MEXICO CITY — Mexico's largest media company severed ties with a prominent journalist Sunday after he came under fire for retweeting a message seen as inciting violence against the country's front-running presidential candidate.
Televisa's news division said in a statement that it was ending its relationship with Ricardo Aleman effective the same day and canceling his program "La Mudanza" on Foro TV.
Aleman confirmed the separation via Twitter and also said Channel 11 was shutting down another show he hosts, "Despertador Politico."
The tweet referenced the assassinations of John Lennon, Gianni Versace and Selena Quintanilla-Perez by their own fans. It concluded: "Let's see when, chairos," which is a pejorative term often used to refer to journalists and others who support Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, candidate of the leftist Morena party in the July 1 elections.
In a retweet that he later deleted, Aleman added his own comment: "They speak!!!"
The journalist said, also via Twitter, that the retweet was intended not as an endorsement but as a warning about such threats, and that to argue otherwise was "twisting" his words.
"Televisa decided to cancel its working relationship with Ricardo Aleman!" he wrote. "I do not agree but I respect it. Every company has the right to contract whomever it sees fit! Lynching and demanding censorship have won! The democrats of Morena!"
A number of Mexican politicians have been slain this election year, including a Morena-allied mayoral candidate killed Friday in a Mexico City suburb.
Among those who criticized Aleman, explicitly or implicitly, were prominent intellectual Enrique Krauze, TV anchor Carlos Loret de Mola and La Jornada journalist Julio Astillero.
"Good morning to all from a country where we must URGENTLY moderate the war of words before it becomes something else," columnist and former diplomat Gabriel Guerra tweeted. "Violence, the threat of violence, calls to attack a candidate ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE. It is not OK to try to rationalize or justify them. End of story."
Noticieros Televisa acknowledged Aleman's accomplished career but said that "we categorically reject any expression that incites or endorses violence."
"Yesterday Ricardo Aleman transmitted a message from a third party that induces violence," its statement read. "Due to the absence of an explicit condemnation, we are forced to end our working relationship with the journalist as of today."