“Freedom of the press is a higher good that should never be limited. The counterpoint to this freedom is always a matter of responsibility of the mass media, and obviously these media are performing the role of a de facto political opposition, given the profoundly fragile condition of the real opposition. This role of opposition, of investigation, worries the government a great deal” — Maria Judith Brito, ANJ
By: Helena Sthephanowitz
TV Globo’s prime time news broadcast is demonstrating an increasingly shameless anti-popular partisan bias.
In its October 17 edition, it refrained from reporting on the success of a political program that combats one of Brazil’s historic problems: poverty. The Bolsa Familia family subsidy program was awarded an international prize comparable to winning a World Cup for its work in the eradication of poverty.
The World Cup? The story was carried by 52 news outlets, according to a Google News search conducted just now.
The prize was awarded by the most prestigious promoter of social security in the world, the International Social Security Association, which operates in 157 nations. It is a rare honor, for it is awarded only once every three years.
According to the ISSA, the Bolsa Família is a pioneering experiment in poverty reduction and a model for other countries. The importance of the story is such that — as well it should be — it was covered prominently by other TV networks. This is a matter of basic journalism.
The purging of this news from the most significant news broadcast in Brazil comes as no surprise to those who closely observe the editorial line of the Globo organizations. In tune with sectors of the PSDB opposition that belittle the program, the daily O Globo has published a number of articles and editorials against the program.
In the TV news broadcasts, generally speaking, Bolsa Familia has only been covered when some problem arises, as in the recent wave of false rumors that it would be discontinued, provoking a run on the banks by beneficiaries in order to withdraw their benefits. On TV Globo, the criticisms are more sober, but there are plenty of opportunities to devote excessive air time to critics, censoring favorable opinions and significant recognition like this award.
But the partisanship of the Jornal Nacional is not confined to last Tuesday’s act of omission. The broadcast also failed to report on a Vox Populi poll with results unfavorable to opposition candidates, much to the displeasure of the broadcaster’s ownership. The survey showed that the opposition as a whole has contracted with the exclusion of one of the candidacies — Marina Silva (PSB) or Eduardo Campos (PSB) — who can no longer compete simultaneously.
Complicating the situation of the opposition, when Marina is tested as an alternative to Eduardo Campos, she occupies second place, one position higher than Aécio Neves (PSDB), with numbers similar to those she posted previously. The intended votes once held by Campos appear to be migrating to Dilma more than to Marina. In the scenario in which Campos is the candidate, his intended votes are diluted among the other candidates and Campos remains in an uncomfortable third place with about half the votes intended for Aécio Neves. The illusion that Aécio and Campos have risen by several points is explained by statistics: With only three candidates to divide up the cake, the slice of each one is larger than if there were four candidates.
Ah! As through it were not enough to sit through another chapter of the warmed-over soap opera of investigations into the PCC, apparently in order to divert attention from accusations of bribery by Siemens and Alstom of Toucan officials in São Paulo. As a matter of fact, the police blotter dominated the news agenda.
JN did, however, air a story on a bribe paid in Switzerland to a director of the CPTM (the commuter rail authority). Wow! Finally, a bit of news unfavorable to the São Paulo government?
Don’t be so sure. The report winds up sparing the PSDB and Alckmin, and ends with anchorman William Bonner reading a PSDB press release on the matter, in lieu of the traditional “we attempted to question Alckmin, but his public relations aides said he would have no comment.”
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