Mexican presidential candidate paid millions of dollars to journalists for "mentions" in the media

How much does a journalist in Mexico cost? According to an article in the Mexican newspaper Reforma, the answer could be hundreds of thousands of dollars if it's for Joaquín López Dóriga, news host for Televisa, the main Mexican broadcaster.

The Reforma article, published Friday, May 11, made public receipts showing that current presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto paid roughly $2.4 million for journalistic "mentions" during his tenure as governor of the state of Mexico from 2005 to 2011, reported Proceso. Of this amount, journalist Joaquín López Dóriga received about $680,000 between January 2006 and July 2007. The payments do not include ad space purchased on Televisa, said Reforma.

The receipts the newspaper obtained via an information request show other payments made by Peña Nieto, according to the site Sin Embargo. Those total more than $590,000 for interviews and broadcasts about his administration paid to two radio stations.

Radio journalist Oscar Mario Beteta, of the station Radio Fórmula, said he never received a dollar for the comments López Dóriga made as a guest on the news program "Los Tiempos de la Radio." “I don't know how much he charged for the comments,” Beteta said on his show Friday, May 11.

In his own defense, the presidential candidate, from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in Spanish), said the payments were not made to receive favorable journalistic coverage but rather were for sponsorships that aired before the journalists' comments, Reforma explained.

“Chayote” is the colloquial term in Mexico to refer to government payoffs to the press to censor, highlight, or manipulate information. The practice was commonplace during the 71 straight years that the PRI ruled in México, but was mostly eradicated after the PRI lost control of the presidency in 2000.

According to polls, Peña Nieto is favored to win the Mexican presidential election on July 1, reported CNN México.