Mexican president laments attack on journalist, then bashes media

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a news conference where he condemned an apparent assassination attempt on a prominent news anchor and critic of the president, at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, December 16, 2022. REUTERS/Mexico's Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

MEXICO CITY, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Just days after condemning an assassination attempt on a prominent journalist, Mexico's president on Monday criticized the media for allegedly protecting special interest groups, even singling out the targeted news anchor.

Leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blasted the "spokespeople for conservatism" during his daily news conference on Monday, calling out by name several high-profile independent journalists including television and radio host Ciro Gomez Leyva

Gomez Leyva said two motorcycle-mounted individuals shot at him when he was in his car just a short distance from his home last Thursday night, noting only the vehicle's armor saved him.

"Now they play victim," added Lopez Obrador. "(But) they are the elite, from the most select media," he said, claiming well-paid media figures seek to protect interest groups he did not name.

Lopez Obrador on Monday denied using his regular news conference to "stigmatize" perceived opponents, including the media. But rights group Article 19 has compiled data showing he uses the conferences to single out reporters, criticizing the media six times a month on average last year.

Mexico is the world's deadliest country for media with 11 journalists killed so far this year, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Violence against the press during the first half of Lopez Obrador's term was up 85%, compared to the same period of his predecessor's term, according to a report by the rights group.

"Although the motive for the attack against Gomez Leyva is not yet known, it's impossible not to connect the dots: Mexico's president has to take responsibility for being the main promoter of a hostile environment against journalism," wrote Carlos Loret de Mola, also singled out by the president, in a Washington Post opinion column published on Monday.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Lisa Shumaker

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