The Mexican journalist and the ‘alcoholic’ president

Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui was fired for publicly calling on President Felipe Calderón to clarify rumours that he suffered from alcoholism, writes Felipe Correa.

In February 2011, the well-known Mexican journalist, Carmen Aristegui, was dismissed for violating broadcasting company MVS Multivisión’s ethical code. It was alleged that Aristegui disseminated rumours as news. During her radio programme she reported that deputies from the opposition party unfurled a banner inside the Mexican Congress that said: “Would you let a drunk drive your car? Of course not! So why do you let one run the country?” Members of the governing party decided to leave the plenary hall in protest against the insult to the president.

After the report, Aristegui said there was no evidence to confirm whether President Felipe Calderón did have problems with alcohol. However, she emphasised that it was a delicate topic that needed formal clarification. “This deserves a serious, formal, and official response from the presidency of the republic,” she said. Aristegui added that in democracies around the world, the well-being of heads of states was in the public interest.

Two days after this event, MVS broadcast a formal message dismissing Aristegui on air. Her dismissal sparked a lively debate on social media networks and the media. Two weeks later, MVS revoked the dismissal, stating that Aristegui’s programme would continue and the case would  be subjected to an arbitration process to settle the dispute. After that Aristegui continued working for MVS and remains conducting the show nowadays.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Surely the crux of the matter is addressed by the answer to the question: Is he doing an acceptable job? Alcoholism is not necessarily a bar to that. Drunkenness is, and they are not the same. Many alcoholics are never drunk. William Pitt the Younger was an alcoholic. So was Churchill.

  2. I think Jack is right is highlighting the difference between alcoholism and drunkenness. But this is rather a matter of why Aristegui was dismissed. In today’s world leaders are expected to accept criticisms and deal with accusations even if they aren’t true. It sounds to me that Aristegui was punished for doing her job, which shouldn’t be the case. This antecedent could only encourage the silencing of reporters regarding sensitive issues. And this is not a good sign for democracy or free speech..

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