Complaints against freelancers and media targeting: Vox’s strategy to silence journalists

The extreme right has a unique way of understanding press freedom. voxheir to the passion for the courts that the Francoist pseudo-union demonstrated in its day Clean hands, has included in its political-judicial strategy journalists who work autonomously and who dare to criticize them. The victims of this campaign warn that they only seek to silence them and instill fear in them.

Coinciding with the World Day of Press Freedom which takes place this Tuesday Public has collected the testimonies of journalists –among whom there are professionals who work autonomously and, therefore, lack a business structure behind– who have seen firsthand that campaign by the far-right Vox.

According to different voices consulted by Publicthe campaign is summed up in a few but forceful lines: if you are a journalist, you work autonomously and take advantage of a column or a gathering to criticize the party of Santiago Abascaltomorrow you could find yourself immersed in an expensive legal procedure.

“Vox follows the strategy of donald trump of placing the press as an enemy with the aim of intimidating and silencing journalists and media outlets that he considers critical of his policy”, affirms the president of the Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain (FAPE), Nemesio Rodriguez.

One of the first to suffer this strategy of the extreme right has been the well-known journalist Anthony Mastercurrent deputy director of Tide. On January 2, 2019, the Vox legal team welcomed the new year with a lawsuit against this informant, accusing him of crimes such as slander, insults and a hate crime for a message posted on social networks.

That meant a real declaration of intent. The far-right party had just broken into the Andalusian Parliament with 12 seats, its first electoral success. Just one month after the regional elections, the ultra formation appeared in court with a complaint under their arm.

“Vox has filed a lawsuit against me for saying what I think about them: their speech is co-responsible for sexist violence. I’m going to answer them in a way …”, said a video broadcast shortly after on Twitter by Master. Then “Bella ciao” began to play, anthem of the anti-fascist resistance. “I do not apologize to the extreme right,” he remarked.

The complaint from Abascal’s party was filed first by the court and then by the supreme courtwhich last November ratified in its ruling that calling a political party “fascist” or “Nazi” is protected under the umbrella of freedom of expression.

However, the story did not end there. “On April 20, 2021, when they already saw that that first complaint was not going to have a path, they filed another complaint that is still in process today for insulting and slanderous expressions against Vox and its voters,” Maestre told Public.

The new complaint points to another series of tweets by the journalist. “They seek to keep you busy, to scare you, so that you see that they are watching you and be more careful, to see if in the end it compensates you, because all this consumes your time and economic resources,” says the journalist who was denounced.

Fear and self-censorship

In his opinion, the Vox campaign constitutes “an attempt to intimidate the press and try to get you to self-censor: you can decide to stop writing about them because maybe your resources are not enough to cover yourself legally.” “It’s normal that a lot of people who aren’t used to these situations don’t want to be put under that kind of pressure,” he added.

This newspaper has been able to confirm the existence of at least two other criminal complaints against journalists by Vox. The strategy followed in these cases has targeted visible people, with public relevance, but who at the same time work autonomously, which means that they must bear the costs related to legal proceedings.

In the same way, the extreme right acts against freedom of the press on another front: there is a list of media -among which is Public– that they became part of a “black list” and that they are prohibited from accessing their acts or press conferences.

“Vox vetoes the access of the media and journalists to their acts of informative interest. It is a behavior that violates the right to information, a constitutional right that a parliamentary party is obliged to defend, instead of limiting it”, highlights the FAPE president .

In this sense, Rodríguez stresses that it is “an attack on the free exercise of journalism.” “With these vetoes, Vox not only tries to intimidate journalists to silence them, but also tries to avoid accountability for their actions and decisions before public opinion, accountability that is done through the media,” he said. the.

The case of the veto imposed –among other means– on the newspaper The country Y Being Chain On the electoral night of November 10, 2019, he arrived at the supreme court. In a ruling issued at the end of April 2021, the magistrates wrote that the right to information enjoys a “preferential” character, while stressing that granting “right of admission” to journalists and media outlets would “pulverize” the principles of equality and political pluralism, according to the aforementioned newspaper.


Vox’s campaign against press freedom also worries Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In its latest annual report, this organization warns about the effects of the “rise of the extreme right” in this area. “Vox insists on its strategy of stigmatizing ‘enemy’ journalists, tightening its Internet harassment and intimidation maneuvers, and prohibiting journalists from covering its events.

Along these lines, RSF affirms that “the climate of polarization that persists, and has even intensified in political life and in the positioning of the media since the coming to power of the coalition of PSOE and United We Canis eroding society’s trust in journalists and reinforcing hate speech against the press.”


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