Brazil’s Media was Always Pro-Government

The repeated denunciations of the “coup media,” which supposedly favors the impeachment (a “coup,” in the government’s supporters language), is interesting because it shows how short everyone’s memories are (“Novos discursos, o mesmo golpismo“, Carta Capital, April 4; “Deputado Paulo Pimenta publica roteiro de golpe jurídico-midiático em 13 passos“, Jornal do Brasil, March 25). Nobody remembers that this same media was infatuated with Dilma Rousseff by mid-2012. Who remembers the editorials by Veja, Folha de São Paulo, and Estadão brown-nosing the president in the first 100 days of her administration? Who remembers the Época magazine’s extra edition crawling after the government after the 2010 election? Who remembers IstoÉ magazine’s giving Dilma the “Brazilian of the Year” award in 2011? Who remembers the “Dilmachinist,” as she was portrayed in humor TV shows? And what about the spaghetti she prepared on daytime TV? The media wasn’t anything if not obsequious for a long time.

During Lula’s first term Congress vote-buying scandal, she was shielded by the press. The order of the day was to bury the old Workers’ Party (PT) and save the new Workers’ Party. That despite the fact that the “new” and “modern” PT was deeply involved with the whole corruption scheme.

The most symbolic episode was the so-called “ministry clean-up” in Dilma’s second term. Dilma had sold a dozen ministries to rotten politicians in the hopes of getting support during her election campaign. To get rid of them, she started leaking information to the media so they would be forced to renounce. During these series of corruption scandals, the media — especially the largest TV network, Globo — created the fantastical narrative in which the ministries’ corruption and the president had nothing to do with each other. On the contrary, she was promoting a clean-up in the government. I remember being flabbergasted by the construction of this lie of a honest president surrounded by corrupt ministers. Dilma was the Bonapartian hero cutting loose the Gordian knot of the Brazilian coalition presidentialism. She was Dilma the broom, sweeping away the dirt in the hallways of power. It was basically the same idiocy that led Globo to support Collor’s presidency more than 20 years ago. It was then that rumor had it that powerful Globo editor Ali Kamel had been neutered in their journalism division to celebrate the new arrangement with the presidency.

It later became clear that this clean-up was very particular, for it replaced mice with bigger rats — only this time they were rats closer to the president. In the Ministry of Transportation, for instance, after the “sweeping” changes, the bribes were raised from 4% to 8%. Globo soon collected her end of the bargain in 2014, when it commissioned the Homeric beating of the president during the first question of the live interview with the president from Brazilian during the Jornal Nacional (the prime time newscast in the country), which dealt with corruption and ministry reform.

The content put out by the press only really changed after the protests of June 2013. Veja then published a headline saying that “the streets message is clear: it’s time to govern” — which sounds ridiculous when you consider that the magazine swooned over or stayed silent about the government for two years. That’s the greatest irony: the first sign of discontent came from the streets when the “coup media” worked for the government.

Before you tell me I’m crazy, I’m not the one saying all those things. The left is. Rodrigo Vianna, a journalist who left Globo in 2006 and became of of these paid mouthpieces of the regime, published an article in 2012 stating the same.

It wasn’t only the media that adored Dilma. Everyone did. She reached 80% approval ratings. The moldy right-wingers were ecstatic: Dilma didn’t talk to the social movements, didn’t care for the Natives who lived in the Xingu River Basin, didn’t have any interest in land reforms. She liked hydroelectric dams and shooting rubber bullets at protesters. She was basically our old military dictator Ernesto Geisel in a skirt.

But, after all, who spoke up against the government? The usual suspects: the economists. Mansueto Almeida, ever since the government campaigned for the opening of a tablet computer manufacture in the country (today that sounds ridiculous, but years ago everyone thought it was a leap into the future), said that the industrial policy of the government was anachronistic and that the country was becoming more and more closed off. Alexandre Schwartsman was fired from Santander because he insisted that the government was using state oil company Petrobras to forge a fiscal balance. Celso Pastore kept saying that the government was manipulating exchange rates to contain price levels. Fabio Giambiagi wrote over and over that consumption and debt had reached their limit and could not sustain growth.

For many, the misery Brazil finds itself in nowadays has been a long time coming. The media the left insists always wanted to oust the government, on the other hand, was taken by surprise.

Translated by Erick Vasconcelos.

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