Citizens of Scandal

Journalism, Secrecy, and the Politics of Reckoning in Mexico

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 13 illustrations Published: October 2020

Author: Vanessa Freije

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Mexico, Politics

In Citizens of Scandal, Vanessa Freije explores the causes and consequences of political scandals in Mexico from the 1960s through the 1980s. Tracing the process by which Mexico City reporters denounced official wrongdoing, she shows that by the 1980s political scandals were a common feature of the national media diet. News stories of state embezzlement, torture, police violence, and electoral fraud provided collective opportunities to voice dissent and offered an important, though unpredictable and inequitable, mechanism for political representation. The publicity of wrongdoing also disrupted top-down attempts by the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional to manage public discourse, exposing divisions within the party and forcing government officials to grapple with popular discontent. While critical reporters denounced corruption, they also withheld many secrets from public discussion, sometimes out of concern for their safety. Freije highlights the tensions—between free speech and censorship, representation and exclusion, and transparency and secrecy—that defined the Mexican public sphere in the late twentieth century.


“This is a breakthrough book. With extensive documentation, Vanessa Freije narrates the uneven and incomplete dance among the public, journalists, and government that opened the Mexican media in the 1960s and transformed the nature of public debate and political culture. With delicate attention to forward movement and sinister recoil, she brilliantly situates her study in the proliferating field of inquiry into the public sphere.” — Mary Kay Vaughan, author of Portrait of a Young Painter: Pepe Zúñiga and Mexico City's Rebel Generation

Citizens of Scandal is a deeply researched account of the transformation of Mexican journalism during that country's economic transition from being a "miracle of progress" to its "crisis" (1960s–1980s). Vanessa Freije tracks the gradual diversification of Mexico's somewhat compromised and regulated print journalism, focusing most particularly on the press's part in managing scandal and rumor—agrarian corruption, forced sterilization, shady oil deals. This book introduces us to a vital agent in modern Mexican public life.” — Claudio Lomnitz, author of The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón


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Vanessa Freije is Assistant Professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations  ix
List of Abbreviations  xi
Acknowledgments  xiii
Introduction  1
1. Reckoning with the Revolution  23
2. "Vehicles of Scandal"  51
3. Muckraking and the Oil Boom and Bust  79
4. The Spectacle of Impunity  107
5. A Mediated Disaster  138
6. The Weaponization of Scandal  167
Epilogue  193
Conclusion  199
Notes  207
Bibliography  255
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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