Photo via Urgente 24

A powerful political figure accused journalists of spreading lies through the media outlets they work for yesterday. The journalists immediately came out to rebut the claims, revealing that it was the politician who has actually been spreading falsehoods. This exact scenario could have easily taken place in several countries around the world — the United States, Venezuela, for example — and involved several political leaders who have an ongoing fight with the media — those countries’ presidents, Donald Trump and Nicolás Maduro — bur this time, after a long time, it happened in Argentina.

Yesterday, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner posted on Facebook a cropped image of four well-known journalists and accused them of spreading lies. In the picture, the journalists were allegedly talking about the chaotic financial, economic and social situation the Province of Santa Cruz is currently going through and drawing a comparison with Venezuela, basically the current parameter for everything that can go wrong with a country.

“The national broadcast (of lies),” reads her post’s caption, which makes references to the numerous Cadenas Nacionales she delivered while in office. By the caption, it can be interpreted that the former president criticized the message that the journalists — Santiago del Moro, Alejandro Fantino, Alfredo Leuco and Mariana Fabbiani — wanted to transmit with the comparison: that Santa Cruz is basically going down in flames, just like Venezuela.

She would have a reason for it: her sister-in-law, Alicia Kirchner, is the province’s current governor, and people associated with her political model have been administering the territory since 1991. In fact, her late husband, President Néstor Kirchner, was the governor from 1991 to 2003, before taking the highest office in the country.

The chaotic state Santa Cruz is immersed in is often used by the detractors of Kirchnerism to illustrate their point about why its political model is nonviable and therefore shouldn’t be in power. If a province that holds less than 1 percent of the population and has numerous natural resources — oil, gas, among others — as well as a rich tourism industry, can’t pay the salaries of its public employees without constant aid from the national administration, they must be doing something wrong, goes the often-used argument.

The situation in Santa Cruz has been constantly grabbing headlines after a protest demanding the Alicia Kirchner administration pay March’s salaries to the public employees turned violent last Friday. The protesters were repressed by police when some of them tried to storm the governor’s mansion. Four people were injured and Alicia and Cristina Kirchner, who were meeting at the time, couldn’t leave the house for several hours and had to set up a barricade to prevent people from entering.

It’s a fact that the former president and her lieutenants don’t share the same vision for the country that many journalists, especially the ones working for the largest outlets in the country — La Nación, Clarín, TN, Radio Mitre, for example. However, this time the president resorted to a complete empirical falsehood in her attempt to prove that she was in the right. The banners of their respective TV shows had been modified. They weren’t talking about Santa Cruz nor comparing it with Venezuela at the moment those frames were frozen.

Cue the immediate backlash. The journalists came out to rebut the former president’s assertion and used it as a standpoint to instead question her honesty, making reference to the numerous court cases in which she has been accused of corruption during her time in office.

Let’s go one by one.

Santiago Del Moro:

“I respectfully communicate you that the banner from Intratables for which Mrs Kirchner accused us of lying is FAKE, it never existed.

“Mrs. Kirchner, I politely request you be more respectful when you address my person. I’m a good person who religiously pays his taxes.”

“I don’t steal, I love my daughters, I don’t make threats, I don’t have enemies, I don’t hate, I wake up at 5 AM every day.”

“Everything I have I earned working, I listen and respect the convictions of each person who comes to my show every night.” “I’m like most people in this dear country, who all they want is to move forwards by working.”

“So I’m asking for respect, Mrs. Kirchner, don’t call me a liar! Your are the one who has to prove that to the courts.”

Mariana Fabbiani:

“Yesterday the former president published a picture…making reference to the Santa Cruz issue and a picture of me crying,” began Fabbiani. She went on to explain that the picture had nothing to do with the way her show covered the subject,. It was an image from April 2014, when Fabbiani cried on her show, as a result of the passing of her grandmother and her friend Jorge Ibáñez, both of which took place on the same day.

“I deeply regret that you used such a painful moment in my life to do politics, a cheap shot, a cheap resource. It also upsets me a great deal that you called me a liar…too much cynicism. I’ve been a communicator for 20 years, people know me, I live on my credibility. I’m honest and honorable. Can you say the same about yourself? Undoubtedly, those are qualities that you will have to prove to the courts,” she said.

Diego Leuco, son of Alfredo Leuco and co-host of their TV show, Los Leuco:

Cristina entered the embarrassment phase. She accused us of lying, of being a part of a national broadcast of lies, when she’s the one who can’t explain anything. Not even how she gets her livelihood.”

Alejandro Fantino:

“Ma’am, really, you made a mistake. Someone told you a false story. There was no set up. This is a plural network that has been doing journalism for many years. I can’t believe that you think this of us.”

This is far from being the first time the former president argues that certain media outlets are biased. During her administrations, she regularly took newspaper covers — mainly Clarín and La Nación — to point out the reasons for her stance. The moment when this rhetoric was perhaps best illustrated took place in 2015, when then-Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich tore an issue of Clarín in a press conference, accusing it of misquoting him.

So far, Fernández hasn’t made reference to this events. At the moment this article is being written, her last tweet was the cover image of Página 12 outlet about the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo announcing they found the 122nd grandchild.