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Brazilian Net Politics | The R$ 70,000 Grass Roots

Journalist Luis Nassif recently identified an inside source at the Editora Abril — the journalist Marcio Aith — for a 2007 series on spectacular ethical lapses at Veja magazine.

Nassif reports that Aith now works for the state governor as a coordinator of negative propaganda against a substantially smaller, and much less professional,  pro-government blogosphere.

It is no surprise that professional bloggers are hired for their weight in gold by the Alckmin government. They are hired not only by public relations agencies but also by public agencies ad institutions. There are a bunch of them at Sebrae-SP and Fundap.

Nassif says that Aith now works for the São Paulo state governor, in part as the coordinator of negative propaganda against a substantially smaller and less professional, pro-government blogosphere.

It is no surprise that professional bloggers are hired for their weight in gold by the Alckmin government. They are hired not only by public relations agencies but also by public agencies and institutions. There are a whole bunch of them at Sebrae-SP and Fundap.

It was a model originated during the Serra administration by Andrea Matarazzo. Later, it was coordinated by the Subsecretary of Communications, Márcio Aith.

Confronted with this accusation, Geraldo Alckmin will have to decide whether to consolidate his style as that of embracing fair play or to identify the practice as having been inherited from Serra.

It is not worth the time to identify all the pistoleros. What matters is who runs the show.

Aith has worked for a variety of publications, and is known for two characteristics: coming from a prominent family and being extremely ambitious.

Aith was one of the sources that fed me information for the series “The Veja File” (http://migre.me/pwTy7).

Before starting to write the series, I spent some time gathering information about who was who in the implementation of the abject style that had taken taken  ahold of the magazine and its actions in favor of Daniel Dantas.

At first, I thought Mário Sabino was behind it, given what I had heard about his aggressive journalistic style.

Two additional sources changed my point of view. One, an experienced journalist who had worked with Sabino, assured me he was not influential enough to be involved in the major schemes. Another, an aid to Dantas, informed me that the discussion were mediated by Eurípedes Alcântara, the editor in chief, a henchman of Roberto Civita.

I did some preliminary prospecting, publishing posts that poked fun at Eurípedes. He responded with considerable aggression, paying me back in kind.

During a taping of the Roda Viva interview show in which we both took part, Aith approached me upon my arrival. He praised my insight in identifying the role of Euripedes, and told me that he had written articles on ties between André Esteves and Antônio Pallocci, and that during a visit by Esteves to Abril, Euripides put an end to the continuation of this coverage. As it stood, the article was one more warning to Esteves, mention a painter named Roy Linchestein, without providing any other details — in this case, a strategy of Veja’s and not of Aith.

I sensed that he wanted to talk further, so after the taping, I gave him a ride in my car. On the way home he told me of the disputes between Eurípedes and Sabino. At that point, he became my source for “The Veja Affair.”

He told me of the space Euripides was creating for the public relations man Eduardo Fischer, as well as for Balarmino, of Rubayat, in exchange for hiring his wife as an architect.

I did not use this family information, considering it irrelevant and withholding it out of respect for the family of Euripedes – a respect not reciprocated when the dirty tricksters of Veja began attacking my family.

During one of man conversations, Aith told me that Gilberto Dimenstein was a source for Veja’s attacks on me, and that a journalist friend of mine (and an even closer friend to Euripides) had been assigned to discover my source.

As time passed and conversation continued, I discovered that the Sabino group comprised Diogo Mainardi, Reinaldo Azevedo and Aith himself. Sabino answered to José Serra, a conclusion  I arrived at after a hard-hitting conversation with Serra himself.

At that point, all that was missing was for me to become a tool of the internal conflicts at Veja. In the fourth or fifth chapter of my series, I began taking a closer look at Sabino as well.

At this point Aith began to panic. He telephoned me say that the dispute was going well but that my attacks had brought Eurípedes and Sabino together again.

One day, Aith telephoned me and requested that I beat him to a pulp. But why? I was to attack him, and he provided me with five reasons for a post lambasting him. I understood that he had caught the attention of Eurípedes, who suspected he was my source. I agreed to his request. One of the commentaries placed in the post originated from an old friend of his father, who called him a worthy man and lamenting the conduct of the son. Aith then called me back asking me to retract the post.

I recall this incident because, in the law suit Sabino filed against me, one of the plaintiff’s witnesses was Aith himself. Now, the confirmation that he is responsible for financing the defamatory attacks on me on the Internet freed me from the confidentiality of an off the record statement.

Information on the internal conspiracy probably came to the attention of Eurípedes.

A while later, Mainardi was fired from the magazine, and Aith left not long after. After that, it was the turn of Sabino to fall from grace, upon which he took a post at João Rodarte’s CDN. It was then I understood the reasoning of Rodarte, normally an extremely cautious man, for having told me of the effort to bring Esteves and Euripides together. The partnership between him and Sabina was so strong that when the team at CDN practically demanded Sabino’s departure from CDN, based on his agressive treatment of colleagues, he threatened to sue CDN, after having worked there for a handful of days.

At Veja, the only one left was Reinaldo, thanks to his penetration among the extreme right  that had become the loyal readership of Veja, though restricted to the online version.