Every time that a government is having a tough time it puts the blame on communication.
That of others, and its own. In the beginning, there are incriminations for
the media, which is "showing ill will", "is at the service
of shadowy interests" or "wants to obtain benefits and sinecures
Over time, as the negative
reports in the newspapers and magazines, and on radio and television continue,
bad governments begin to cut their own flesh, that is, as they continue to
have a good opinion of themselves, they place the blame for the bad news on
their own system of public relations.
This is what seems to
be happening with the Lula government. Complaints about the behavior of the
press have diminished, and the accusations against its own functionaries have
increased. Highly-placed advisors, ministers, courtiers, and lickspittles
are unleashing an intense campaign to demoralize their own professionals,
trying to convince the President that, by complaining about or even replacing
the targeted servitors, all would be different
They lay the blame on
them for the bad phase that the government is going through, "which in
reality is marvelous, perfect and angelic, simply done an injustice by the
incompetence of communicators without qualifications". Not infrequently
they extrapolate and demand that these poor folks publish news that is not
news, like the potato harvest, the fact that the trains run on time and the
planes leave on schedule, or even the absence of stray bullets in Rocinha,
once a week.
There was a time, during
the military dictatorship, when a general wondered why journalists only published
bad news, never giving press to everything that was going very well. We tried
to explain to him that when dog bites man, that's not newsnews is when
man bites dog. Dialogue was impossible, but that was an exceptional regime
The hell of it is to see
this distortion repeated, when, until the opposite is shown to be the case,
we are living in a democracy. Until Gushiken was admonished by Lula.
The other day it was the
turn of the minister for communication, Luiz Gushiken, who in spite of being
a close friend of Lula's received a resounding scolding, in the form of the
classic statement that "my government is not managing to communicate".
But there was worse.
Practically in disgrace,
publicist Duda Mendonça is no longer summoned to Brasília. Ricardo
Kotscho, secretary for the press, received his walking papers, as did spokesman
André Singer. This is an injustice. Lula won't find better people than
It can't be said that
they are all a group of angels, incapable of error. What is not right to put
the onus of the bad image of the government on their shoulders, like the mother
in the story, who seeing her son marching out of step in a military parade,
notes that her little one is the only one who is right, and the whole battalion
Those who hold power forget
that one can only sell snake oil under dictatorships. When this happens, the
communications media lose credibility and advertisers. Public opinion rejects
published opinion whenever it falsifies reality.
If the government had
begun to create the promised ten million jobs, or even one percent of them,
if Brazilian entrepreneurs had their tax burden reduced even a little bit,
if Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) and Primeiro Emprego (First Job) had shown some
results, then certainly the spokespersons from the palace would be receiving
compliments and praise.
The way that things are,
they are the ones to blame, even if until now that they have not been asked
if there is really anything to communicate.
Euphoria in the
The haste with which São
Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin is pushing the candidacy of Saulo de Castro
Abreu Filho for the mayoralty of São Paulo is cause for much celebration
in the PT. This is the best news that the candidacy of Marta Suplicy for the
mayoralty of São Paulo could wish for.
First, because, with all
due respect, Dr. Saulo de Castro Abreu Filho has no votes, in spite of his
excellent reputation. And further, because, after José Serra's withdrawal
of his candidacy, it will be much easier for the governor to control the national
convention of the PSDB and gain prominence as its candidate for president
All this, of course, if
Fernando Henrique Cardoso interrupts his campaign to return to the Palácio
in Brasília. Serra would certainly make way for Cardoso's candidacy.
Now governor Geraldo Alckmin...
Carlos Chagas writes for the Rio's daily Tribuna da Imprensa and
is a representative of the Brazilian Press Association, in Brasília.
He welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
the Portuguese by Tom Moore. Moore has been fascinated by the language and
culture of Brazil since 1994. He translates from Portuguese, Spanish, French,
Italian and German, and is also active as a musician. He is the librarian
for music, modern languages and media at The College of New Jersey. Comments
welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.