By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) launched his media wall of shame on Wednesday, June 30, and, not surprisingly, the list of alleged “fake news” purveyors included most of his favorite punching bags: Reforma, El Universal and El Financiero. all media ranked among the most credible in the country.
The parade of “despicable” media reports for the previous week — presented by Ana Elizabeth García Vilchis, a former web content director for the leftist, pro-AMLO newspaper La Jornada who has now been endowed by López Obrador with the illustrious title of “director of networks of the general coordination of social communication and spokesperson for the presidency” — began with a disparaging of El Universal, Reforma and Televisa.
According to the president’s so-called “Who’s Who of Media Lies of the Week,” the aforementioned news media covered a series of reports on alleged government spying on journalists, a story that has since gained international attention.
According to numerous media professionals in Mexico and both national and international human rights organizations, the administration has consistently spied on opposition journalists as a means of intimidation.
As for evidence that the media reports were false, García Vilchis pointed out that the government has flatly denied any spying on journalists.
Moving right along on AMLO’s “fake news” report of the week — which the president said would now be presented every Wednesday during his daily press conferences — the next “false” news story was posted by Univision on June 21.
According to the Univision report, the Mexican government, represented by Foregin Relations Secreary Marcelo Ebrard, signed a contract for 35 million CanSino covid-19 vaccines with a nonexistent company.
The Univision report offered verified details of the contract, including the name of the nonexistent company, Latam Pharma Innovation Ventures, allegedly based out of Switzerland but not incorporated as a firm according to that country’s corporate registry, and presided over by a Mexican lawyer currently sanctioned for a financial scheme that surfaced during the Panama Papers scandal.
And what was AMLO’s evidence that the well-documented Univision story was false?
You guested it: The government flatly denied.
The third story that garnered AMLO’s “fake news” allegation was published by the internationally respected Spanish newspaper El País, and involved a report that Mexico’s long-overdue-for-an-overhaul nuclear energy plant Laguna Verde (in operation since 1990) was inundated with nuclear waste and used uranium.
The article was backed by a report on the nuclear plant’s radioactive waste management plan for 2017 through 2023 — published by the state-run Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) — and pointed out that no action had been designated to effectively reduce the overflowing waste.
AMLO’s response to the El País story: Lies, lies and more lies! (Although he could not manage to justify the fact that the article was based on a CFE report).
The fourth news story that merited AMLO’s disapproval was one covered first by Televisa and later picked up by El Universal, which, in fact, consisted of a video showing the president nonchalantly passing in front of a notorious cartel hitman (allegedly reinforcing the much-believed theory that López Obrador is in cahoots with organized crime leaders).
García Vilchis said that the video was “taken out of context” and that both prior to and after AMLO’s encounter with the alleged criminal, he had met with journalists and local residents.
And so, she said, discerning viewers should not believe their eyes.
García Vilchis’ media tribute of shame concluded with a verbal assault on El Financiero columnist Raymundo Riva Palacios, who she conferred with the title of “Pinocchio of the Week.”
Riva Palacios allegedly issued a series of tweets on Tuesday, June 29, claiming that AMLO’s carefully honed National Guardsmen had invaded and taken over part of the University of the Americas campus in Cholula, Puebla.
To counter those allegations, García noted that the National Guard had denied that the alleged incident took place.
Later reports by El Financiero stated that it was not the National Guard, but state police, who had stormed the campus (a gestapo by any other name…).
López Obrador then reclaimed his bully pulpit and began deriding the media in general, pausing only to praise those few “journalists” in his squad of followers who attend his daily rants (most of whom never held a job with any media group before AMLO came to power and who replicate his spiels verbatim on obscure internet blogs) and to once again berate the Mexican middle class, again comparing its members to Nazis and fascists.
He also took a swing at the New York Times for, according to him, not giving coverage to the collapse of the multifamily condominium building in Surfside, Florida. (Does he even bother to read real news media?)
But to avoid seeming prejudicial, AMLO pointed out that “no one should feel offended” by his crucifixion of the media, “since the general interest is always above personal interest.”
AMLO concluded his two-hour assault on the nation’s media by saying that “the country’s journalism is currently experiencing its worst period in history,” something most Mexican reporters would agree with, given the fact that López Obrador has turned the country’s professional journalists into Public Enemy Number One.