Brazil: The Rashomon Effect and Article 19


“Smile, you’re being manipulated”: commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Globo television network. Source: Zero Fora.

Writing in Brazil’s Observatório da Imprensa about a recent report on freedom of the press in Belíndia from Britain’s Article 19 — — Venicio A. de Lima notices something that I also found striking.

Insistindo que o Relatório da Article 19 deve ser lido na sua íntegra, é interessante verificar que a grande mídia brasileira tenha praticamente ignorado cinco dos seis itens relatados no texto.

Insisting as I do that the Article 19 report should be read in its entirety, it is interesting to note that the major news media in Brazil has practically ignored five of the six items dealt with in the report.

É legítimo que se conclua, portanto, que a grande mídia brasileira usa da omissão deliberada de informações para proteger seus interesses contrariando a liberdade de expressão e os direitos da cidadania de acesso à informação.

It is legitimate to conclude, therefore, that the major Brazilian news media uses the deliberate omission of information to protect its business interests, contrary to the freedom of expression and the right to access to information.

This, he concludes, is not a point that the Article 19 report makes.

This has been my impression, too.

Most of the coverage I read on the Article 19 report focused on the local equivalent of SLAPP suits, used to prevent journalists from reporting on certain subjects.

And most of that coverage did not distinguish between civil libel actions and the oft-decried laws that still criminalize desacato (“disrespect for authority.”)

There is, for example, the Bornhausen-Sader case:

That was a criminal desacato case. And then there was the latest martyrdom of Mainardi, who has been sued successfully for civil libel for making accusations based on nonexistent facts:

It’s the difference between

  1. “Based on what she said in recent speeches (which I quote correctly and completely), I think Hillary Clinton has authoritarian tendencies and should not be voted for” (with rebuttal time offered to Mrs. Bubba); and
  2. “Hillary Clinton in wild sex weekend with Fidel Castro!”

Which is not actually that much of an exaggeration of the kind of thing we are talking about:

On the Article 19 report, see also

One point that should be mentioned about the Article 19 report: It makes a serious error of fact when it asserts that the Telecommunications Law of 1962 — Law No. 4,117, of 27 August 1962 — was passed under military dictatorship.

The military dictatorship commenced in 1964.

The six points in the Article 19 report:

1. A ausência de um marco legal adequado, com leis que datam de um período não democrático e normas que se encontram técnica e tecnologicamente ultrapassadas;

1. The lack of an adequate legal framework, with laws that date from a nondemocratic period and regulations that are technically and technologically obsolete;

2. Ameaças ao pluralismo e à diversidade na mídia, causadas pela ausência de políticas regulatórias que apóiem os radio-difusores independentes, especialmente os não-comerciais e comunitários, e por um elevado grau de concentração da propriedade dos meios de comunicação social;

3. Threats to the pluralism and diversity of the media, caused by the lack of regulatory policies that support independent broadcasters, and especially noncommercial and community broadcasters, and by an elevated level of concentration of media ownership;

3. Radiodifusão comunitária sob pressão, com sua operação limitada por procedimentos de licenciamento que são lentos, ineficazes e punitivos;

4. Community broadcasting under pressure, with its operation limited by licensing procedures that are slow, inefficient and punitive;

4. Uso abusivo de indenizações por dano moral contra jornalistas e veículos de comunicação social com base em alegadas práticas difamatórias, inclusive com a utilização de decisões liminares que podem caracterizar censura prévia;

4. Abuse of lawsuits seeking damages for libel against journalists and media outlets over alleged defamation, including the use of injunctions that might constitute prior restraint;

5. Um ambiente profissional em que a violência contra jornalistas ainda é um problema, mas um problema que talvez se encontre sub-dimensionado; e,

5. A professional atmosphere in which violence against journalissts is still a problem, but a problem that is perhaps being minimized; and

6. Um direito de acesso à informação protegido pela Constituição, mas cuja implementação pode ser comprometida pela ausência de regulamentação e pela existência de disposições legais em vigor que violam tal direito.

6. Constitutional guarantees of a right to information whose implementation may be undermined by the lack of regulation and the existence of laws on the books that violate that right.

I have never had gay sex with Fidel Castro, but the principle of freedom of expression permits Diogo Mainardi to write freely that I regularly do?

And outweighs my right to insist that my wife — who would be horrified to learn of this, and puzzled to know how I managed to sneak off to Cuba for wild weekends of tickling The Beard withou her noticing– not be disinformed about my sexcapades?

Is that it?

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