Andrés Manuel López Obrador with Donald Trump
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with Donald Trump. White House photo

Imagine if Donald Trump had announced the salary and bonus of Fox News commentator Chris Wallace, a Trump critic, at a news conference in an effort to smear him?

It’s surprising Trump didn’t do that because he despised the press and reporters. 

Long before Trump’s signature Jan. 6 speech that prefaced a riot and insurrection at the Capitol, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador — or AMLO as he is know — riled up his supporters by declaring that the presidential election was stolen from him in 2006 and again in 2012.

He demanded his supporters demonstrate and shut down business activities. He traveled throughout Mexico “appointing” officers to his shadow government, which he called the one “true” presidency. 

AMLO’s shutdowns were unsuccessful at the time; nonetheless, he was elected for real in 2018. 

A few days ago, in a flurry of misrepresentations and despite the recent shooting deaths of five Mexican journalists, AMLO revealed a critical journalist’s income in an effort to discredit the man. 

López Obrador has long attacked  journalists as biased, pretentious “sellouts” who are aligned with his political opponents. His morning news conferences feature a segment called “Who’s Who of Lies,” in which he names and shames reporters whom he accuses of peddling “fake news” in an echo of Trump.

The Mexican president continued his war against the media when he publicly revealed the salary of a well-known investigative journalist who recently reported that one of the president’s sons has a lavish lifestyle at odds with the president’s austere image.

According to López Obrador, Carlos Loret de Mola, earns much more than AMLO himself. So the president threatened turn loose the dogs of taxation on Loret. He brazenly accused Loret of earning money for “hitting him” with critical stories.

AMLO claimed that Loret made $1.6 million last year — compared with the president’s $100,000 salary.

“Do you think this is because he’s a high-flying, very intelligent journalist, a good writer? No! It’s because of his hatchet jobs,” said López Obrador.

His audience of reporters rose as one to ask the question of where the president got the salary information and whether he violated privacy laws. 

As in the United States, publication of a person’s financial records without permission is a crime in Mexico. AMLO says the info came “anonymously.”

“There is no pretext for this abuse of power,” said Daniel Moreno, director of the news website Political Animal. “It’s an unacceptable attack from any point of view.”

Loret responded on Twitter, saying that the salary figures shown at the news conference were “inflated,” noting that while they were purported to be from last year they included earnings from Televisa, the TV network where he once worked as an anchor but left in 2019. If López Obrador doesn’t realize it, or hasn’t been advised by his staff, 2019 was two years before 2021.

“This would-be dictator is out of his mind,” said Loret, and he added more in a Washington Post opinion piece titled, “For AMLO, journalism is the number one enemy.”

But the words that so annoyed the president were in Loret’s report in January about the president’s 41-year-old son. This seems to have blown-up AMLO’s public campaign against corruption. 

The story alleged that José Ramón López, who served as a campaign manager for his father’s 2018 presidential bid, lives in a sprawling, multi-million dollar home outside Houston, and drives a white Mercedes worth nearly $70,000.

The report also found that in 2019 and 2020 he and his wife lived in a nearby mansion owned by Keith Schilling, who was an executive at oil company Baker Hughes, which has lucrative contracts with the Mexican state oil company Pemex. AMLO is a staunch supporter of the nearly-bankrupt Pemex.

On Dec. 1, 2018, then new President López Obrador converted the presidential mansion into a public museum and took a 60% pay cut. He blames what he calls neo-liberal “decadence” of past administrations and the news media for supposedly eroding the moral character of the nation. At the same time, he claims he has rooted out corruption like no other previous president.

The facts are that his administration has not convicted a single corrupt politician that wasn’t charged before AMLO came to power three years ago.

Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine Corps veteran, political consultant and author of the new book White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans. His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.