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Je Suis Nassif | Diary of a Witch Hunt

Dilmaotse

Source: GGN.

Background:

All that is left to Globo is crude aggression, and the abuse of its power to sue journalists who dare to speak out against this strategy. –Luis Nassif

Brazilian alt.journalist Luis Nassif — recently convicted in a classic SLAPPP suit of slandering the head of news and sports of the Globo group — remains active while awaiting the results of his appeal.

Today, he denounces a McCarthyist campaign launched recently by Globo against a rival textbook publisher that hearkens back to a similar case in 2007.

In the intervening years, the major media groups have looked with covetous eyes on the education and academic publishing sector, a market that has grown under the policies of inclusion of the federal government, and a very competitive market at that: private schools and universities visibly spend substantial sums on advertising.

Nassif:

The cartelization of the media groups was the first step in a pact negotiated in 2005, a pact whose mentor was the late Roberto Civita, of Editora Abril, based on the model of Rupert Murdoch — the Australian who moved to the United States and defined a hardcore strategy for survival that was later used as a model for other unscrupulous media groups.

The logic of this pact is as simple and crude as the journalism in the Murdoch model. With the rise of the Internet came the greatest challenge ever faced by the media groups — even more than the challenges posed by the advent of radio and TV, because it was much more difficult to regulate the sector. An example was the Law of Concessions, which restrained competition and made sure that established groups received the filet mignon.

***

The Murdoch method consists in creating the climate of a state of war, underwriting a savage McCarthyism that provides cover for the commercial dealings necessary to ensuring the survival of media groups in new markets.

In 2007, as an example of this strategy, a war broke out that few now remember, a war in the market for school books and test preparation courses. The schoolbook market was seen as opening new fronts on the battle of the media groups, following the trail blazed by the Spanish group, Santillana, which controls the Spanish daily El Pais.

El Pais whose Brazilian and other international editions are beginning to get exposure as metrosexual dailies.

***

Abril entered the school book and test prep courses by creating a new deivision that would incorporate the publishing houses, Ática and Scipione, which Abril had acquired in partnership with the French group Vivendi; Globo, meanwhile, tested a partnership with UNO, another arm of Santillana.

***

McCarthyism and the Assault on Competition

In the case of Veja, it worked in partnership with a right-wing Web site created to denounce communist infiltration in the schools. With the site as its source, Veja published a sensationalist report denouncing a competitor in the test prep market.

The report was false, based on statements disproved by the target of the witch hunt, whose responses were not reproduced in the Veja article under the principle of right of reply.

It was up to the blogosphere to disarm the bombshell, denouncing false information and publishing excerpts from history books published by Ática and Scipione that were identical with the analyses condemned in the text produced by the competitor.

Unmasked, the magazine finally published an apology in “Erramos”, a rare occasion in the magazine’s history.

***

The second front involved Ali Kamel, now elevated to the head of news and sports of the Globo network.

On September 18, 2007 Kamel published an op-ed in O Globo — promptly republished by the Estadão — accusing a best-selling collection titled Our Critical History, issued by a national publisher, of containing subversive ideas. The accusations were echoed in other Globo vehicles, from the Época print weekly to the nightly Jornal Nacional on TV.

Kamel accused the book for a supposedly apology for Mao Tse-tung, cherry-picking a passage favorable to Mao:

“He was a great statesman and military leader. He wrote books on politics, philosophy and economics. He loved innumerable women, and women were drawn to him. To many Chinese, Mao remains a great hero. For Chinese anticommunists, however, he was nothing but a dictator.

Kamel simply skips over the passage that criticizes Mao:

“As a head of state, he behaved in a manner similar to Stálin, persecuting oppositionists and using propaganda to create an official image that promoted the idea that he was infallible.

On the Cultural Revolution, Kamel notes the following passage:

“As a socialist experiment it was extremely original. The new proposals were hotly debated. Giant murals, the dazibaos, provided a space for the manifestation of thoughts and criticisms.

But Kamel omits the counterpoint:

“The Great Leap Forward had failed. The result was a terrible epidemic of hunger that decimated thousands. (…) Mao (…) as Stálin did, persecuted his opposition and used propaganda to create an official image that he was infallible.” (p. 191)

“Listening to a tape of Western rock music could lead one to a political reeducation camp. In the university, openings were reserved for those who demonstrated the greatest zeal in political struggles. (…) Older leaders were deposed and humiliated by crowds of adolescent who believed that a person of 60 or 70 no long had a contribution to make.

The Russian revolution was treated in the same way:

“It is well known that the Soviet population did not suffer hunger. Economic development and a fair distribution of income guaranteed housing and food security to every citizen. There was neither inflation nor unemployment. Schools were free and many children of blue-collar workers were able to attend the best universities. (…) Free medicine, rent that cost as much as three packs of cigarrettes, grand cities without children abandoned in shantytowns …

But Kamel hides the critical counterpoint:

“The USSR was a dictatorship. The Communist Party made all the important decisions. Election were nothing but a facade. Critics of the government were imprisoned. Instead of economic efficiency, there was a confused and slow-moving bureaucracy. Thousands and thousands of individuals were sent to forced labor camps in Sibéria, the dreaded Gulags. Many people were tortured to death by Stalinist guards …

On the day following publication of the Kamel article, the daily El País (owner of Santillana), published a similar article, distributed on a global scale and affirming that “the textbook exalts communism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

On the same day, former Ministro Paulo Renato de Souza (during whose term at the Ministry of Education the book was chosen by MEC), said on the Web site of the PSDB that he would file suit with the federal prosecutor to withdraw the book Our Critical History from the market.

On his Web page, the ex-minister discloses that his consulting firm has Santillana among its clients.

***

And so they were able to assassinate a best-selling title. The critical counterpoint provided by the blogosphere, however, led to the abandonment of these strategies, to the relief of rival publishers and authors.

All that is left to Globo is crude aggression, and the abuse of its power to sue journalists who dare to speak out against this strategy.