By RICARDO CASTILLO
Whether you are for or against Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), there’s no doubt that he’s driving the press – and all allegedly corrupt columnists at the service of “the conservatives” – berserk, to put it mildly.
His daily press conference is definitely a milestone in hoarding attention, to the point that even his sternest critics do nothing but talk about what AMLO said.
For instance, on Thursday, Oct. 31, the press interpreted him as calling them all “dogs” because he referred to the coup that toppled legally elected President Francisco I. Madero as “backed by the press.” AMLO also said that during his one year tenure between 1912 and 1913, Madero lifted censorship and the then-strict government control of the only media available at the time, print. AMLO recalled that this prompted his brother, Gustavo Madero, on seeing the attacks the president was undergoing in the press, to say: “These dogs bit the hand that took their muzzle off.”
Most reporters took it personally to the point that, on Friday, Nov. 1, some apologized to AMLO for disrespecting the “presidential investiture.”
The truth is that AMLO only narrated an episode in ancient Mexican history, but did not offend anyone directly. But the stone was cast.
Then, on that same Friday, AMLO said that there had been a vicious attack on him in the social media because he’d offended reporters. He responded by saying that he was ordering a study of social media behavior in these days claiming that “conservatives have gone berserk, are desperate. They have no arguments and they insult, use bots, robots, something that is immoral.”
AMLO also ignited the media over the weekend because on Saturday, Nov. 2, he tweeted about a potential coup d’état, which was the subject of an article on Monday in Pulse News Mexico.
On Monday, Nov. 3, AMLO presented a report by the head of the Information and Technological Bonding of the Security and Citizen Protection Secretariat, Alejandro Mendoza Álvarez, claiming that well-known personalities such as former Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño, who served during the Enrique Peña Nieto administration, are running bot farms.
But Nuño was not alone in allegedly sending out fake news bots from the account called #tumbaburross (donkey tumbler – an expression used for books as donkeys are ignorant), associated with a person named Jeff Scott Szesko. Also allegedly sending out such bots are current deputy and head of the National Action Party (PAN) Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, as well as the son of former president Felipe Calderón.
Nuño did not confirm or deny being behind the bots, viciously attacking the president, but Romero Hicks and Felipe Calderón Zavala vehemently denied participation in the #tumbaburros bot farm.
In fact, both the former president as well as his wife, Margarita Zavala, demanded AMLO retract his statements accusing their son of participating. But AMLO, who is a sworn enemy of both and has often called Calderón “a thief” who stole the 2006 presidential election from him (he also called Calderón “the spurious president”) responded: “those who do not want to see ghost apparitions had better not go out in the dark of night.”
As for Nuño, AMLO said: “Imagine if this is true. It’s only a rumor that Nuño is involved in this. He was Public Education secretary. It would prove, if it is true, that we were in the hands of immoral persons, in the mud. Have this cleared because it helps purify public life.”
The report said that 73.83 reactions to the #tumbaburros page were real persons, while 26.14 were automated responses, namely bots.
Also, it said that 70 percent of the messages on Twitter between Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 were attacks on the press – particularly the reporters who cover the daily press conference – with the hashtags #PrensaProstituida (prostituted press), #PrensaSicaria (hitmen press) and #PrensaCorrupta (corrupt press.)
AMLO warned those who interact in social media: “Remember (Benito) Juárez, who used to say that the triumph of the (conservatives) reaction was morally impossible. Be tranquil, we’re clearing up everything, responding. We will not be hushes, acting freely and practicing the right to respond.”