“… Don’t they know that corruption reigned [when previous governments were in power], that a group [of people] felt they were the owners of Mexico, that inequality, poverty [and] the violence that was unleashed in the country were caused by corruption? Doesn’t The Washington Post know that?” he asked.
During his two-hour presser, López Obrador made a broader attack on several Mexican and foreign newspapers and news outlets, accusing them of bias toward his opponents or demonizing them for not supporting him.
“We’ll have to see who the owners of The New York Times, The Washington Post [and] The Financial Times are,” he said at one point, before declaring later that journalist Carmen Aristegui, who has a news website, and news magazine Proceso “never contributed to the change” he is bringing to Mexico.
Mexico News Daily