Instead of focusing on the politically devastating Odebrecht scandal, Colombia’s news media are mainly reporting on the opposition leader receiving a few thousand dollars, political news website La Silla Vacia reported Monday.
The website counted the number of news reports and discovered that media found the $6,300 cash (COP20 million) contributions to Senator Gustavo Petro considerably more newsworthy than Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez‘ alleged attempts to cover up a $32 million (COP102 billion) bribery scandal that implicates both President Ivan Duque and his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos.
How big the scandals are
Sources: Prosecutor general’s Office / Supreme Court
Particularly Blu Radio, which is run by Duque’s brother-in-law, and commercial television networks RCN and Caracol diverted the attention away from the Odebrecht scandal that did make headlines in international media like the Financial Times.
The website found that the only news media prioritizing the scandal that is rocking the foundations of Colombia’s political system were public television network Canal Uno and La Silla Vacia itself.
Who Colombia’s media have reported on
Source: La Silla Vacia
The commercial media’s apparent bias has been countered on social media where the hashtag #ElfocoesOdebrecht (ThefocusisonOdebrecht) was a major trending topic on Twitter last week.
Colombia’s commercial news media have long been criticized for their apparent frivolity and pro-government bias.
A linguistic study from 2016 revealed that many Colombians had a severely distorted view on the reality of their country’s armed conflict that has left more than 260,000 dead and 80,000 missing mainly because of the news media’s apparent bias.
An ongoing study of press freedom foundation FLIP is revealing how many of the country’s commercial news media hare financially reliant on government propaganda funds.
Caracol TV, for example, received more than $1 million in funds from the Bogota Mayor’s Office in 2016 and 2017, the FLIP’s “League Against Silence” series revealed.