Veja magazine, March 2002: “The Dossier Wars: Politicians and spies have set up a slander industry in Brazil.” Right: And Veja has evolved into that industry’s Yoyodyne. Ask Veja about the work that Jairo Martins later did for it (and testified to a congressional committee about).
Luis Nassif is a Brazilian business journalist who runs a business news agency called Dinheiro Vivo — not a hugely successful one, apparently, but one that has survived for a number of years. He also writes a syndicated column for the local Diário do Grande ABC, and appears as a (fairly run of the mill, but competent enough) economics pundit on São Paulo’s TV Cultura.
I believe he also comments for Canal Rural (a very interesting business news channel for hicks from the sticks who grow stuff; I enjoy watching it.)
Nassif has been publishing a series of articles on the state of journalistic malpractice at Veja magazine (Grupo Abril) — the opening salvo I translated as Nassif the Thief: “Editor-Shill Bodes Ill for Abril” — as a continuation of a book released in 2000 titled something like Brazilian Journalism in the 1990s. Interesting book. You can download a proof in PDF format for free from his Web site.
He claims to have been the victim of a filthy smear campaign as a result of his criticisms.
This is an entirely plausible claim, I think.
Veja, for example, lost a civil libel suit last year over a report in which it claimed that a rival publication (circulation 75,000, compared with Veja’s self-reported 4 million) benefited from favoritism in government advertising in exchange for coverage favoring the current federal government’s policies.
Veja “designated blogger” Reinaldo Azevedo was the editor of [the failed] Primeira Leitura, which was subjected to similar accusations in the Nossa Caixa affair, involving alleged that government advertising buys deliberately favored publications controlled by political cronies of the Alckmin governorship.
(PL was founded published by the Minister of Communications of the Cardoso administration, Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barro, who advised the Alckmin presidential campaign on economic policy.)
Whether true or not, who knows? The affair was never fully investigated.
In any event, in the civil suit, Veja was found to have reported a nonexistent fact with actual malice — and, in fact, to have received more federal government advertising in some of its issues than the rival magazine did.
Veja lies. This is a conclusion I have come to on my own, and I have talked to quite a few journalists here who say the same thing (albeit in whispers.) Its approach to the reputational risks presented by getting caught lying tends to be to distract attention from the beam in its own eye to alleged motes in the eyes of its critics. See, for example:
I have been translating chapters of the Nassif Brief on Veja because I have been reading the thing with a critical eye for some years now myself, and have reached similar conclusions. The content that comes down the pipeline is not fit for human consumption, marketed under the rubric of “toxic sludge is good for you.”
Which is why I no longer read it. And I think Nassif is really onto something when he refers to Veja journalism as “an attempt to import the neocon style [from the U.S.]”
When the Jack Abramoff, Tom De Lay, and “Scooter” Libby affairs were making headlines, for example, the likes of George Will published innumerable columns screaming that the opposition party was “corrupt.”
It is the “I am rubber and you are glue” school of crisis communications. If it seems infantile, that is because the magazine views its readership that way, and does its damnedest to further infantilize it with moral panic over phantom menaces and other fairy tales.
Antes de começar a série sobre Veja, minha primeira providência foi informar (aqui) sobre renegociação da dívida da minha empresa com o BNDES – em cima de um financiamento contratado na década passada.
Before I began my series on Veja, the first precaution I took was to disclose ([URL]) my renegotiation of my company’s debt with the Brazilian Development Bank [BNDES] with respect to a financing contract signed in the 1990s.
Imaginem se a seguinte situação é verossímil: o BNDES perdoa parte relevante da dívida, um escândalo para ninguém botar defeito, capaz de atrair as atenções do TCU, Ministério Público e companhia. Com essa tremenda vulnerabilidade, inicio uma série contra o esquema mais barra-pesada que a imprensa conheceu, o da revista Veja. Aí, em um assomo de insanidade, antes de começar a série informo, através do Blog, que renegociei a minha dívida. Ou seja, jogo um farol em cima de um suposto ilícito. Começo a série, a revista vai atrás da tal renegociação e não dá uma matéria sequer.
Ask yourself if the following scenario makes any sense: BNDES forgives a significant portion of that debt, which would be an unquestionable scandal liable to attract the attention of the federal prosecutor, the federal independent auditor, and so on. Despite that tremendous vulnerability, I embark on a serious denouncing the most hardcore scheme the Brazilian press has ever known, the game being run at Veja magazine. Then, in a fit of insanity, before I start this series, I disclose on my blog that I have renegotiated my debts. That is to say, I shine a spotlight on supposedly illicit dealings of mine. I start publishing the series, the magazine goes after this renegotiation, but never publishes an article about it.
Como interpretar tudo isso? É fácil: essa denúncia do tal “perdão” da dívida é falsa.
How to interpret all this? Easy: The charge that the debt was “forgiven” is false.
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