What relationship did Televisa have with the PRI?
Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, México’s PRI president from 1952 to 1958, permitted a monopoly in TV, despite a constitutional prohibition, presumably because he saw its propagandistic potential. That set the tone for the Azcárraga family’s relationship with the PRI, a symbiosis that protected their respective hegemonies, in TV and in politics.
So, for example, after the 1985 earthquake, Televisa minimized the impact of the 1985 earthquake on México City. Then, in the 1988 election, Televisa backed the PRI’s Carlos Salinas, marginalized and derided leftwing candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, and helped rebuild Salinas’s credibility after the rigged voting. In the early ’90s, Televisa conducted propaganda campaigns in both México and the USA to push Mexico’s accession to NAFTA.
These last two examples illustrate the especially cozy relationship between the founder’s son, Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, aka “El Tigre,” and Salinas.
In 2007, Mexican lawmakers passed legislation that would undermine the revenue of Televisa. Did this happen because the new president, Felipe Calderón, came from the PAN party and not the PRI?
No. After the 2006 election, México saw a multi-party backlash to Televisa’s favoring of Calderón and its heavy-handed pushing of a so-called “Televisa Law,” legislation that promised the national transition from analog to digital would not harm Televisa’s dominance over television. That backlash in late 2007 produced a new electoral law with a clause that banned paid TV ads in favor of free airtime for political parties, a new order that the Federal Electoral Institute, the IFE, would oversee.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador has always maintained he was cheated of victory in 2006, and I think he’s right, but not so much due to voter fraud — something I think he overstates — as the massive wave of attack ads against him that spring.
Think of the “tank ride” ad that helped the Republicans sink the Dukakis campaign in 1988 or the Republican “swift-boating” of the Kerry campaign in 2004. But this onslaught against AMLO would be even worse, because in México attack ads are illegal, and the IFE waited ten weeks before stopping them. By that time AMLO’s 10-to-15-point polling lead had vanished. He lost by just 0.6 percent — and then the Federal Electoral Tribunal ruled that the attack ads against AMLO, while illegal, could not be said to have altered the result.
Rubbish! What ignorance of the impact that media can make!
Has Televisa ever been caught putting out fake news?
Not exactly. Historically, Televisa’s main deception has been its biased coverage of presidential and gubernatorial elections. Under owner Emilio Azcárraga Jean, who took control after the death of El Tigre in 1997, the bias became more selective. Televisa’s coverage of the watershed election of 2000 — the voting that finally unseated the PRI — showed only a slight bias. The coverage in 2006 and 2012 would be highly biased against AMLO. Then, in 2018, the coverage would be fair, probably because Televisa knew that by then AMLO had become too popular to stop.
Televisa probably came closest to fake news with its 2005 coverage of the capture of the French woman Florence Cassez, along with other alleged members of a kidnapping gang, and the freeing of their hostages. That capture, we later learned, had been re-staged for the cameras some days after the real operation, to make a newly established federal police force look good. Cassez’s nationality amped up the scandal. Carlos Loret de Mola, who later claimed he’d been duped, narrated the coverage for Televisa.