Startling Isto É's cover story of 8/18/04 (edition no. 1,819).
Not for what is written, but for what is omitted, forgotten, discarded, and
shelved. It is one of the greatest libels against the irresponsible conduct
of the press in the 1992-93 period.
But likewise, it is a
flagrant exposure of the inability of this same pressmostly the weekly
news magazinesto shed light on all issues, move ahead as events unfold,
and put together all the information within the proper dimension.
If the article in Isto
É is an exclusive, as announced, would it not be worthwhile to
put it off another week in order to get beyond the facts that took place approximately
a decade ago?
This charge against the
series of accusations, especially at this moment, cannot be circumscribed
to the episodic. It is imperative that all developments and implications be
examined to re-establish the entire truth.
The facts are overwhelmingly
serious and exceedingly emblematic to be left at the scandalous level. Or
are we once again confronted with the uncontrollable compulsion to "make
noise" and "muffle it" soon after, by putting it away on a
shelf as unfinished business?
Our Dreyfus (the obscure
French captain that came under undue suspicion of having provided secret information
to the German government in the late 1800's) got crushed as a result of a
crafty fabrication, and neither a Zola nor a Clemenceau-like character came
out to denounce the nature of the falsehood, the rumor, the intrigue of political
rivals, or the stupid mistake in arithmetic.
That incredible "journalistic
gaffe", occurred more than a decade ago, removed from the presidential
race a quasi-candidate, and this was not brought to the attention of today's
readers-voters, thereby making it impossible for them to formulate an opinion
as to the morals and ethics of those who feed off power.
Was Isto É
only interested in disqualifying the contestant? Or was it serving sectors
of the government that think of nothing else but tightening the tourniquet
against the press?
The weekly magazine Veja
made an error in 1993, but at the time, no one cried foul on behalf of House
Representative Ibsen Pinheiro; nor did the now generous IstoÉ.
This is the big story.
The "tall tale"
by Luis Costa Pinto is insignificant, if compared to the conspiracy of silence,
which for the past ten years has kept the real story under covers, hidden
from the Brazilian people.
All of the Pinto's accounts
are immersed in pain, for the anguish that his article has brought. They deserve
some understanding and respect, because we are not sold on the Errata
regretseither, late or delayedare still not in our attitude repertoire.
Most prefer carrying their sins and misdeeds to the grave. While fellow journalist
Ibsen Pinheiro's biography began a process of reconstruction, Costa Pinto's
has been compromised. Not for the mistake, but for the delay in fixing it.
Opportunities were there.
On Tuesday, may 16, 2000, at 10:30pmtherefore, more than four years
agothe TV show Observatório da Imprensa (Press Observatory)
decided to bring face to face the lynchers (old and current ones) and Ibsen
Pinheiro, in the studios of TVE, in Rio, to uncover all the intrigues and
maneuvers of which Ibsen had been a victim.
There was a storm of protests,
above all from segments close to the Workers' Party. They accused the Observatório
of condescendence toward the malfeasants; as they now attempt to blame the
Observatório for commanding the reaction from media owners against
the bizarre idea of a Federal Council of Journalism.
Where was reporter Luís
Carlos Pinto, who at that moment missed a magnificent opportunity to rehabilitate
the accused and kept himself silent on the days that followed?
Where were the great stars
of investigative journalism, who weren't sensitized by the poignant demonstration
of innocence during the one-hour show, live, on national TV?
And where was Fenaj (National
Federation of Journalists), who for so many years has shown concernas
they claimfor professional ethics and fighting abuses?
In February, this year,
when the name Waldomiro Diniz appeared all over the news, much was said about
his role as supplier to then House Representatives Aloízio Mercadante
and José Dirceu, in the investigations of the Budgetary Congressional
Inquiry Commission, which led up to the impeachment of the former Speaker
of the House.
No one recalled his role
as the one who fed the slander against Ibsen Pinheiro, relative to the transfer
of 1 million dollars from one account to another. Amnesia.
If the press purports
to be the registry of civil society, it cannot allow itself such memory lapses.
If amidst the haste of deadlines and the frenzy of accusations not a single
journalist around the editorial rooms steps forward with the guts to shout,
"stop the press!", to search for the truth where no one is looking
into, then we are completely and definitely screwed.
A diploma in medicine
isn't necessary to sense that our media is suffering from Alzheimer and our
Congress has Parkinson's: one dangerously forgetful, the other clearly unsteady.
Because of three extra
zeroes (in the original allegations, "confusion" in currency conversion
transformed one thousand into one million) we have gone through one of the
biggest humiliations in our history.
The ridiculous error in
arithmetic created an appalling media lynching that an irresponsible Legislative
and its sly foxes turned into a clamorous injustice.
Who is going to indemnify
Ibsen Pinheiro? Does João Paulo Cunha, Speaker of the House and current
boss of reporter Luís Costa Lima, intend to organize a solemn session
to reinstate the former colleague?
In this nation, where
self-esteem lacks and arrogance is abundant, will someone sufficiently noble,
dignified, and decent come forward to apologize?
Voters in Porto Alegre
will have a chance in October, when Ibsen Pinheiro will re-launch his political
career as city councilman.
The media, certainly,
will opt for a side note in "Errata".
This article was originally
published in Observatório da Imprensa — www.observatoriodaimprensa.com.br.
Alberto Dines, the author, is a journalist, founder and researcher at LABJORLaboratório
de Estudos Avançados em Jornalismo (Laboratory for Advanced Studies
in Journalism) at UNICAMP (University of Campinas) and editor of the Observatório
da Imprensa. He also writes a column on cultural issues for the Rio
daily Jornal do Brasil. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is
a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of
experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and
political sciences, and sports. He lives in Boca Raton, FL. His email: email@example.com.