Source: Blog da Cidadania.
Author: Edu Guimarães
Last Monday, 11 persons were indicted by a federal judge on charges of having taken bribes from the French engineering firm Alstom between 1997 amd 2000. All of them worked for companies owned by the state of São Paulo or were part of the PSDB administration at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.
Among those involved was a political heavy hitter from a party that will celebrate 20 years in power next year over the wealthiest state in the federation: Andrea Matarazzo, currently a city legislator for the PSDB.
The indictment of Matarazzo on corruption charges is a notable event, not only because of his distinguished pedigree but for the public offices he has held over the last 20 years as senior leadership of the PSDB governments.
Matarazzo was state Secretary of Energy and presided over the State Energy Company of São Paulo (CESP) and the Metrô subway authority. He was a federal minister in the cabinet of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, serving as Secretary of Communications of the Presidency. (SECOM)
He also made an impression during the mayoral administrations of José Serra (PSDB) and Gilberto Kassab (PSD). He served as secretaries of Culture, Services, and as Coordinator of the Subprectures. In 2008, Veja magazine called him “the sheriff of São Paulo.”
A small detail: the court has authorized the federal police to use evidence from the Alstom case in its inquiry into bribes paid by the German company Siemens, involving 18 other companies accused of cartel formation in auctions related to the passenger rail sector between 1998 and 2008.
The two European firms have corrupted governments in various countries. In the Siemens case, at least, the company confessed its own misconduct, whose auditors detected the irregularities. In all these countries, the politicians have gone to jail. Alll except Brazil..
This is a scandal of national proportions. Billions of reais are at stake and the accused are important figures in the most important opposition party. So you would think that the media establishment would cover the case in accordance with its genuine public interest.
Even so, of the three major dailies — Folha de São Paulo, Estadão and O Globo — only the São Paulo papers have cleared space on the cover for the story. The Folha and Estadão, however, published headlines written in code, while O Globo ran a miniscule note on an inside page.
O Globo can argue that it is essentially a São Paulo story, and has no relevance for the Rio de Janeiro reader. It would be absurd to assert this, for reasons already cited, but it would at least be a logical argument. But the S. Paulo papers published headlines much worse than Globo’s act of omission.
The Folha and the Estadão ran front page headlines saying that 11 persons wre indicted in the Alstom case.. Neither of them mention the fact that these are persons with connections to the PSDB and that one of them is a senior party leader.
Bitter, I got in touch with the Folha de São Paulo ombudsman Suzana Singer, to obtain her position on this case of journalistic aphasia at the Folha and other papers in this case. After all, her job entails criticism not only of the newspaper where she works, but others as well.
Around 11:00 a.m. on October 1, I left a message with Suzana’s secretary at the Folha, asking her to return my call. She called me one hour later, excactly. We conversed for nearly an hour.
Suzana was attentive and patient. She told me she know who I am and the protests I had made against her employer the FSP, but agreed to talk with me anyway. I should say how praiseworthy I find her democratic spirit and serenity as ombudsman.
I shared several reflections on the partisanship of the press and its posture in relation to accusations that have been made recently by the Blogosphere.
I complained to the ombudsman about accusations by her newspaper and others that blogs such as this one are paid by the government. Or what is worse: they do so without specifying who they mean. I told her I challenge anyone to prove that someone like myself has received a dime from the government, and she admitted that such accusations are to be condemned.
Suzana also acknowledged that it was absurd for Supreme Court justice Gilmar Mendes to compare blogs that supposedly “pressured” the court to the media empires whom he admits also tried to exert pressure.
Another point in which Suzana agreed with me was that it is not the role of the press to pressure anyone. Its role is to inform, not to convince or intervene in situations where its only function is limited to investigate and narrate.
I expressed my disagreement with the Folha headline on the Alstom case. At first, Suzana disagreed, because there is not proof against Matarazzo or the PSDB governments.
I responded that the case is of special journalistic importance: A leading politician indicted amid a scandal involving the government, both facts which were minimized.
Suzana came back with the arguent that the PSDB and the name Andrea Matarazzo were not in the headline on the front page, but were discussed in the accompanying article on the inside page the cover line to which the headline directs the reader.
It was at this point that I managed to get the ombudsman to agree with me: The front-page headlines of the major dailies are an independent journalistic genre in their own right. Many readers only read the headlines of copies on display on newsstands.
Por fim, Suzana não respondeu quando lhe perguntei se achava que caso o partido e o político graúdo envolvidos fossem do PT os jornais também omitiram essa informação nas manchetes, mas tive a impressão de que concordou com a premissa de que não omitiriam.
Por fim, ponderei com a ombudsman que a imprensa brasileira não pode continuar desacreditada como está porque é uma instituição importante demais para tanto.
Lembrei que o mensalão não conseguiu interferir nas eleições do ano passado apesar de fatos espantosos como o Jornal Nacional ter tratado do assunto durante uma edição inteira, sem abordar nenhum outro assunto. E que “todos sabem” que nas vésperas de eleições sempre vem alguma denúncia de última hora da imprensa contra o PT, a tal “bala de prata”.
Suzana não disse nem que sim, nem que não. Mas achei meu argumento eficiente.
Encerramos a conversa em tom amistoso e positivo. Aliás, disse-me que anotou tudo que eu lhe disse. Meu feeling me diz que irá refletir. Sobretudo por eu ter lhe dito que a radicalização política em curso no país lembra a que vi na Venezuela. E que foi causada pela mídia.
Filed under: Brazil