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Deep Throat Has Become a Whistle-Blower in Brazil

“In the real world Deep Throat is leaving the stage.” Who wrote that in the latest issue of the former-independent Isto É weekly magazine (June 6, p. 97)  was not a media critic or political scholar. It was the charming Dr. Mauro Marcelo de Lima e Silva, director-general of the Abin (Brazilian Intelligence Agency) who for a moment left the shadows of public office to face the glare of the political limelight.

Our supreme private eye was disproved in a matter of hours by representative Roberto Jefferson. After a hot and purifying gargling, the president of the PTB (Brazilian Labor Party) cleared the throat and did in a few minutes what Mark Felt, “the guy called Deep Throat”, had done little by little in that Washington’s underground garage, 33 years ago.

In the long interview Jefferson gave reporter Renata Lo Prete, from Folha de S. Paulo (June 6, pp A1, 4 and 5), the congressman reveals the story of the “mensalão” (the US$ 12,000 monthly allowance) that Lula’s  Workers Party (PT) would have paid last year to representatives of the government’s allied base.

Why did he open the mouth? What led this professional of power to confront the power? In the text of our supreme private eye it is written with all the letters that “Deep-Throat is a person up to his neck in illegalities or motivated by personal feelings of revenge.”

Jefferson, our Little Throat, gave to the Folha what he had promised a week before in the cover story of Veja magazine (issue 1907, June 1, 2005): if he is taken to the defendant’s dock three petistas (PT members) will go with him. He kept his promise with the precision of a Cosa Nostra expert.

Damage Risk

There is no difference between the bomb-man of the PTB and the producers of the Post Office’s bomb-video. They suckled on the Treasury’s nipples and when they dried up or were offered to others, they complained.

From the point of view of the procedures, the Folha‘s feat has more merit than the one of Veja, since the deputy’s accusation – although anticipated with much fanfare – was told to a journalist and elaborated by her. The weekly’s exploit only was possible thanks to the entrepreneur-producers of the impeccable video.

Both render an enormous service to  society when denouncing the respective scandals with the stentorian throats the Almighty gave them. But it’s never too much to remind, recall and go over again that the press as a defender of the public interest should not be servile to thwarted private interests. It might get splattered.

What’s important in this surprising and beneficial juxtaposition of the Watergate Case with the Postal Office/PTB Case is the effort visibly concatenated to demoralize Mark Felt and, at the same time, discourage a tsunami of accusations in the Brazilian public sphere.

The candid text of the general-director of the Abin leaves no doubts; it contains the fingerprints of someone who is not even minimally interested in the multiplication of Deep Throats or Shallow Throats, Hoarse Throats or even Whispering Throats.

The moment disgusted public servants start to reveal or to report – direct or indirectly – what they see or know, the Esplanade of the Ministries collapses. Not even the Abin would be safe from the  revelations smothered, truth be told, for at least two decades.

Controlling Role

That’s why Dr. Lima and Silva disqualifies Mark Felt considering him “rotten apple”  while he sings praises to the system of “rewarded delation”. It is evident that he hates the server-citizen who, for fidelity to his conscience, ignores his professional commitments with the State. The Intelligence’s boss would rather pay the mercenary-snitch because this way he limits and controls the sanitizing process.

In his eagerness to qualify Felt as villain and disqualify the reasons that led him to leak hints to the Woodward-Bernstein duo, the Abin’s director forgets that an autonomous whistle-blower, “outsourced,” called Pedro Collor unveiled to the press the sea mud of the Collor Scheme.

Was it revenge? It was. Was Pedro Collor delirious? He was. Would he have kept quiet if he had been given some perks? Certainly. But thanks to him, to his grief and his singing, the country was freed from a dangerous gang.

Actually, the Abin does not want the press performing the watchdog role it’s supposed to play in a democratic system. It does not want partners, it wants to filter and monitor what it thinks it’s convenient. In other words: it wants the monopoly of the throats. Gargantua wants the silence.

Wrong Evaluations

The Brazilian press can’t resist its hillbilly vocation. They couldn’t avoid the poisonous sting and the perverse little joke. In the revelation of the identity of “Deep Throat” big and small fools insisted on the nonsense that the Washington Post was scooped by Vanity Fair.

Neither the newspaper nor the team of reporters (now reunited after long separation) were interested in breaking the pact they had kept  for more than three decades.

Did the jokers want the secret of the source’s identity to be broken exactly by those who swore to respect it? This kind of scoop urged by the Brazilian media would ruin an impeccable behavior.

Worse were the jokes about Mark Felt’s motivation to become “Deep Throat”. If it were a personal vendetta against the White House the former number 2 of the FBI would not have waited so long to reap the rewards.

If he had interest in the  money he wouldn’t get a cent, because when Watergate was the hottest ticket in town the American press started to openly discuss check-book journalism, which started to proliferate but soon got aborted.

Not even Felt’s idolized mentor, J. Edgar Hoover escaped the wave of taunts. Hoover was described maliciously by  star columnist Elio Gaspari (Globo & Folha, June 5) as a celibate, hiding behind mommy’s skirts, a man who for many years spent the weekends with the same little boy friend. So what?

Alberto Dines, the author, is a journalist, founder and researcher at LABJOR – Laboratório de Estudos Avançados em Jornalismo (Laboratory for Advanced Studies in Journalism) at UNICAMP (University of Campinas) and editor of the Observatório da Imprensa. You can reach him by email at obsimp@ig.com.br.

Translated from the Portuguese by Arlindo Silva.

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