“Hooker Scandal Topples Bolivian Government!”: The Folha Regrets The Error

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“Obviously a cheap Photoshop job,” says former Minister of Water.

Attribution to another publication … cannot serve as license to print rumors that would not meet the test of The Times’s own reporting standards. Rumors must satisfy The Times’s standard of newsworthiness, taste and plausibility before publication, even when attributed. And when the need arises to attribute, that is a good cue to consult with the department head about whether publication is warranted at all.The New York Times, Guidelines on Integrity.

It would be a journalistic and ethical step backwards for iG to modify its standards to adopt less rigorous criteria for information we (merely) publish. Or if we left the responsibility for hearing various sides of a given issue exclusively up to the service provider. The reader, quite rightly, thinks that what he reads or sees on iG comes from iG. Besides offering the service, iG makes a point of placing its branding on every page. According to the law, vehicles are responsible for what they publish. –Ombudsman, iG Web portal (Brazil); see Brazil: Did iG Piss on the Swiss?

Erramos: Escândalo sexual derruba ministro na Bolívia: The Folha de S. Paulo regrets the error in a story headlined “Sex scandal brings down Bolivian cabinet minister.”

The correction is datelined December 31, 2007.

Diferentemente do que foi publicado no texto Escândalo sexual derruba ministro na Bolívia (Mundo – 28/11/2007 – 00h51), produzido pela Efe e reproduzido pela Folha Online, os protestos mencionados eram a favor da expulsão da empresa Suez de La Paz e El Alto, e não contra. O erro foi corrigido no texto.

Unlike what was published in the Article “Sex scandal brings down cabinet minister in Bolivia” (November 28, 2007), produced by EFE and reproduced by Folha Online, the protests mention were in favor of the expulsion of Suez from La Paz e El Alto, not against it. The error was corrected in the article.


The error was corrected in the article when?

One month later?

Who made the error, by the way? A Spanish-language version I found on Terra contained the correct statement, and no correction was noted.

Then again, does Terra note corrections? The Folha does not. That is to say, there is no note on the original article stating, “this article was corrected on December 31 to correct a material misstatement.”

G1/Globo ran the same EFE dispatch on the same date, and has not yet corrected the error. It still reads

Antes de ser ministro Mamani havia liderado vários protestos contra a expulsão da empresa Suez de La Paz e El Alto, alegando o não cumprimento dos investimentos.

Do not expect it to, either. Globo does not do corrections.

Globo is never wrong.

If Globo reports the North Pole is in Antarctica, get to work redrawing those maps.

A search on that headline on the Folha Online Web site does not turn up the article in question, by the way. One might assume that it does not even exist.

However, a search on Google using the “site:[URL]” operator does locate it.

The Folha should review the performance of its Web site search provider.

The story in question:

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“The Kenyan Elections Were Bizarre, And We Stand By the Results”: U.S. Diplomats

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Elections Commission of Kenya Web poll today. To give you an idea of how meaningful this is as a measure of Kenyan public opinion, I myself was able to vote in the online survey. Twice. (I voted “Don’t know.” Honestly, I don’t. Disclosure: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Kenyan.)

It should be mentioned here that a weak point with regard to the use of the legal framework for the 2002 elections, was the interpretation and application of the laws by the ECK. On certain issues the ECK took a practical approach towards a legal problem, which on a number of occasions led to decisions of the ECK which were not in accordance with the law. For example, in contravention of the law, the ECK accepted withdrawals from candidates and replacement of duly nominated candidates after the official closure of nominations. The ECK on certain occasions also adopted an inconsistent or even contradictory interpretation of the law. Furthermore, some of the shortcomings in the law should have been addressed before the 2002 elections, in particular those which raised concerns in previous elections.Joint report of the EU observer mission and K-DOP on the 2002 elections (PDF)

US questions Kenya poll ‘anomalies’ (Thomson Financial).

The US voiced concern today about ‘anomalies’ in Kenya’s disputed presidential election, noting that some constituencies had declared bizarrely high turnout figures.

Actually, as 500 Hats is pointing out, “the U.S.” seems to be issuing dueling press releases on this issue. See also

File provisionally under “message control, catastrophic failures of.”

As Bartholomew Cubbins there points out, the New York Times is pointing to what looks an awful lot like a breakdown of message control between the Department of State and the Nairobi Embassy.

In this case, “the U.S.” — as represented by its embassy — seems to think these elections were plagued by bizarre anomalies.

“The United States is, however, concerned by serious problems experienced during the vote-counting process,” said a US government statement released by its embassy in Nairobi. “These included various anomalies with respect to unrealistically high voter turnout rates, close to 100 percent in some constituencies, discrepancies in the number of votes reported for the respective candidates, apparent manipulation of some election reporting documents, and long delays in reporting results.’

Meanwhile, from the U.S. as represented by the spooks and Moonie-dominated Foggy Bottom, where Paul Wolfowitz’s girlfriend works in the Karen Hughes memorial “blogging for democracy” department:

“The United States congratulates the winners and is calling for calm, and for Kenyans to abide by the results declared by the election commission. We support the commission’s decision,said spokesman Robert McInturff. He reiterated a State Department statement from Saturday that asked Kenyans “to reject violence and respect the rule of law.”

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Reuters: “Foreign observers praise Kenyan election”

In the dark, all beans are unsortable into light and dark.

She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all


Following the 2005 Ethiopian elections the Carter Center’s and the European Union’s electoral observation reports became highly politicized. In the post election period, the two organizations came to different conclusions in regards to the validity of the electoral process. At the core of these differences were the organizations’ differing conceptions of what constitutes free and fair electoral practices. In the post election period the European Union’s and Carter Center’s reports have been pitted against one and other as those concerned with the election results seek to make sense of the reports. –Lucilia Pereira, “Free and Fair: The Politicization of Election Monitoring Reports,” Thesis, U. Saskatchewan, Oct. 2006.

Reuters aims to report the facts, not rumours. Clients rely on us to differentiate between fact and rumour, and our reputation rests partly on that. –”A handbook of Reuters journalism”

Reuters Africa serves up gabbling half-truths in the service of a fairy tale about consensus among international elections observers in Kenya:

International observers praised Kenya’s presidential and parliamentary elections as broadly transparent and peaceful on Friday, despite fears that such a close race would encourage rigging and large-scale violence.

Close race? The New York Times cited results showing the challenger leading by some 20 points. See

Large-scale violence currently dominates the headlines after accusations of election-rigging.

Which some elections observers say are credible, while others say they are not.

Reuters reports that fears have not been realized.

Shortly thereafter, those fears are realized.

Your global risk management console seems to have a track record for the Fallacy of Wishful Thinking.

Bear that in mind as you contemplate its optimism over EU regulatory approval for the Thomson merger.

The British government has expressed serious doubts about the validity of the election, while the EU observer mission appears to be calling the election, using diplomatic phraseology, a massive failure.

Citing observed incidents in which the local precinct reports x votes for Quimby and the ECK then “reads off its computer screen” — donated by USAID — that the local precinct is reporting x+5,000 votes for Quimby.

Where x≠(x+5,000).


But here Reuters is, blithely promoting the fairy-tale of unanimity among the dueling election observers, whose recommendations and evaluations in fact diverge sharply.

The US Dept. of State, for example, recommends that everyone accept the results announced by the ECK, whose integrity it vouches for. According to an article in The Nation.

The US government released another statement from New York, urging Kenyans to accept the final election results calmly, saying it had “great confidence” in the ECK and its chairman, Samuel Kivuitu.The Nation (Nairobi)

The rooters from Reuters:

Monitors from the European Union, a group of countries from Africa’s Great Lakes region and the U.S.-based International Republican Institute all praised the conduct of Thursday’s vote.

As far as I know, the observers from the Great Lakes Group cited were actually part of the IRI mission. That is, there were not three observer contingents here, as you might be led to infer, but two:

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São Paulo Diary: Hole Patrol Extols Control!

I read the news today oh, boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall 

Metrô nega que obra tenha causado buraco em Pinheiros: The Estado de S. Paulo rewrites the press release. “Subway authority denies excavations on the Yellow Line caused hole in Pinheiros.”

We own a modest office suite in an office condo in Pinheiros, so we follow this story closely.

See also

SÃO PAULO – O buraco que surgiu ontem à noite nas proximidades da Rua Paes Leme, em Pinheiros, zona oeste da cidade, nada tem a ver com as obras da linha 4 do Metrô, segundo a assessoria de imprensa da Companhia do Metropolitano de São Paulo. Técnicos da companhia realizaram uma vistoria na área hoje e concluíram “com 100% de certeza”, conforme a assessoria, que o buraco não foi originado em razão dos trabalhos de construção da futura Estação Pinheiros. A assessoria entendeu ainda que um buraco de um metro de profundidade por 1,5 metro de largura não pode ser chamado “cratera”.

The hole that appeared last evening near Paes Leme Street in Pinheiros, has nothing to do with work on the Metrô’s Line 4, the press office of the São Paulo state Metrô authority said yesterday. Metrô technicians inspected the area today and concluded “with 100% certainty,” according to the press office, that the hole did not originate from contruction work on the future Pinheiros Station.

Why were the engineers themselves not interviewed?

This is a sensitive issue because the Pinheiros Station collapsed into an enormous smoking hole early this year. Later, (1) a failure of two segments of the tunnel was announced, as well as (2) a one-year delay in the delivery of the project. I was never really sure, reading the coverage, whether (1) and (2) were related in any way.

The press office also said that a hole 1.5 meters wide cannot be termed a “crater.”

And how deep was it? 

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Kenya: “Recounting the Votes Would Undermine Democratic Institutions”

Nobel Laureate and former Tetu MP, Prof Wangari Mathai, said the presidential votes should be recounted to dispel any doubts. “Counting is not a big deal… it is less expensive than having the burden of feeling to have been unfairly denied the win.”

The well educated, skilled, and experienced accountant is the first line of defense for the capitalist system. … My advice to the accounting profession, antifraud professionals, and Wall Street: Do not trust, just verify. Verify, verify, and verify.Sam E. Antar, “former CFO of Crazy Eddie and now a convicted felon who helped mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered in the 1980s.”

The US government released another statement from New York, urging Kenyans to accept the final election results calmly, saying it had “great confidence” in the ECK and its chairman, Samuel Kivuitu.The Nation (Nairobi) today

The Standard (Kenya) | ODM, PNU in war of words: Calls for a recount in the Kenya elections are met with calls to “respect the integrity of institutions” and characterized as “inciting violence.”


Subsequent updates [As of January 3, 2007]:

It is fascinating to watch how a lot of media coverage of the problematic Kenyan election quickly shifted gears from (1) “The opposition will win the election” to (2) “The opposition is promoting violence and rumors” over election fraud allegations. Without passing “Go” or collecting $200.

Also notably incongruent: Reports that (1) the challenger was beating the incumbent by a substantial margin, and (2) that the election was very, very tight.

As in “a technical tie within the margin of error of opinion polling.” As a Brazilian observer noted in last year’s election here:

If the polls start to converge on this kind of “technical tie” between Lula and Alckmin, we are in a risky situation. In the situation of a technical tie, the possibilities of electoral fraud are enormous. I would say that the temptation of electronic fraud would be impossible to resist.

See I’ve Seen This Movie II: When Mariachis Learn to Play Maracatú

Dueling opinion polls, some of them indicating the proverbial “tightly contested technical tie within the polling margin of error” is, indeed, a story we have seen a lot of in recent years. See, for example

The Nation (Kenya) reports that “The US and British Governments Call on Kenyans to Accept the Results”

But Her Majesty’s Government cannot, I think, be reasonably interpreted as calling on Kenyans to accept the results as published. It is calling on the election authorities to produce results that are acceptable to Kenyans. As these are not.

The U.S. and British governments reportedly diverge sharply at this point as to the degree of confidence expressed in the ECK.

The Nation seems to be mischaracterizing the position of HMG to its readers.

Here is the official statement from the Foreign Office:

‘We are disturbed at the violence surrounding the elections. The British Government calls for an end to the violence, respect for the democratic process and for all Kenyan leaders to act responsibly. This is a pivotal moment for Kenya. It is vital that the entire election process meets the expectations of the Kenyan electorate. The international community hopes that Kenya will live up to both the letter and the spirit of its democratic principles.’

The Brits think the vote-counting part of the election looks phonier than a Sino-Paraguayan “Tongka” truck, and has put the onus squarely on the election authority to make things right.

The Rashōmon effect in election monitoring reports is not a new phenomenon in Africa, either, apparently:

Following the 2005 Ethiopian elections the Carter Center’s and the European Union’s electoral observation reports became highly politicized. In the post election period, the two organizations came to different conclusions in regards to the validity of the electoral process. At the core of these differences were the organizations’ differing conceptions of what constitutes free and fair electoral practices. In the post election period the European Union’s and Carter Center’s reports have been pitted against one and other as those concerned with the election results seek to make sense of the reports. –Lucilia Pereira, “Free and Fair: The Politicization of Election Monitoring Reports,” Thesis, U. Saskatchewan, Oct. 2006.

It’s Mexico (and possibly Alagoas) 2006 all over again. And Ecuador, recall, experienced a scandalous delay in getting a result due to the (still unexplained) failure of a Brazilian technology consortium to deliver the quick count. Executives fled the country, pursued by a fraud investigation. See

I am reading a presentation by the ECK president from a year or so ago on how technology was going to help it smooth out problems in future elections.

What technology was applied here? Who was contracted to provide it? Why did it not apparently not smooth out the problem? (Electrical outages at some of the “constitutuencies” has been cited here and there.)

If you ask me, the role of the International Republican Institute in this election, which mounted a shadow elections observer mission and is now also calling upon all parties to accept the results and “respect democratic institutions,” needs to be probed harder than the prostate of a 70-year-old life-long chainsmoker.

Request from the Kenyan Oranges: “Double-check the vote tally, please.”

The EU election observer noted evidence that the results from local vote tally forms had been inflated by the time they were published by the ECK (The Elections Commission of Kenya).

As tension continues to rise over the fate of Kenya’s recently held General Election, ODM has alleged that Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) accepted results from 48 constituencies without valid documents. While addressing the Press at KICC, Nairobi on Sunday afternoon, ODM pentagon member, Mr William Ruto, asked ECK to peruse files from the affected constituencies.

Rejoinder: The opposition does not respect democratic institutions and is resorting to antidemocratic violence to seize power!

But in a swift rejoinder, PNU leaders held a press conference at the same venue and rubbished ODM claims saying they were meant to incite the public and cause violence.Garsen MP elect and assistant minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Danson Mungatana, said ODM leaders “lack respect for ECK” and must respect the laws governing the conduct of elections. PNU accused ODM of spreading information that he termed “half truths” and inciting citizens to violence and destruction of property.

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Brazil: “Veja is a Cancer Upon the Grupo Abril!”

Illness as a metaphor for Veja magazine — with apologies to Susan Sontag, who, having died of the literal disease, actually knew what she was talking about.

“They think that Abril supports Cardoso’s plan of government. They have it wrong. It is not Abril who supports Cardoso. It is Cardoso who supports Abril’s plan of government.” –attributed to Roberto Civita, Grupo Abril

Contraponto is a Web log by Alisson Almeida of Natal, RN, Brazil, who identifies herself as a

Jornalista pela Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) e colaborador da Rede Jovem de Comunicação.

She weighs in on the current controversy between Luis Nassif and Veja magazine over the alleged Daniel Dantas connection at the newsweekly. See

Or rather, she reproduces the histrionic rant of an anonymous commenter on the dispute, who applies an extended metaphor of pustulent contamination — developed with great, er, ham-fistedness — to the flagship newsweekly of the Civita empire.

On a similar use of metaphors of “taint” and “contamination” in contemporary journalism criticism, see also

The argument: Veja is a rogue element at the Grupo Abril, and not reflective of the general ethical standards of Abril journalism.

I tend to doubt this very much.

Here is one reason for doubting this: The anonymous source of Veja‘s “sex Senator” exposé appears to have been the palimony attorney for the woman at the center of the scandal.

The same attorney also reportedly negotiated her contract to appear nude in another Editora Abril publication, Playboy Brasil. And perjured himself to the Brazilian congress (although amazingly, the Brazilian congress apparently does not hear witnesses under oath.)

Tell me that did not really happen. I saw it with my own own eyes. Like a lot of Brazilians, I now know what is tattooed on Mônica Veloso’s ass.

That is to say: This lawyer apparently leveraged an anonymous corruption charge in one Abril magazine into a lucrative contract for his client to “reveal all” in another.

This suggests to me that the problem may lie somewhere well up the chain of command, over the heads of editorial management of single titles.

Here is another: The Grupo Abril has just recently, with great fanfare, set a limit on gifts to its employees, including journalists at all of its publications, of R$100.

Which is just a jawdroppingly low ethical bar to set for oneself. You would have to be the infinitely flexible Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four to go lower than the standard set for this ethical limbo dance.

Who do they think they are fooling with this Potemkin Village crusade against jabaculê (payola)?

Reuters, which has rather weak conflict-of-interest governance, I think, states in its code of conduct, for example:

The Reuters Code of Conduct reminds journalists that they must not accept any payment, gift, service or benefit (whether in cash or in kind) offered by a news source or contact.


As in none.

Not any. Zero.

If forced to accept by circumstances — your source is a Mongol chieftain who will declare a blood feud against you and your descendants unto the nth generation if you refuse his hospitality — the gift must be donated to charity.


The notion that limiting gifts to R$100 represents progress make you really wonder just how out of hand the whole jabaculê situation really is over there.

The Clan Civita really, really seems to be sweating it. The more nervous they get, the more they issue lengthy harangues in the apologia pro vita sua tradition like this one:

At any rate, to Alisson’s post: O câncer da Veja.

Comentário postado por Weden, no blog do Luis Nassif:

A comment posted by Weden on Nassif’s blog:

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Grey Lady-Globo: “Kenyan Opposition Wins With 57% of the Vote!”

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Above: Citing the New York Times, Globo/G1 Brazil reports a (fairly overwhelming) victory for the Kenyan opposition candidate and refers to the incumbent in the past tense.

News organizations call one election result. The official results are otherwise. This freak occurrence is occurring with freakish frequency all over the world in the current decade, don’t you tend to find? See also

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“Exit polls give victory to Chávez in referendum”: The
Folha de S. Paulo front page on the day after. See also Chávez Defeat: “Could the Absence of a Plot Itself Be a Plot?”

Contagem de votos aponta vitória da oposição no Quênia

Vote count points to victory of Kenyan opposition

Raila Odinga, que faz campanha como defensor dos pobres, tem cerca de 57% dos votos.

Raila Odinga, running as defender of the poor, has nearly 57% of the votes.

Mwai Kibaki, atual governante, ficou conhecido por ter impulsionado a economia do país. Do New York Times

Incumbent Kibaki was known for driving the nation’s economy. From the New York Times (December 28).

Note how the sourcing of the principal hard fact in this story changes during its journey from Times Square to Globo Journalism Central there in Rio, in, where was it? Jacarepaguá?

A oposição parece estar à frente das eleições no Quênia com larga vantagem, de acordo com resultados preliminares divulgados na última sexta-feira (28), com um desafiante populista determinado a ocupar o lugar do atual presidente e diversos ministros importantes removidos de seus cargos.

The opposition appears to be in front in the Kenyan elections by a large margin, according to preliminary results published on Friday, with a defiant populist determined to take the place place of the incumbent president and various important ministers removed from their posts.

“Defiant populist”? See also

On the same day, the International News of Pakistan was reporting:

NAIROBI: Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki leads on Thursday’s presidential election with 47.3 per cent of the vote versus 42.8 for opposition leader Raila Odinga, according to an early exit poll by a local independent observer group. The Institute for Education in Democracy (IED), a respected non-governmental organisation, gave the early figures based on a sample of 271 polling stations out of a total 27,000. Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) was delighted. “We expect a much higher tally,” spokeswoman Ngari Gituku said. An Odinga aide dismissed the exit poll.

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