"The first rule is to ignore the private media, which Ortega and Murillo have variously described as CIA-funded and controlled by an elite class derisively termed the oligarchy. ... "
... Driven by decades-old hostilities toward the media, the Nicaraguan leader and his wife have defined private news media as direct political challengers and have sought to marginalize their influence. The first rule is to ignore the private media, which Ortega and Murillo have variously described as CIA-funded and controlled by an elite class derisively termed the oligarchy. To ensure that the Ortega administration’s views reach the public “uncontaminated” by critical media, government officials maintain contact with only a handful of pro-government outlets controlled by the president’s family or party. Even with those outlets, Ortega does not grant interviews, relying instead on sympathetic journalists to publish his prepared statements and cover his public events.
Critical journalists, on the other hand, face legal harassment and attacks on their character; Ortega has described them as “children of Goebbels” and enemies of the Nicaraguan people. The official media has followed up with smear campaigns intended to discredit independent reporters. Journalists and other critics of the Sandinista government have found themselves defendants in at least four criminal defamation lawsuits. And the Ortega administration has manipulated government advertising and access to official sources in ways designed to punish critical media and reward allies.
Latin American leaders across the political spectrum, from Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez to Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe, have pursued similar media strategies. But the degree to which Ortega has sought to insulate himself from public scrutiny is unusual in the region. ...