2021 – media coverage

Clara Figueiredo, series_ Brasília_ fungi and simulacra, super court, 2018


Observing the day-to-day construction of the news, it is possible to identify the movements

The 2021 retrospective from the point of view of media coverage – mainly coverage of the National Journal – is challenging and thought-provoking. Observing the day-to-day construction of the news, it is possible to identify the movements, and they were very interesting

The neoliberal structure of the Brazilian corporate media, of the conglomerates that define the large volume of news and entertainment that circulates throughout the country, is revealed in the dominant agendas, which are quite advanced in terms of identity issues and subjects related to science and knowledge and extremely retrograde with regard to issues of economics and politics. And that's why it's important to see and understand the movements, nuances and changes.

I separated by some thematic points that I consider main in this retrospective. Let's go to them:


Pandemic and government

Already at the beginning of the year, with the Bolsonaro government's debauchery in relation to the vaccine, the tone of journalistic coverage rose a lot. What was seen was the connection between the nightmare of the advance of Covid in Brazil and the lack of action by the federal government.

The idea of ​​health collapse and government incompetence was given, news after news, edition after edition. There was still that tone of incredulity and perhaps of “hope” that Brazil, finally, would not plunge into chaos. Gradually, this gave way to the realization that the government elected in 2018 was a disaster and would not cope with the pandemic.

In this scenario, there was a great deal of space for the pro-vaccine actions of the governor of São Paulo, João Doria. But no space for the leadership of the Northeast Consortium, which created a group to face the pandemic crisis, which was coordinated by Miguel Nicolelis. The selectivity of the corporate media prevailed, and the protagonism of the Northeast did not appear.

The health collapse was constructed as closely linked to the figure of the President of the Republic, that is, the government as a whole was not held accountable. In the edition of National Journal On March 6, for example, Jair received the seal of blame for the Covid tragedy in Brazil – there were more than 30 minutes in the newspaper edition with emotional scenes and first-line actors to show that, if Brazil still did not have enough vaccine and we were sinking into the abyss of the pandemic, there was a culprit, and his name was Jair.

With the installation of the CPI of the pandemic, in April, the media spectacle tried to dimension the size of the Brazilian tragedy and the negligence of the Bolsonaro government, implicated in allegations of corruption involving treatments with the vaccine and the lack of assistance to Brazilians.

It was beautiful coverage to watch – and of course, coverage that, with interesting scripts of denouncements, also guided the testimonies at the CPI.

In June, the week in which Brazil broke the mark of 500 deaths, there was an interesting repositioning of the media. The previous demonstrations, on May 29, were solemnly ignored. But, as of June 19, with the new demonstrations, this changes, and the media begins to cover with almost enthusiasm the mobilizations of Brazilians against Bolsonaro.

A reflection, certainly, of the realization that the country had plunged into darkness, which meant that even the neoliberal agenda was now at great risk with a genocidal and denialist government.


Bolsonaro: we didn't know it was like this

From the second half of the year, the hype that grew and remained among writers in general was that no one expected Bolsonaro to be such a bad president. With everything falling apart, Brazilians eating chicken feet, the technical recession, the GDP falling, the health crisis, in short, the generalized chaos, the best way out for Greeks and media stars was to say that “we didn't know” or “we I couldn't imagine."

In many articles and even reports, journalists and characters from the political world confessed – shamelessly and with a naivety that would make little children at day care envy – their surprise at President Jair's insanity.

As if he had never shown himself to be inconsequential, incompetent, sexist, misogynistic, disrespectful, environmentally abusive, denialist, anti-vaccine…


Moro: fall, rise, fall

In March, with a remarkable vote by Minister Gilmar Mendes, former judge Sergio Moro was considered a suspect to judge the actions related to former President Lula in Lava Jato. At that moment, the National Journal and the media in general promoted a certain distancing in relation to the figure of Bolsonaro's former judge and minister and in relation to Lava Jato.

Apparently, Moro was falling out of favor and all the protagonism in Operation Lava Jato needed to be forgotten – since it seriously implied its own media coverage and the shameful partnership that was established to throw the rule of law to the ground. The duck, I mean, ex-minister, was already living in Washington, so it was easy to pretend he never existed.

But, in November of this year, the former judge and former minister of Jair Bolsonaro (who left the government in April 2020) finally reached the electoral dispute in the open. With his return to Brazil and his affiliation with Podemos, Moro became a candidate. And the media, of course, saw in that movement the long-awaited chance of a third way.

As of November 10, Sergio Moro began to occupy a more than privileged space in the Brazilian media scene. Reports in printed newspapers, interviews, Moro's opinion, evaluation of the former judge, mentions by columnists of Moro's brilliance and strength in the fight against corruption... all of this was shown and reiterated, and even on random subjects some columnist found a way to associate the figure of the former judge of Curitiba.

However, when the universe decides to conspire, it seems that not even media conglomerates can stand up to it. Anyway, none of that helped much. In mid-December, with the release of the Ipec and Datafolha polls on voting intentions, it became more than evident that the marreco from Maringá, I mean, Sergio Moro, would not succeed through the normal channels of the electoral process.

The polls were, in fact, a very cold shower and showed what the media did not want to see: Moro, who removed Lula from the race in 2018, benefiting Jair Bolsonaro, did not succeed. Now, at the end of 2021, we hear about Moro’s “amateurism”, which in a long interview with the newspaper Folha de S. Paul (which is still firm in an attempt to normalize the former judge) recognized, after all, that Lava Jato was really pursuing the PT hehehe. Sincericide...


Lula: silencing and white flag

After nearly seven years of silencing and absence from the media, appearing only with rotting pipes against a red background, President Lula has regained his voice in the media.

In the edition of March 10, when Brazil was once again breaking new records in the number of deaths from Covid, the edition of the National Journal gave ample space to the speech of ex-president Lula, who was finally recovering his political rights – and after almost seven years, the ex-president once again had a positive space for speech, with good highlights, in the edition of the National Journal.

After many years of silencing and always very negative clippings, Lula's speech and his power were placed in prime time for all of Brazil. It was almost 12 minutes of direct speech for Lula, without rotten pipes and red background. Never before...

But after that first moment of recovery at the beginning of the year, with Lula free and on the rise – research was beginning to be done and showed the power of Lindu’s son – what was seen was the old practice of silencing back, culminating in the meager, not to say ridiculous, coverage of the ex-president's trip to Europe, almost with honors and the agenda of a head of state, in November.

Only after a few days and important meetings with relevant leaders in the world and Lula receiving a standing ovation in two very expressive institutions in Europe and the world (the European Parliament, in Belgium, and the Institute of Political Studies, Sciences PO , from Paris) is that the subject deserved some media attention and finally appeared in the National Journal.

Lula's agenda in Europe included meetings with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, the future German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, the former Prime Minister of Spain José Luís Zapatero, the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001, Joseph Stiglitz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, former French President François Hollande. In addition to participating in the aforementioned events and institutions.

In other words, it was an agenda for the Head of State and should, therefore, be of interest as an agenda for the main newspapers and television news programs in Brazil. Especially at a time when the country has a terrible image abroad thanks to Jair, the inedible.

But despite all this, in National Journal, only the meeting with Macron had any mention, and at a very poor time. The edition devoted 36 seconds to the event, also referring to the award received by Lula.

And then, after the most recent electoral polls – Ipec and Datafolha – showed that Lula could win in the first round and the consolidation of general chaos in Brazil, the former president returns to the media scene. Especially when he puts on the agenda a possible alliance with the now ex-toucan Geraldo Alckimin, who could be his runner-up on the ticket.

In December, the meeting between Lula and Alckmin was featured on the cover of the main newspapers and television news in the country. After leaving prison, having proved his innocence, having almost 50% of the voting intentions, having toured Europe worthy of a head of state, Lula then finally appeared on the covers of Brazilian newspapers, on television news, being alongside the ex-toucan Geraldo.

Which only confirms and reiterates the modus operandi of the Brazilian corporate press and his appreciation for the toucans. But it also shows Luiz Inácio's very impressive ability to impose his agenda and put himself on the cover, on stage.

The game is being played, many emotions await us. But it seems to me that the press is putting down its weapons for the time being and realigning itself in relation to Lula.


economy without crisis

In the media, the idea of ​​an economic crisis did not appear. We saw, in various reports, uncontrolled and rising inflation, the abusive high of prices, unemployment that did not retreat, the significant drop in worker income, the basic basket becoming unreachable, the unreal increases in oil, gasoline, gas of kitchen.

All this appeared, it is true. And it showed up a lot. But these contexts, these data, these scenarios appeared in a pulverized way, separately – subject by subject.

That is, without any connection between them, without consolidating a perspective of economic crisis, they were pulverized subjects, treated separately, without composing a worrying whole.

In 2021, when we have the serious picture of a technical recession, falling GDP, very high unemployment, the media did not consolidate the perception of an economic crisis, as it did from 2014/2015, in the Dilma Rousseff government.

The idea of ​​a generalized crisis magically disappeared, and the versal “economic crisis” did not appear in the Brazilian media in 2021.

And in this scenario, the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, was constantly and fully armored. He did not appear on the news when the bad economic news was announced – it even seemed that there was no such ministry.

Guedes was only heard in a few situations, almost like a consultant talking about an external problem – the problem was never his.

The economic misfortune continued to be painted in happy colors by the media – I repeat, the idea of ​​a generalized crisis was not given. It was and was a muted economic picture – with hints of problems here and there, but without establishing the necessary connections for people to understand that the hole was and is gigantic.

On the other hand, the shielding of Paulo Guedes remained firm, and this behavior did not change even in the episode of the scandal of the offshore.

The media deliberately hid the information that the Minister of Economy's decisions affect his business in the tax haven, that article 5 of the Code of Conduct of the High Federal Administration prohibits high-ranking officials from keeping financial investments likely to be affected by government policies , that Paulo Guedes could have profited a lot from the high dollar.

It was an indecorous armor, because Minister Paulo Guedes, just to remind you, commands a portfolio that encompassed the former portfolios of Finance, Planning and Foreign Trade, that is, it is a super Ministry. And his actions directly impact the variation of the dollar, for example. But none of this scandalized the Brazilian media.


historical deletion

Another very interesting phenomenon to observe in the media coverage this year was the historical erasure, or an interesting silencing in the coverage of some themes.

Suddenly, no more than suddenly, a decade and a half of Brazilian history does not appear, does not exist for the approach (and above all the comparison) relative to great themes that refer to social and economic conquests.

Thus, issues such as unemployment, increased income, family consumption, inflation, leisure habits, vaccination coverage have a priority approach from 1500 to 2003 and from 2015/16 to the present day.

But nothing appears about the period 2003 to 2014. Interesting, isn't it? It seems that all of Brazil has been abducted for over a decade. What country was that?

When people say that hunger is back, families are eating chicken feet, inflation is eating away at the basic food basket… traditionally it is necessary to make a comparison so that people really understand the movement – ​​if it is like this now, has it ever been different? How and why? That does not exist.

If Brazil returned to the Hunger Map, when did it leave? How was it before? What did people eat in 2014? Did they travel? How was the dollar? What about gasoline?

The period from 2003 to early 2015 is a period that is being deliberately erased from Brazilian history by the media.

And another conduct that was quite curious and interesting to observe is related to the approach to the huge setbacks caused by Bolsonaro in the country. In several editions, the National Journal has shown these setbacks in a very effusive way. But they have no connection with history, with the political movement.

When we speak of retrogression, it is necessary to say in relation to what this retrogression was or is.

Simply put: if there is a setback, it is because in another time it was better, it was different. What time was this? Which governments? Who were the ministers? Therefore, it would be necessary to show in the report what it was like before and why it was like that.

Finally, to close this year that has changed the rest of our lives, I would like to say that a speech cannot be made without showing the historical links.

It is essential to understand the movements of history in order to understand the movements of today, in order to understand the hole in which the country was plunged. Pure numbers say nothing – they need to be connected, connected, they need to be interpreted… Observing and making all the connections, we see how the press wraps rotten fish in golden bags to sell to us. And how he changes his posture when it's convenient.

And precisely for this reason, let us continue to unveil and lay bare these strategies, let 2022 come.

*Eliara Santana is a journalist and holds a PhD in linguistics from PUC-MG.

Originally published on the website Viomundo.


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