Sex Senator and Spy! O Globo Cribs Veja

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“Battle of the network stars!” (loose translation): “On the screen and behind the music.” Also in this issue: “Exclusive! Passages from an unpublished biography of [Record owner] Edir Macedo.” “Blackmail: Now Renan is spying on colleagues.” “Cell phones, satellite, WiFi, TV, radio: is all that radiation bad for your health?” “The valley of happiness: Where houses need no walls and corruption is zero.” Also in this issue: How to protect your brain with a homemade tinfoil hat!

Few writers need to be reminded that we seek and publish a response from anyone criticized in our pages. But when the criticism is serious, we have a special obligation to describe the scope of the accusation and let the subject respond in detail. No subject should be taken by surprise when the paper appears, or feel that there was no chance to respond. –New York Times, Guidelines on Integrity.

Tuma vai investigar se Renan espionava adversários: The story is bylined to both the O Globo daily and the TV Globo prime-time newscast, Jornal Nacional.

BRASÍLIA – O corregedor do Senado, Romeu Tuma (DEM-SP), anunciou neste sábado que vai abrir investigação preliminar para apurar se o presidente do Senado, Renan Calheiros (PMDB-AL), estava espionando ilegalmente adversários políticos. O ex-senador Francisco Escórcio, assessor de Renan, negou qualquer envolvimento no suposto esquema.

The corregedor of the Senate, Romeu Tuma (Democrat [ex-PFL] of São Paulo) announced on Saturday that he will open a preliminary investigation to look into charges that the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros (PMDB of Alagoas) was illegally spying on political adversaries. Former senator Escórcio, an aide to Calheiros, denied any involvement in the alleged scheme.

Tuma is a former head of the Federal Police and agent of the DOPS political police under the military dictatorship [although last I checked his Wikipedia biography did not mention the latter fact at all.] His son, a delegado in the São Paulo state judicial police, was recently named by Squid and Genro of the PT to an undersecretarial post in the Ministry of Justice.

“Putting competent people in technical posts,” they say this represents. I tend to believe it, too, for what my gringo opinion is worth.

Tuma successfully sued IstoÉ magazine in 2006 over a 2000 story suggesting his involvement with a scheme to skim money out of the construction of a São Paulo courthouse — an affair in which a senior judge, Nicolau, was convicted and imprisoned. Serra of the PSDB had threatened to sue them over insinuations about his supposed involvement in the Banestado affair.

Apparently, contrary to Mainardi, the PSDB bites, too, when nonexistent facts are asserted about it.

And indeed, when an IstoÉ cover story depicted José Serra as implicated in the “bloodsuckers” mafia scandal — skimming off the budgets for a federal ambulance procurement subsidy — they quickly backed off any suggestion of his complicity. A congressional probe later cleared him of knowing about the budget earmarking and overbilling scheme. I looked at the report a little. Mrs. NMM, a hybrid petista-Green voter, still says nice things about Serra as health minister. Go figure.)

(I am starting to entertain this half-assed theory according to which Istoè is sort of a relatively kinder, gentler Veja of the PMDB — which is sort of like the PRI of Brazil. Kinder and gentler because IstoÉ often does things that Veja pointedly refuses to do, such as following up on its own reporting on a story, sourcing its statements, backing its factual assertions, offering the right of reply, and issuing corrections when it is wrong. But it pushes the line a lot, too.

Not sure how far the analogy goes, but some of the similarities between PAN and the PSDB-PFL coaltion in the last elections I thought were striking. Such as a certain notable familiarity with the wit and wisdom of Dick Morris.)

A denúncia foi antecipada pelo Blog do Noblat e publicada na edição desta semana da revista “Veja”. Na mira dos arapongas estariam os senadores Demóstenes Torres (DEM-GO) e Marconi Perillo (PSDB-GO).

The story about the charge being brought was previewed on the blog of [Globo’s] Ricardo Noblat and publishes in this week’s Veja magazine. The spies allegedly targeted Sen. Demóstenes Torres [DEM-Goiás] and Marconi Perillo [DEM-Goiás].

The “spies” allegedly approached a former senator who owns a hangar for corporate jets in Brasilia about the possibility of his helping them to spy on Torres and Perillo.

This story does not report on the details of the charges as made until well below the fold, and does not quote the actual words of the accusers as they accuse, preferring to focus on their expressions of indignation and their finger-waggling demands that heads must roll!

You cannot fact-check an emotion based on indignation over an alleged possibility.

– Se for comprovada a denúncia, é intolerável espionagem contra um senador e inconcebível a violação da intimidade de qualquer pessoa. É assustadora a velocidade com que denúncias atingem o Senado. Todas devem ser apuradas com rigor – declarou Tuma, em visita ao Uruguai, referindo-se também a outra denúncia da “Veja”, de que o senador Romero Jucá seria o controlador de duas emissoras por meio de laranjas.

“If the charge is proven, espionage against a Senator is intolerable, just as the violation of anyone’s privacy is inconceivable. It is amazing how fast the accusations fly in the Senate. All of them have to be looked into rigorously,” said Tuma, during a visit to Uruguay, referring as well to another charge made by Veja, according to which Senator Romero Jucá allegedly controls two broadcasters using fronts.

According to a study by the president of a subcommittee in the lower house on the topic, dozens of politicians own TV and radio stations in this manner.

Including the late PFL stalwart Magalhães, former Minister of Communiations, whose family continues to control TV Bahia, for example.

Intelligent and useful coverage of the issue tends to start from that point, not from isolated cases. See also

Intervozes had an interesting press release this week arguing that the exchange of accusations between Globo and Record is really just a giant red herring because basically all Brazilian TV networks operate illegally, or on the margins of legality, exploiting gaping loopholes, to one degree or another.

The debate takes two basic forms, the second with a couple of basic flavors, I tend to find:

  1. Other people’s heads must roll (but not ours)! –Abril, Globo, Band, SBT, Record, RBS, and so on
  2. There oughta be a law! –Some anti-media monopoly crusaders
  3. There is a law, and these people constantly break it! — Other flavors of anti-media monopoly crusaders

Senadores de oposição dizem que esse não é um fato isolado. Para eles, é parte de uma estratégia que Renan estaria montando para chantagaer seus opositores. E se Renan não der explicações convincentes, o Democratas e o PSDB vão entrar com nova representação contra o presidente do Senado por quebra de decoro parlamentar, a quinta desde o início da crise.

Opposition senators say this is not an isolated fact. In their view, it is part of a strategy of Renan’s to blackmail his opponents. And if Renan does not give convincing explanations, the Democrats and the PSDB are going to move a new ethics charge against Calheiros for “conduct unbecoming” — the fifth since the crisis began.

I appreciate this curt and sensible entry in Último Segundo‘s editorial manual on the term “crisis”:

Crise – Só use a palavra para definir um evento decisivo ou uma virada (turning point). Confusões políticas, desentendimentos ou discórdia não são crises. A crise se define por uma ausência de resposta.

Only use the “crisis” for a decisive event or a turning point. Political disputes, fallings-out or dissension are not crises. Crises are defined by an absence of [a way out or solution].

– Renan pensa que é Deus. Ele acha que pode tudo, e está se utilizando gravemente da máquina do Senado para continuar cometendo crimes. Isso é um crime – afirmou Demóstenes.

“Renan thinks he’s God. He thinks he can do anything, and is using the machinery of the Senate to continue committing crimes. This is a crime,” Demosthenes said.

Renan, que está em Alagoas, limitou-se a dizer neste sábado que “esta é a 18ª edição da revista “Veja” que fabrica notícia contra mim”.

Renan, who was in Alagoas, limited himself to saying this Saturday that “this is the 18th edition of Veja magazine to fabricate news against me.”

Irritado com a situação, Demóstenes diz que a quebra de decoro é muito clara:

Irritated with the situation, Demosthenes said the “conduct unbecoming” is quite clear:

– Renan não é ministro do Supremo para investigar parlamentares. É um espião sentado no trono do Senado. A quebra de decoro está clara, e o objetivo era mudar a nossa convicção com chantagens – afirmou.

“Renan is not a Supreme Court justice who can investigate lawmakers. He is a spy seated on the throne of the Senate. The conduct unbecoming is obvious, the objective is to change our convictions with blackmail,” he stated.

Is Senator Torres vulnerable to blackmail?

Demóstenes comparou a suposta tentativa de espionagem ao caso Watergate, que levou à renúncia do presidente americano Richard Nixon, em 1974.

Hangargate = Watergate.

– Por muito menos, o presidente Nixon renunciou – completou.

“At least Nixon resigned,” he said.

Calheiros actually reminds me a lot more of Lyndon Johnson and Slick Willy Clinton — both of whose contributions to the commonwealth were something of a mixed bag, but not totally inconsequential, despite their personal failings (Personally, they say, Johnson was a total racist peckerwood, and yet he pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Go figure.)

Perillo também reagiu:

Perillo also reacted:

– É uma espécie de constrangimento contra senadores que têm tido uma atuação firme no sentido de apurar todos os indícios, todos os eventos que envolvam o presidente do Senado – disse Perillo.

“It is [an attempt] at compromising Senators in some way, Senators who were firm in following up on all the evidence, all the events that may involve the president of the Senate,” said Perillo.

This is entirely an idle bet, based on pure speculation, mind you, but I could well imagine actual charges of wrongdoing coming up against these lawmakers and their saying, “See! This is blackmail! And the federal police are a politicized Gestapo!”

Assessor diz que denúncia é invenção para incriminar Renan

Aide says charge is a fabrication to incriminate Renan

Em viagem a Goiânia no último dia 24, Escórcio teria tentado cooptar o apoio do empresário e ex-deputado goiano Pedrinho Abrão. O plano era instalar câmeras no hangar de táxi aéreo de Abrão para flagrar os dois senadores embarcando em jatinhos particulares e, posteriormente, usar o material para chantageá-los e baixar assim o tom das críticas ao presidente da Casa.

In a trip to Goiânia on September 24, Escórcio allegedly tried to get the support of businessman and former Goiás federal deputy Pedrinho Abrão.

Who the hell is Escórcio?

This is the first mention of Escórcio in this story, aside from the lead, where his name is not given.

In which case, of course, he should be fully described: Full name, job title, brief history of relationship to the party in question.

I think they still teach that in Journalism 101, right?

The plan was to install cameras in the hangar of Abrão’s air taxi service to catch the two senators flying off in private corporate jets, and then use the material to blackmail them into lowering the tone of the criticisms of Calheiros.

“Was allegedly,” I think Globo meant to say.

Do the senators fly in private jets?

If so, whose corporate jets?

Should they fly in corporate jets?

I remember Forbes Brasil doing a profile of the wife of the opposition political candidate during the last election, with a pictorial spread that actually showed her getting out of a corporate jet.

The candidate at the time was pledging to sell of Brazilian Air Force One and boasting that he had done the same as governor of São Paulo (although he reportedly continued to use the police helicopters he had “returned” to the forces of law and order for his official air travel.

Sort of a ” borrow-back” arrangement. He arrived at the grand opening of Daslu, for example, in a state helicopter, I remember reading.)

There are frequent cases these days of Brazilian officials — from both the last government and this one — being accused of improbity after allegedly “hitchhiking” on Air Force flights for personal travel. The director of the federal police was investigated for giving his daugher a ride on a business trip, for example, but I think nothing came of it.

Sardemberg, a former Cardoso technocrat — reputedly a strategic planning sort of egghead type, I think he headed MiniSciTech, and was recently named by Lula to head the Brazilian FCC, Anatel — was ordered to repay 20,000 local quid and had his rights to run for office suspended for 8 years in such a case.

He appealed, and the case, like many such matters here, has dragged on longer than Jarndyce v. Jarndyce.

Escórcio confirmou apenas que se encontrou com Abrão, de quem se diz amigo, mas negou que tenha conversado com ele sobre grampo ou dossiês contra senadores. O assessor de Renan disse que foi a Goiânia para encontrar seu advogado, Eli Dourado, e que convidou Abrão a se juntar a eles no escritório para “jogar conversa fora”.

Escórcio would confirm only that he met with Abrão, whom he calls a friend, but denied talking with him about surveillance or dossiers against Senators. The aide to Renan said he went to Goiânia to see his lawyer, Eli Dourado, and that he invited Abrão to join them in the lawyer’s office to “chew the fat.”

– Falamos sobre amenidades e sobre a política local. Não fui tratar nada disso (de grampo). Era um encontro de pessoas que foram muito amigas e não se viam há algum tempo. Pelo fato de eu ser ligado a Renan, estão inventando essa história toda para incriminá-lo – disse.

“We exchanged pleasantries and talked about local politics. It had nothing to do with that [surveillance]. It was meeting of old friends who had not seen one another in a long time. Because I am linked to Renan, they are inventing this whole story to incriminate him,” he said.

Depois de recusar a proposta, Abrão teria procurado Demóstenes e Perillo para alertá-los sobre a ação de arapongas a mando de Renan. Segundo Demóstenes, Renan repete a estratégia usada no início do escândalo em que é acusado de ter despesas pessoais pagos pelo lobista de uma empreiteira. Na época, o peemedebista teria espalhado rumores para intimidar colegas como Pedro Simon (PMDB-RS), Jefferson Péres (PDT-AM) e José Agripino Maia (DEM-RN).

After refusing the proposal, Abrão reportedly sought out Demosthenes and Perillo to alert them to the activity of spies commanded by Renan. According to Torres, Renan is repeating the strategy he used at the beginning of the scandal in which he was accused of having personal expenses paid by a lobbyist for a public-works contractor. At the time, the Senator allegedly spread rumors to intimidate colleagues like Simon, Péres, and José Agripinio Maia.

After refusing the alleged proposal, I think you mean.

– Um grupo de salteadores e desqualificados tomou conta do Senado e acha que pode fazer o que quiser -afirmou Demóstenes.

“A bunch of bounders and incompetents took over the Senate and think they can do whatever they want,” said Demosthenes.

The accusers have now been quoted verbatim in at least six paragraphs. In some of them, they are quoted repeating the exact same point in other words. The defendants have been quoted in two paragraphs.

But who’s counting?

The factual details of the allegation are buried deep down below the (notional) fold.

The use of the subjunctive mood — teria dito — to indicate that these are allegations, not established facts, is inconsistent. The indicative mood creeps in, stays for dinner, and winds up drinking all your pinga, slapping your daughter on the ass, and passing out on your couch.

Make that seven.

Rodrigo Maia, presidente nacional do DEM, defendeu no início da noite deste sábado, em entrevista ao Blog do Noblat, a demissão de Escórcio: “Este elemento tem de ser afastado do quadro de funcionários do Senado Federal. Não é possível um desrespeito deste à instituição, este caso já foi longe demais”, afirmou.

Rodrigo Maia, national president of the DEM, in an interview with the Blog of Noblat, defended firing Escórcio: “This subject must be fired as an employee of the Federal Senate. This sort of disrespect for the institution is not admissible, this case has gone too far,” he said.

Rodrigo is the son of Rio mayor Cesar “The Naked” Maia.

Jucá controlaria empresas de cominicação por intermédio de ‘laranjas’

Jucá said to control media firms through “fronts”

Segundo a revista “Veja” desta semana, Romero Jucá é acusado de controlar duas emissoras – a TV Imperial e a Rádio Equatorial – por meio de laranjas. De acordo com a revista, o cunhado do senador, Emílio Surita, apresentador do programa “Pânico na TV”, controla as empresas e passou uma procuração para o advogado Alexandre Matias Morris administrá-las. Morris também é administrador da TV Caburaí, da qual Jucá seria dono.

According to Veja magazine this week, Romero Jucá is accused of controlling two broadcasters — TV Imperial and Radio Equatorial — through fronts. According to the magazine, the senator’s brother-in-law, Emílio Surita, host of Pânico na TV, controls the companies and gave a lawyer power of attorney to run them. The lawyer, Mr. Morris, also runs TV Caburaí, of which Jucá is allegedly the owner.

Not Pânico na TV!

(A once-popular, and not very good, my wife says, comedy series on SBT, I think it was.)

Say it ain’t so, Emilió!


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