Abstract: This research analyses the discourse on Twitter surrounding the “Ferrerasgate” scandal involving the Spanish journalist Antonio García Ferreras, director and host of the television show Al Rojo Vivo (La Sexta, Spanish TV channel). It examines the main object of criticism, the tone of the discourse, the argumentation made by users, as well as the existence of hate in their rhetoric. The tweets included in the study’s sample (N = 2,846), posted between 5 and 15 July 2022 and extracted on 16 July 2022, were examined in two complementary phases. The first entailed a quantitative content analysis of the messages and the second analysed whether hate speech was found in the sample as a whole. The Sketch Engine tool was used to determine whether “crypto hate speech” existed in the sample as a whole, and to whom it was targeted. The results reveal that “Ferrerasgate” sparked a debate that spilt over into journalism across the board, calling into question the media’s role in a democracy. The most prominent arguments were the condemnation of misinformation, lack of independence, and absence of professionalism in the journalism sector. It should be noted that most of the messages were destructive in tone; hate was found in the tweets analysed, although these did not represent a high percentage in relation to the total sample.
Keywords: disinformation; Ferrerasgate; hate speech; journalism; online discourse; Twitter