Journalism prevails

No politician should use state broadcast times to hinder freedom of expression or thwart the freedom of the press

Journalism prevails
Unanimously, the seven magistrates of the Electoral Court ruled constitutionally inadmissible the use of electoral guidelines by the PAN – Photo: Iván Stephens/EL UNIVERSAL
English 29/03/2018 08:56 Mexico City Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 08:56

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Last November, the then national leader of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), Ricardo Anaya – now a presidential candidate – used state broadcast times in radio and television to defend his public image and dismiss the news article of EL UNIVERSAL which exposed how this native of Querétaro had made part of his current fortune. That is, he used for himself a resource that is only authorized to be used for matters related to the political party he is a member of.

Yet the most serious aspect of the case was the message sent to all news outlets daring in the future to question the wealth of a politician: any journalistic investigation will be replied to using state broadcast times, to the detriment of the one spreading information which makes the politician in question uncomfortable. With the approval of the National Electoral Institute (INE).

The claim made by this newspaper and the Radio and Television Chamber (CIRT) before the electoral authorities focused on the hindering effect that advertisements such as the one of Ricardo Anaya have against freedom of expression.

At the beginning of the proceeding and despite the evidence, the INE refused to remove the advertisement. Yesterday, once more, the Electoral Court had to correct the INE and then ruled in favor of this newspaper.

Before Anaya broadcast his advertisement, he claimed before a judge that EL UNIVERSAL had, allegedly, denied him his right of rebuttal and turned a journalistic matter into a legal lawsuit against two individuals. Nothing wrong with that as this was within his rights.

The matter was that by using state broadcast times allotted to the PAN, he discredited a company which doesn't have state privileges to broadcast its opinion before the same audience.

Moreover, the message was misleading. On the one hand, the advertisement took statements made by journalists Denise Maerker and Ciro Gómez Leyva out of context to create the perception that both were speaking in favor of Anaya. On the other, Anaya stated that the claims of the news article “were not true,” despite the judge which resolved on the right of rebuttal case never denied the veracity of the news article on the properties of the PAN member.

The resolution of the Electoral Court is important not because the argument of EL UNIVERSAL prevailed but because the ruling protects, from now on, the work of journalists from the powerful people who consider information, analysis, and criticism an “attack.”

Henceforth, no politician should use state broadcast times to hinder the right we all have to freedom of expression nor thwart the freedom of the press.