In Brazil's Republic
of Bugland anything-goes rules. The whistle
blowers of scandals don't run on some moral or civil duty sense.
In general, they are akin to the accused. The press is seduced
into taking a lead role in the political process and drawing
benefits offered to those who seek to nibble a portion of power.
The government is determined to put an end to the abusive disclosure of phone
taps, whether these taps have been authorized or not. The government is going
to fall on its face and gain the reputation of authoritarian on top of it
use the fortunate moniker created by journalist Fernando Rodrigues, one of
the precursors of reel-journalism and a current sagacious political commentatoris
not a result of the corruption level, the high standards of the press or the
cleansing readiness from the authorities.
Then, what are the factors
that contributed to the creation and extraordinary growth of such reel-journalism
in Bugland's open territory?
** Availability of the
press to embark on adventures at the disposal of parties with opposed interests.
** Ancient confusion in
the search for fairdealing and media bias, in order to bring it to fruition.
** The press seduced into
taking a lead role in the political process and drawing benefitsincluding
materialoffered to those who seek to nibble a portion of power.
In the Republic of Bugland,
all-is-fair and anything-goes rule. That's its most visible trademark. The
whistle blowers of scandals don't run on some moral or civil duty sense. In
general, they are akin to the accused; the charges are merely battling weapons
to impose themselves over their foes.
Game of Covers
Throughout the past eight
years in which banker Daniel Dantas has held the scepter of Bugland, many
of his opponents, if not the majority, can hardly be singled out as models
of integrity or righteousness.
The politicians who recently
began leaking information to the press about the Congressional Inquiry Commission
of the Banestado bank investigation cannot be described as guardians of funds
and champions in the fight against corruption.
Had they been so, they
wouldn't have prompted seemingly insignificant parts of a scandal that amounts
to 30 billion dollars. They are not interested in carrying forward the commission's
work. They only want a quick bite, forget the rest.
There is an unequivocal
political move in this series of revelationsbe it in the Kroll-Brasil
Telecom case, or in the case involving the presidents of the Central Bank
and Banco do Brasil. We are entering round two of a warfare that began with
Waldogate (a scandal involving Waldomiro Diniz, a top aide to chief of staff
José Dirceu) and certainly will not end here.
Public interest, in this
case, is only a cool pretext for the settling of personal and ideological
affairs. Bugland is a no-man's-land at the moment, infested with blue fliesall
wearing red hatsand lifted to heights by the market flies within the
When the ombudsman of
the daily Folha de S. Paulo, Marcelo Beraba, pointed out on Sunday
(8/01) the aberration inside newsmagazine Isto É`s cover story
(7/28/04, edition no. 1,816), he didn't only draw attention to ethical digressions
of a media outlet that confuses paid material with journalistic information
and whose center figures are once again the governing duo of the state of
Rio de Janeiro.
The problem is no longer
of a news organization that is in the red and will work out any deal hoping
to pocket a handful of nickels from unscrupulous politicians.
While the bill on the
face of the weekly magazine went to regular buyers, the heart of the cover
cashed in for someone else, with revelations of a political scandal.
In the issue that followed
(8/4/04, no. 1,817), Isto É raised the stakes to mark the launch
of a new journalistic formula: a fake cover featuring the campaign of a 12-CD
Collection of Brazilian Popular Music, and underneath it, the true cover,
which provoked a political crisis of great proportionsthe call for resignation
of Henrique Meirelles as president of the Central Bank, in an effort to please
the workings against Finance Minister Antonio Palocci.
Which of the covers is
In the Shadow
Once again, come to light
those who disregard the means as long as the end is attained. To them, it
is of little significance whether the pressor part of itbe of
service to shady interests; what matters is that the infractions be made public.
The position is supported
by many people with good intentions, but it can't be sustained on moral grounds.
If the accusations are equally engulfed in suspicions, why not discuss them
What pudency is this where
only parts of allegations are admitted while omitting the rest, impune? What
kind of press is this, so prolific in audacity when it comes to unveiling
undignified behaviors within the political spectrum, but unable to face infractions
within its own realm?
Naturally, the government
could not abstain from taking part in the latest festival of errors involving
phone taps and leaks of secret procedures; and as always, it stepped in, seduced
by heavy-handed solution.
Upon announcing the proposal
of legislation aimed at restraining content disclosure of phone taps, the
government clings to punitive recourses at one end of the procedure, forgetting
the vast number of open taps in the justice system (and, in the case of Congressional
Inquiry Commissions, the parliamentary system), which not only tolerates leaks,
but also encourages them as well.
Just as the corrupting
agent is as criminal as the corrupted victim, the leaking component also must
be equally punished as the object of the leak.
Bugland is a territory
frequented by those who hate transparency and have a passion for operating
in the shadow. At this point, the government already knows who spilled the
beans and who delivered the secret documents to newspapers and magazines.
And if they don't yet know, it is vehemently incompetent regarding its own
Instead of bravados of
gag orders threats, big and small, turning on the light will doincluding
the ones in the basement. Only then will press predators learn to play fairly.
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 email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org,