Journalists and social media users are rallying behind Daniel Santoro after the Clarín newspaper journalist decided to take leave from the primetime debate show Animales Sueltos.
With the hashtag #SantoroEsPeriodismo (Santoro is Journalism), colleagues and supports of Santoro have rallied behind Clarín's star investigative reporter, defending him against accusations including that he spied on his Animales Sueltos colleagues in exchange for favours with Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli.
Stornelli is facing investigations, both criminally and through disciplinary channels within the Judiciary, for allegedly using a frontman, lawyer Marcelo D'Alessio, to extort money from business people tied to the alleged graft scheme known colloquially as the "notebooks of corruption". Stornelli is the lead prosecutor in the pre-trial investigation of that investigation, which links Argentina's construction sector with officials from the Planning Ministry during the previous Kirchner administrations.
"I have decided to take leave from Animales Sueltos to prepare a complaint with the Judiciary over the campaign set up against me. Thanks (host Alejandro) Fantino and the Grupo América (producer) for their support despite these attacks", Santoro announced via Twitter last week.
Several high-profile journalists have come out in Santoro's defence.
"Those who smear, fear the truth. Trying to dig dirt on Daniel Santoro, they only become more exposed. Maestro of journalists and generous like few others", anchorwoman Cristina Pérez said via Twitter.
Fellow Animales Sueltos panelist Tato Young wrote: "It makes me laugh and makes me angry that they think he's part of this mess. The dogs are on the other side".
For his part, Eduardo Feinmann, who is also tied to the scandal, said he "agreed" with the sentiment surrounding the hashtag.
Nicolás Wiñazki, who was last week found guilty of spreading fake news, said he "admired and learned from Daniel Santoro. He's honest, a maestro, an example."
Four of the country's most high-profile journalists are caught up in the scandal: Santoro, GPS host Rolando Graña, A24 host Eduardo Feinmann, and Canal 13 journalist Rodrigo Alegre.
Santoro is mentioned 15 times in Dolores Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla's investigation into D'Alessio's alleged extortion, while the other three appear three times each.
"I did my job as a journalist", Santoro told Perfil, playing down the connection while also defending Stornelli. He described the prosecutor as "impeccable" and "incapable of a taking a bribe".
Judge Ramos Padilla insisted that investigators were yet to establish the extent of the journalists' possible involvement in D'Alessio's activities.
"It must be made clear that this (ruling) does not seek to question the investigate aspect of journalism but rather just to highlight the level of coordination among the parties, each one in their own specific role attempting to achieve a goal. Each concrete case must be evaluated and interrogated, including the level of knowledge each one of the parties had in D'Alessio's illegal activities with the possible involvement of the Prosecutor (Stornelli)", Ramos Padilla said.