Using Billions in Government Cash, Mexico Controls News MediaSo Mexico doesn’t have a lot of outright press censorship. There is much bribery to reward cooperation, some dirty tricks censorship such as hacking of independent-minded websites, and the occasional exemplary murder of nosey reporters.
By AZAM AHMED DEC. 25, 2017
MEXICO CITY — Running a newspaper, radio station or television outlet in Mexico usually means relying on a single, powerful client that spends exorbitant sums on advertising with a simple warning: “I do not pay you to criticize me.”
That client is the government of Mexico.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year in government money on advertising, creating what many Mexican media owners, executives and journalists call a presidential branding juggernaut capable of suppressing investigative articles, directing front pages and intimidating newsrooms that challenge it.
Despite vowing to regulate government publicity, Mr. Peña Nieto has spent more money on media advertising than any other president in Mexico’s history — nearly $2 billion in the past five years, according to government data compiled by Fundar, a transparency group. It found that his administration spent more than twice the generous media budget Mexican lawmakers allotted it for 2016 alone.
One obvious question that this article would seemingly raise in the minds of readers, but which goes unmentioned in the text, is why in the world would the New York Times want to risk importing this kind of culture of corruption by getting in bed financially with Mexico’s most skilled player at the Mexican Way, billionaire Carlos Slim?
In the eight years that the NYT has been financially yoked with Slim, there has been, for instance, no coverage in the NYT of his heirs, the Slim Gemayel dynasty, having close family ties to fascism through their mother’s infamous Lebanese Phalangist warlord clan, the Gemayels.
Another question would be why don’t there seem to be well-known Mexican on-line publications safely ensconced north of the border in San Diego or San Antonio? I used to follow a bilingual lefty magazine published in the U.S. called El Andar, but it’s out of business.
My general impression is that Mexican elites long preferred the carrot to the stick when it comes to corrupting Mexican intellectuals. For example, back in the 1970s, Mexican college professors were paid about as well in cash as American college professors, so they tended to have numerous servants. Heavyweight Mexican writers tended to be appointed ambassadors and live the really good life abroad at embassies.
A further curious aspect of Mexican public life is how little it generates in the way of legitimate political refugees. Can anybody name a famous Mexican who is living in the U.S. in exile because he tells too much truth about Mexico?