By: Luis Nassif
The economic journalist and social networker paints, in broad strokes, the media Zeitgeist that led, among many other things, to his recent defeat in a libel suit brought by the director of sports and journalism at the Globo network.
Je ne suis pas Nassif, but I read him daily for a fresh angle on the news. And if I had the man’s talent, I hope that I would demonstrate his courage as well. The following translation is second-draft quality.
In the middle of the last decade, the Olympus of the Brazilian media experienced an invasion by foreign bodies, dinosaurs of the extreme right that had be considered extinct since the end of the Cold War; vociferous and bellicose, attacking other journalists, public figures, and political parties with unprecedented aggression.
Before then, news media might attack other news media, but there were no personal attacks on journalists.
The great shift away from the old model began in 2005, coinciding with the creation of a media cartel led by Roberto Civita, the capo of the Editora Abril publishing house.
Inspired by the Australian-American Rupert Murdoch, the strategy consisted in gathering the major media groups in a war for influence so that they could confront new groups emerging from the new technologies.
Having sealed the pact, the first step was to homogenize the media universe, doing away with [diversity and] the right of [reply and equal time].
Personalities constructed by the media make for powerful agents of influence in all sectors of society, in which victims of these attacks suffer terrible consequences in their personal and professional lives.
It is a power so absolute that one of the worst “punishments” imposed on recalcitrant professionals is the “blacklist,” which prohibits citing the journalist’s name in any other news outlet.
In a competitive media market, however, these idiosyncrasies were surmountable, allowing for a diversity of thought to survive.
The end of the Cold War — in the Brazilian case, the end of the dictatorship and the return of direct elections — produced a cultural universe relatively diversified of personalities: journalists, intellectuals, business executives, artists and celebrities in general. It was an environment that was good for journalism but bad for the political strategies of the native media.
In the United States, the strategy devised by Rupert Murdoch was to create an external foe to replace the former enemies of the Cold War, and to silence independent journalistic voices with disqualifying attacks to prevent the exercise of the right of reply.
The Brazilian strategy was based on the model depicted in the film “Crusader” , known in Brazil as “The Power of the Media” — directed by Bryan Goeres, and starring Andrew McCarthy and Michael York, among others.
It tells the story of a dispute over market share in the telecoms sector in which the owner of the TV network is coopted by one of the combatants. The strategy consisted in taking a mediocre reporter and arming him with a variety of dossiers, turning him into a celebrity. Once that was accomplished, his newfound power was used to further the maneuvers of the owner and his allies.
Here in Brazil the model was tested with a cultural columnist named Diogo Mainardi. Lacking any deep understanding of the political and business world, he was fed dossiers, given the liberty to offend and attack, as well as to involve himself as a protagonist in the disputes of Daniel Dantas relating to the Brazilian telecommunications companies.
When Mainardi’s book was published, the newspapers followed the script and elevated him to the status of a celebrity. The summit of his career was a review in O Estado, comparing him to Carlos Lacerda, as well as a profile in Veja calling him “The Guru of Leblon.”
Mainardi was used and then discarded when he was no longer needed.
The second part of the game was the reconstruction of a media Olympus, with new players willing to play the necessary role and adhere entirely to the strategy of the cartel. Criticism of the government or the opposing party was no longer enough. News media had to align itself with prejudice and intolerance, oozing hatred from all its pores, treating anyone who dared to think differently as an enemy to be destroyed.
Various candidates presented themselves to fill the demand. All of a sudden, good-natured musical producers, unknown in the media world, were transformed into vociferous political columnists and once more enjoyed the media spotlight; lightweight intellectuals made themselves constantly available to repeat the same mantras; comedians received special programs and rock musicians gained exposure by joining in political broadsides.
But the part that is of interest now — among other things, in order to understand the lawsuit moved against me by Globo executive Ali Kamel – was the role played by senior editors with intellectual ambitions.
Armed with a license to kill and tasked with creating a new elite of media celebrities, their ambition reached beyond the power of the media. They believed they themselves could ride the wave, becoming the stars of a new intellectual milieu that the media was trying to forge with crude blows from an axe.
A deal was struck with the Record publishing house and all of a sudden everyone was a thinker and writer. Each book launch was intensively covered by all the other vehicles of the cartel, with reviews in the Folha, O Globo e Estadão and interviews on Globonews and the Jô Soares show.
Over time, the public witnessed one of the most shameful chapters of self-promotion ever, an obscene exchange of praise and favors, knowing no bounds, that pushed the establishment media of Brazil in the direction of the most full-bodied form of provincialism.
The editor of Veja, Mário Sabino, published a novel that received a fawning review from his own magazine, written by one of his subordinates, and news that Record would be launched triumphantly in various countries.
Kamel’s book was lauded by Época magazine, of the very same Globo group, as one of the most important of the decade.
It was left up to the blogosphere to unmask this absurdity, denouncing manipulation by Sabino of the best-seller lists in Veja so that his book could appear in the top ten, and revealing the complete absence of those supposed foreign editions of Sabino’s book on the best-known online bookstore, Amazon.
In the suit he filed against me, one of the points emphasized by Kamel is the fact that I placed on my blog a video of the song “O cordão dos puxa sacos” («The [Carnaval society] of the brown-nosers») to show what I thought of Época‘s choice of the ten most important books of the decade.
Thanks to the democratization brought by social networks, these neo-intellectuals cannot resist exposing their weaknesses.
Kamel has acted in accordance with his role as the all-powerful Globo executive, but restricted his activities to behind the scenes. Sabino abandoned his career of Nobel Prize candidate for literature.
Defeated on the journalistic fields of battle, in the one-on-one of intellectual debate, they appeal to the power of their employers in an attempt to prevail in legal actions based on technicalities — Kamel, Sabino, Mainardi, and Eurípides [Alcântara].
Hiding behind the skirts of the corporations they work for, they provide a perfect portrait of the dimension of a certain type of [company man] when stripped of his armor.
I have discovered the probable cause of my posting problems on WordPress. It seems to have to do with the insertion of media files, especially graphics.
Filed under: Brazil