Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, once again attacked the Brazilian media this week claiming that freedom of expression does not imply “inventing stories and news.” He added that the media instead of helping public opinion preaches “hatred” and is only interested in “failures of his government.”
Following on the resignations of four members of his government, including the crucial post of cabinet chief Erenice Guerra after the media published alleged influence trafficking and kickbacks to have government contracts, Lula launched his second attack in a week against the media and insisted that freedom of expression “does not mean you can fabricate stories every day,” and spread “lies.”
On the campaign trail for next October 3 presidential election with his handpicked candidate Dilma Rousseff poised to become Brazil’s first woman president, Lula accused the media of wanting to see his “administration’s failure.”
“You follow the media, keep watch of Internet, listen to the radio, watch television, and you can easily see it rapidly turns into hatred, because they (the media) are encouraging the failure or the perception of the failure of Lula’s administration,” complained the president during a political rally for the inauguration of a North-South rail link.
Last Saturday, during another rally in Campinas, interior of São Paulo state, the president said that the October 3 elections, besides defeating political opponents “we are going to beat some newspapers and magazines which behave as if they were a political party.”
This triggered immediate reactions from the Brazilian Bar Association whose president Ophir Cavalcanti said Lula “is showing certain intolerance towards a constitutional principle which is essential for the strengthening of democracy: freedom of expression.”
Brazil’s Newspapers Association stated in an official release published in all members’ editions that it was “regrettable and worrisome” that President Lula “towards the end of his two mandates should express such disregard towards the role of the press in democratic societies.”
The government of Lula that has been involved in several claims and exposures by the media of corruption has had an almost sustained conflicting relation mainly with the written press and on several occasions tried to push for more rigid regulations regarding libel responsibility.
He also sponsored several forums to try and ensure “workers” and “journalists” control over property of the media and content of what is published.
In his eight years as president Lula has virtually lost “several generations” of his closest aides forced to resign or abandon politics for their involvement in proven and organized corruption.
This however has not dented his great communication charisma and popular support.