Mexico’s president called one of the nation’s largest newspapers a “filthy rag” after it linked his sister-in-law to a graft scandal.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attacked Reforma newspaper after it reported that several officials from his hometown, including his relative, were forced to step down in a corruption sweep. AMLO, as the president is known, says the allegations haven’t been proved.
On Friday, Reformareported that the mayor of Macuspana in Tabasco state resigned along with top officials after the local congress said 223 million pesos ($10.5 million) of funds had gone missing. Lopez Obrador’s spokesman said that the officials resigned for unrelated reasons.
Lopez Obrador is known for being quick to bash media outlets that he says are out to discredit him. In recent days he has stepped up criticism of several of the largest national and global publications, throwing barbs almost every day at his morning press conferences, amid unflattering stories about Mexico’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic and accusations of corruption within his government.
Reforma newspaper “has no scruples, it’s a dirty rag, without ethics, and professionalism,” Lopez Obrador said at his press conference on Friday. “If there’s no ill intentions, why dedicate eight columns to something that hasn’t been proved?”
At the same Friday press conference, Lopez Obrador said The New York Times and El Pais aren’t independent outlets.
Amnesty International hascalled on the president to tone down his criticism, saying it creates a “hostile environment” in a country with high levels of violence against members of the press.
Lopez Obrador argues his podium is the only way he can fight misinformation about him. In late August, he was left playing defense aftervideos surfaced of his brother taking packets of cash from a a state political operator in 2015, while his polls have dipped recently, even as approval has remained above 50%.
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Jesus Ramirez, the president’s spokesperson, said Friday that Tabasco Governor Adan Augusto Lopez told him there are no reports of siphoning funds in Macuspana. The president called on local officials to clarify events and said there’s no judicial complaint yet issued. The town’s government didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.
Mexico is the most dangerous country for reporters in the Western Hemisphere, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least three journalists have been murdered this year in direct relation to their work.
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