Antonio García Ferreras: "We have never given false information knowing it was false"
The journalist started 'Al rojo vivo' referring to recordings made by former police superintendent José Manuel Villarejo
BarcelonaJournalist Antonio García Ferreras has defended himself today against accusations of having spread false news about Pablo Iglesias following the publication of some recordings made by former police superintendent José Manuel Villarejo. "We have never given false information knowing it was false, neither information about accounts in the Grenadines nor any other. Neither about Podemos nor about anyone else," said the journalist at the beginning of the broadcast of Al rojo vivo, the programme he directs and presents on La Sexta, a channel of which he is also a director. This weekend Crónica Libre published some recordings made by Villarejo in which a conversation between the former superintendent and Ferreras can be heard. In the recordings, the journalist doubts the veracity of the information about Pablo Iglesias's alleged bank accounts in the Grenadines, a tax haven, which was given to him by Eduardo Inda, a journalist from OK Diario. "I told him: 'Eduardo, this is very serious. I'll go with it, but it's very delicate and too crude," Ferreras says in the recording.
"We are talking about recordings subsequent to the news about alleged accounts in the Grenadines and this is what we said: 'alleged accounts'. And we did it quoting the media that brought out the information, as is usually done, as is done in all the media", Ferreras explained, who has explained that he had met three times with Villarejo. The La Sexta journalist says that the media that claim Al rojo vivo gave the information about the alleged account knowing it was false are lying. Ferreras has detailed that after the news about the alleged accounts came out he met with Villarejo because he was pointed out as one of the men who could be behind the documents that supposedly proved their veracity. "We had to ask him, we had to do journalism and get to one of the sources, pointed out even by Podemos as possibly responsible for those papers", the journalist explains. According to the presenter of Al rojo vivo, the recordings that have been made public correspond to his first meeting with Villarejo.
In the justification he gave at the beginning of the programme, Ferreras claimed he explained to Iglesias personally that he had had a conversation with Villarejo and that the former superintendent had told him he believed that the papers referring to the possible accounts were not authentic. "That there was an operation against Podemos is obviously true, but what La Sexta did then, in streaming, was to resist that operation. Even so, surely we have learned to do better," said Ferreras. The journalist has admitted that when it became known that the accounts were not real he realised that he should not have reported the story. "But we didn't know it then," he concluded.
Campaign against La Sexta
During his intervention, Ferreras has admitted the existence of a campaign against Podemos, but he has also pointed out the political party as responsible for a movement to discredit La Sexta. "They are now trying to do something very similar," he remarked. The journalist recalled that for years La Sexta was accused of having given Podemos a boost, while now it is accused of the opposite. "It's insane," he said.
Pablo Iglesias has responded to Ferreras's words on El món a RAC1, a programme in which he regularly appears. "What we are seeing today with this pathetic music of trash television that was played in the background is the worst degradation of journalism that exists in Spain," said the former leader of Podemos. "Taking defensive positions on your own television, of which you are director, surrounded by collaborators whose salaries you pay, this is not giving explanations. Giving explanations is to answer questions from colleagues who do not depend economically on you. Or to give the floor to someone who has been the victim of a media manipulation that could have had electoral consequences", he remarked.
Ferreras's declarations come the day after Ana Pastor, presenter of El objetivo and Ferreras' partner, came out in defence of La Sexta. On a Twitter thread, Pastor claimed that it is "unfair" to use recordings without a context to accuse La Sexta of being part of a conspiracy against Podemos. "Anyone who watched TV those days knows what we did and what we did not do. That a recording without context by Villarejo "proves" that La Sexta was part of a conspiracy is in my opinion unfair. But the conclusions are up to you," Pastor says in a tweet in which she also shares a video summary of La Sexta, from April 2019, which explains how Iglesias' alleged accounts were reported.
Pastor also refers in her thread to the alleged smear campaign against Podemos. "You can't be "Podemos's TV" and, at the same time, be in a conspiracy in the same months of the same year. At this point I do not intend to convince anyone, but recordings lacking context –as Podemos well knows– can be used for anything."