“We Are All Prostitutes”: Mainardi x Nassif


Click to zoom. The Grupo Abril’s Veja magazine covers the iPhone, January 2007: “It’s like magic!” Photocredit: Fotoagência NMM(-TV)SNB(B)CNN(P)BS-Tabajara. That is to say, I snapped it at the local padaria myself.

“We are all prostitutes. Everyone has his price” — The Pop Group, ca. 1979

Some background notes gathered while producing the hottest Tupi-American co-production of the year:

O caso Mainardi: Business journalist Luis Nassif responds to charges by Diogo Mainardi — the flap dates to August 2005 — that Nassif provided fawningly favorable coverage in exchange for advertising on a Web site he ran.

I read Nassif regularly. He preaches the gospel of good old-fashioned University of Missouri “service journalism” down here in the tropical jungles. And does it well, too, I find. You can learn stuff from reading the guy. (He also writes the local version of Calvin Trillin “deadline poetry,” which I get a kick out of.)

Mainardi in a later column, charged CartaCapital publisher Mino Carta of writing constantly in defense of the current government — despite such substantially reported cover stories as “The Dark Side of the PT” and constant dissidence on macroeconomic policy issues that are way above my head — in exchange for government advertising subsidies.

This is a dynamic you do observe at work in many Latin American nations. See, for example

Possibly the worst case being the utter corruption of the Peruvian news media under Fujimori, by the infamous Vlademir Montesinos. See

Examples can be multiplied.

Carta sued Mainardi for libel. And won. Based on Mainardi’s assertion of nonexistent facts. Pointing out that Veja, Mainardi’s employer, received more government advertising pages than CartaCapital had, in some issues.

Mainardi often claims that the government withholds ad buys from publications that displease it and touts Veja as a pillar of noble, suffering Emersonian-Ayn Randy economic self-sufficiency. (The Grupo Abril had to solve a reported debt crisis last year by selling a substantial stake to Naspers of South Africa.) See

Mainardi wrote (Aug. 17, 2005):

Além da coluna na Folha de S.Paulo, Nassif tem também um site de notícias, que foi financiado com empréstimos do BNDES. Um dos patrocinadores do site é o próprio BNDES, coincidentemente o maior acionista da Telemar, concorrente direta de Dantas. Não surpreende que um paladino da ética como Nassif tenha defendido a compra, por parte da Telemar, da produtora de fundo de quintal do filho de Lula, Fábio Luís. Outro importante patrocinador do site de Nassif é a Odebrecht, cujo fundador mereceu um panegírico apaixonado numa coluna recente. Nassif me deu uma lição de ética.

Besides his column in the Folha de S. Paulo, Nassif also has a news Web site, financed with loans from the federal development bank, BNDES. One of his sponsors is BNDES itself, which coincidentally happens to be the majority shareholder in Telemar, a direct competitor of Daniel Dantas. It does not surprises me that a white knight of ethics like Nassif would have defended the purchase, by Telemar, of the backyard production companion of Lula’s son, Fábio Luís. Another important sponsor of the site is Odebrecht, whose founder receives a passionate panegyric in a recent column. Nassif has taught me a lesson in ethics.

Luís Nassif responde a Diogo Mainardi. Da Folha de S. Paulo, 16/8/2005

Nassif shoots back:

Em relação à coluna de Diogo Mainardi na “Veja”:

With respect to Mainadi’s column in Veja:

1) A Agência Dinheiro Vivo é minha e existe há 17 anos. Tem newsletter, site, um caderno de finanças pessoais com cerca de 100 mil exemplares, serviço em tempo real, programa de televisão, além de promover seminários sobre temas brasileiros e editar newsletters para terceiros.

The Dinheiro Vivo news agency belongs to me and has existed for 17 years. It has a newsletter, a Web site, and personal finance section that moves 100,000 copies, real-time service, a TV program, and also promotes seminars on Brazilian affairs and publishes newsletters for third parties.

2) Suas fontes de receita são assinaturas, publicidade e patrocínios. Todos os contratos são públicos, com menção ao patrocinador. Neste ano, a DV foi incluída pela DPZ no plano de mídia do BNDES, ao lado de dezenas de veículos de todos os tamanhos e de todas as partes do país -jornais, revistas, sites, rádio e TV, que têm como foco o cliente empresarial. Foi apenas um mês de patrocínio.

Its revenue sources are subscriptions, advertising and sponsorship. All those contracts are made public, with mention of the sponsor. This year, the agency was included by DPZ in the media plan of BNDES, like dozens of other publications and outlets of all sizes, all over Brazil — newspapers, magazines, Web sites, radio and TV stations — that focus on a business readership. We received a one-month sponsorship.

3) Nos últimos três anos, não escrevi uma coluna sequer sobre o anunciante do site, que, segundo Mainardi, teria merecido um panegírico de minha parte. É só conferir o arquivo da Folha que está disponível na internet.

In the last three years, I have not written a single column about the advertiser on our site who, according to Mainardi, supposedly received glowing praise from me. You need only look at the Folha archives on the Internet.

Subscribers only.

Mainardi may have been thinking of Leonardo Attuch of IstoÉ Dinheiro, who wrote a book-length hagiography of the founder of one Brazilian construction empire, I think.

Ah, yes, it was Quebra de Contrato: o Pesadelo dos Brasileiros.

Co-authored with the CEO of Mendes Jr.

The public-works contractor accused by Veja magazine of paying the expenses of Renan “The Sex Senator” Calheiros.

Attuch co-authored a book with an executive in an industry he covers as a journalist.

Good grief. On Attuch, see also

See also his “The Odebrecht Empire,” also in ID. The date is hidden by one of those stupid expanding Flash ads that fail to roll back up, covering up the text. Grrr.

Attuch is also the author of Saddam: Friend to Brazil.

4) Acusa-me de ter copiado um texto da internet, de Luiz Demarco -inimigo de Dantas e que o está processando, entre outras coisas, por apropriação de e-mails-, pelo fato de ter incorrido no mesmo erro de grafia do nome de um executivo da Portugal Telecom. Assim como jornalistas da Folha, da “Veja”, do “Globo”, da “Carta Capital”, recebo periodicamente e-mails de Demarco. Nessa coluna, em especial, utilizei informações enviadas por ele, mas por meio de um e-mail pessoal, não de uma lista. As informações foram checadas por mim em entrevista com o próprio executivo da Portugal Telecom, não foram rebatidas pelo Opportunity, e a coluna saiu na frente com elas. Se Mainardi tem o e-mail pessoal, seria interessante sua fonte revelar como o obteve.

He accuses me of having copied a text from the Internet by Luiz Demarco — an enemy of Dantas, whom he is suing among other things, for intercepting his e-mails — based on the fact that I made the same spelling error in the name of a Portugal Telecom executive.

Demarco won that suit, first in the Caymans, then in the United Kingdom. Dantas and his sister were found by periwigged law lords to have forged documentary evidence and perjured themselves.

Like journos at the Folha, Veja, O Globo, and Carta Capital, I occasionally get e-mails from Demarco. For that column in particular I used information he sent me in a personal e-mail, not from a message posted to a mailing list. The information was corroborated by me during an interview with the PorT executive in question, were not rebutted by Opportunity, and the column went ahead and published them. If Mainardi has access to my personal e-mail, it would be interesting to know how he came by it.

5) Além de não ser verdade, também não tem lógica o argumento de que defendi o investimento da Telemar na empresa do filho de Lula e critiquei o Opportunity pelo fato de o BNDES ser sócio da Telemar, que é “adversária de Dantas”. O BNDES não participa do bloco de controle e não tem nenhuma ingerência nas decisões de investimento da Telemar. Pelo contrário, o Opportunity é sócio no capital e em muitos negócios da Telemar, alguns profundamente nebulosos.

Aside from being in true untrue, it also makes no sense to say that I defended the investment by Telemar in the business owned by Lula’s son, while criticizing Opportunity over the fact that BNDES is a partner of Telemar’s, who is an “adversary of Dantas.” BNDES does not have a stake in the controlling bloc of shares and has no influence over Telemar’s investment decisions. On the contrary, Opportunity has an equity stake in, and does many deals with, Telemar, some of them deeply murky.

6) Mainardi é um dos inúmeros personagens parajornalísticos que existem na mídia. Não são jornalistas, não se assumem como tal, seu papel é provocar e divertir. Em quase todas as publicações, há limites a serem obedecidos pelos showmen, de deixar clara a galhofa, de não enveredar pelo caminho da injúria e da difamação. Os riscos de ultrapassar esses limites não são apenas para as vítimas, mas para as próprias publicações. Daí a necessidade de filtros que impeçam as extrapolações.

Mainardi is one of countless parajournalistic personalities in our media. They are not journaists, and they do not claim be; their role is to provoke and entertain. In almost every publication, such showmen need to observe some limits, to make it clear that they are kidding, to avoid going down the road of libel and defamation. The risks of crossing that line affect not only the victims, but to the publications themselves. Hence the need for editorial filters that prevent wild speculation.

7) Explico na prática. Há duas semanas chamei a atenção da CPI para o fato de que a maior parte do dinheiro das agências de Marcos Valério (e de Duda Mendonça) provinha de contratos de publicidade com empresas de Daniel Dantas. O banqueiro manifestou sua irritação, inclusive em cartas à Folha. Na mesma edição em que Mainardi me ataca e também procura vitimizar Dantas, há duas notas no “Radar” que atacam os fundos de pensão pelos gastos com advogados (contratados para defendê-los de Daniel Dantas) e um encarte publicitário de seis páginas da Telemig Celular e da Amazônia Celular – que chama a atenção pelo fato de empresas de atuação regional gastarem pesadamente em uma publicação de circulação nacional, ambas serem controladas por Daniel Dantas e a veiculação ter sido exclusiva na “Veja”.

I shall explain the procedure to you. Two weeks ago I called the attention of the CPI to the fact that a major portion of earnings of the ad agencies owned by Marcos Valério (and Duda Mendonça) came from advertising contracts with companies controlled by Daniel Dantas. The banker made his irritation clear, including the dispatching of letters to the Folha. In the same edition in which Mainardi attacks me, and also seeks to make Dantas out as a victim, there are two notes in the “Radar” section that attack the pension funds for their spending on lawyers (hired to defend them from Dantas) and six ad pages from Telemig Cellular and Amazônia Cellular — which call attention to themselves for the fact that regional telecom operating companies, both of which belong to Dantas, are buying ads in volume from a national publication, and both ads ran only in Veja.

8 ) O que me impede de estabelecer uma correlação entre os três eventos e supor que estou sendo vítima de uma armação para tentar anular críticas que venho fazendo ao Opportunity? Apenas uma coisa: o de trabalhar dentro de princípios jornalísticos, cujo fim Mainardi decreta em sua última crônica. E esses princípios me indicam que o episódio em questão parece muito mais um caso de falta de gestão editorial da revista sobre seus colaboradores do que uma armação.

What is to prevent me from correlating those three facts and concluding that I am the victim of a set-up to try to undermine the criticisms I have been making of Opportunity? One thing: the fact that I work according to the principles of journalistic ethics, the death of which Mainardi announces in his latest column. Those principles tell me that the episode in question looks much more like a failure of the magazine to manage its employees than a deliberate set-up.

O site da Dinheiro Vivo ficou fora do ar ontem devido à ação de hackers, em razão da coluna de Mainardi.

The DV Web site went down yesterday due to a hacking attack because of Mainardi’s column.

I gather he knows that because they had defaced it with language alluding to that article. He should say so.

The hackers who 0wned the Caros Amigos reader community on Orkut, for example, wrote things like VEJA MAGAZINE IS THE BEST MAGAZINE IN BRAZIL!

IT’S LIKE MAGIC!

Veja magazine: We cannot help it if our fans behave like thugs.

See

The latter defacement is a reference to Veja‘s cover story on the iPhone: see also

The problem with viral marketing of this type, of course, is that you can get sick from it yourself.

As competent drug dealers will tell you: Do not be smoking your own crack.

I hate to say it, but CartaCapital is just about the only newsweekly consistently worth reading around here. It’s a shame, because it is far from being the only newsweekly you need to read.

It has modest resources, first of all, which means that it really cannot serve as an omnibus of Brazilian hard business news of the kind you would like to have. Its editorial mission is admirable, coherent, and well-executed. Its writing and reporting are very often exemplary.

Its cast of columnists are a talented bunch, almost always worth reading. Even the sports columnist, and I am not a big sports fan. I especially like Maierovitch and Thomaz Woods.

But it’s not enough, not by a long shot, for a hardcore business-news junky. There are some excellent little trade publications cropping up now, however, in the “service journalism” mode, that fill in some of the gaps.

But they struggle financially and are subjected to gabbling ratfinks just like this.

The most outrageous case I have seen:

See also

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