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Veja, The Senator & My Belief in Nassif

In Brasilianas, journalist Luis Nassif fires another quixotic broadside at his target of choice, Veja magazine — one of Brazil’s premiere newsweeklies, in circulation if not in epistemological lucidity.

He does so despite the remarkable volume of SLAPP suits he has endured for doing so.

From time to time, I have done Nassif the small favor — I hope he sees it that way — of translating portions of his close readings of this locomotive of rumor, slander and informal fallacy.  From what I can see, the man has gone to great lengths to ensure that his arguments check out.

The chickens are coming home to roost with the current scandal over the involvement of a rightist federal senator and a leading racketeer, known colorfully as Charlie Waterfall.

Veja has sought to anticipate this criticism by running the transcript of a federal police wiretap in which numbers racketeer Carlinhos Cachoeira and the intelligence expert Jairo discuss Policarpo.

It points to a hand-picked phrase  – ” Policarpo will never be our man” – to illustrate the Veja editor’s alleged independence from their lobbying group.

This obviously does nothing to relieve Veja of the pressure, however. Yes, Policarpo was not, in fact, Carlinhos Cachoeira’s man at Veja. He took orders from Roberto Civita and as such was the linchpin of a criminal conspiracy linking Cachoeira to the magazine’s ownership.

There will be do way of denying this collusion, not even if it comes to making Policarpo or Jairo or this Dadá fellow take the fall for it. The deal was entered into by the men in charge: Roberto Civita of Abril, and Cachoeira on behalf of his business group.

[ …]

As Cachoeira says in the transcript, “When I talk to you it is because we have to work as a group. Whatever happens, if he asks for information, you have to pass me the information, get me?”

The conservation transcribed below reflects nothing more than minor tiffs between subordinates, Jairo and Policarpo.

The following elements are evidence of the criminal partnership.

The modus operandi is clear.

Cachoeira got Demóstenes Torres elected. Veja raised him to the status of a great political leader. Demóstenes availed  himself of the reputation created by the magzine to furnish both groups with political favors.

Torres lobbied on behalf of Cachoeira, as the wiretaps already published clearly show.

On behalf of Veja, he backed up the accusations raised by Cachoeira.

Both parties received tangible benefits. Cachoeira was successful in overthrowing political adversaries, quashing investigations and intimidating the government, thanks to the power to fabricate scandal from factoids run in the pages of Veja.

The magazine for its part realized gains in circulation, terrorized the public sector, and played any number of political games. The frernetic pace of these accusations — false, truthy or true, it mattered not — made it the leader of a trend toward cartelization of the media sector in recent years.

This power has its benefits both direct and indirect. The magzine initimidates all parties — from advertisers to government agences.

An example of the criminal abuse of this power was Operation Satyagraha,  with attacks and dossiers produced by the magazine against a Supreme Court justice who voted against Daniel Dantas, as well as journalists who dared denounce his dealings.

In my essay“The Veja Affair,” in the chapter “The Reporter and the Spy,” I narrate in detail, based on official documents, how the two organizations conspired to help Cachoeira drive out a rival faction inside the federal postal service and assume the corruption scheme it maintained there until the federal police stepped in.

It also shows how Veja went easy on its partner when the federal operation went down.

Civita can never say with a straight face that he knew nothing of this matter, because my series on the magazine was the basis for five civil suits against me by Abril — a sign that he read me carefully.

The transcripts published just recently by Veja show how the deal was struck …

«Cachoeira: This guy is not going to do a favor for you, not even as a one-time thing, right? We have to work with him in a group, because we are the ones feeding  Policarpo his scoops, you know. Every single one, we gave him. So here’s the thing: when there is no leader we have to cooperate. “Here it is, he wants it, how do we work it?” See what I mean?»

Since 2008 – when I wrote that chapter – the criminal conspiracy between the racketeer and the magazine have been well known. In defending Policarpo now, the magazine is essentially turning him into a whipping boy. He was not Cachoeira’s partner in this scheme. Roberto Civita was.

In London, Rupert Murdoch’s newpaper is on trial for undue reliance on police sources in the furtherance of sensationalist news coverage. Here in Brazil, Civita’s magazine has made common cause with organized crime.

If the federal prosecutor or the courts lack the courage to get to the bottom of this affair, I suggest they simply lock up Brazil and hand these two men the keys on their way out.

Critics will say that journalists are misusing anonymously sourced leaks to undermine the Senator’s defense, as the Jornal do Brasil did in an editorial last week. All I will say is that so far, Nassif has proven worthy of belief. His story checks out, and there is no credible counterpoint apart from the usual changing of the subject while filibustering wildly.