“Calm down, let me answer,” PT presidential candidate says during one of his 64 interruptions.
by Brian Mier
Formed with government support during the military dictatorship, TV Globo has a long history of performing character assassination against Workers Party politicians, as shown in the documentary Beyond Citizen Kane, which Globo worked to censor in Brazil, and in a recent series of reports on Al Jazeera’s program, The Listening Post. As part of election law, however, the nation’s most powerful media corporation is required to give equal coverage to all candidates. Last night, September 14, the network hosted a 27 minute interview with Lula’s replacement candidate Fernando Haddad and, although they did everything they could to make him look bad, it did not go well for them.
I worked as a local producer for this Al Jazeera story on Globo’s role in the coup
News anchors William Bonner and Renata Vasconcellos did their best to derail the candidate, interrupting him a total of 62 times. As Senator Linbergh Farias pointed out in his social media accounts afterwards, this was nearly double the amount of interruptions suffered by all other candidates in their Globo interviews. Haddad, who is a lawyer with a Masters in Economics and PhD in Philosophy, was unphased.
For the first time, in interviewing Haddad, Globo was forced to give airtime to a recent admission by PSDB President Tasso Jeiressati that the PSDB party sabotaged the economy after losing the 2014 presidential elections in order to pave the way for the illegal impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. Millions of Globo viewers across the country also heard, for the first time, Haddad’s defense against the farsical recent corruption allegations that were repeated unchecked in the Guardian. The two prosecutors who filed the charges, he said, violated the law by announcing them within 30 days of an election and are currently under investigation from the Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office for committing election fraud.
At one point, anchorman William Bonner read a long list of PT politicians who he claimed have committed crimes of corruption. Haddad answered that there were problems with the list. “Let’s take one example that everyone knows about,” he said, “Dilma Rousseff. She has never been a defendant on any corruption charges.”
Bonner interrupted, “but she is being investigated. It’s a process. First there are investigations, then someone becomes a defendant, then they are arrested.”
“Globo is also under investigation,” Haddad replied, referring to federal police investigation underway looking into whether the network paid bribes to the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) to get exclusive transmission rights for the World Cup, and allegations that it used offshore back accounts to defraud the government of R$358 million in taxes. He continued, “Globo condemns people in advance. You don’t cover your own legal problems in the same way that you cover those of the PT.”
When asked why he was unable to win the mayoral reelection in São Paulo, which took place 5 weeks after the coup which deposed Dilma Rousseff, Haddad said, “I served as [Education] Minister in the most positively evaluated government in History. The anti-PT climate that was created afterwards, because you repressed what you knew about other political parties, was enormous. Ask anyone today what they think of my successor in the São Paulo mayor’s office [former Brazilian Trump “Apprentice” franchise star João Doria, from PSDB], or what they think of the Michel Temer government. People were persuaded to make mistakes.”
Haddad also criticized the Lava Jato investigation’s near exclusive dependence on plea bargain testimonies to arrest PT politicians such as Lula, pointing out that most of the corrupt businessmen originally arrested have been released from jail, given full asset retention of their bribe money, 80% sentence reduction and transfer to house arrest in exchange for “saying whatever the prosecutors want them to”.
By the end of the interview, Globo’s anchors showed visible signs of frustration. Insult was added to injury when, later in the broadcast, Bonner came back on the air and said, “Let me make a correction. A little while ago, while announcing the results of the latest Datafolha election poll, we said that [in the last week] PT candidate Fernando Haddad “oscillated” from 9-13%. According to Datafolha, since this growth is above the margin of error of 2%, the correct way to say it is that the candidate Fernando Haddad grew.”
Two weeks ago, before Lula was forced to withdraw from the race, Haddad was polling at 4%. Some polls already have Him in front of fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro, while Datafolha, shows him tied for second place.