Ecce Veja: Nassif on Dantas and the Party of Mainardi

The fact is that the Rio lobbyists saw Mainardi as a columnist for rent. His role as a “parajournalist” at Veja — a role played with great talent by Zé Simão of the Folha and Mendes Pedreira of O Globo — broke with the ethical limits of the journalism profession, opening the way for publishing any and all information that came his way, without even the slighest semblance of journalistic fact-checking. And Mainardi would soon demonstrate he lacked scruples to a sufficient degree that he would commmit any act of character assassination asked of him.

In the months to come, a radical change would take place in Veja magazine’s treatment of the man who, by his own account, made a habit of bugging people, ginning up phony dossiers and buying journalists.

“Newspapers are like revolvers: You keep them around so you can pull them out when it’s time to open fire.” — Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Colombian media owner; see “A Newspaper is Like a Gun”: Armed Media Monopolist No. 47

O quarteto de Veja: In his series on the astonishing sleaziness of the Veja newsweekly, published by Brazil’s Editora Abril, Luis Nassif is starting to get to the heart of the matter.

His focus: A sudden about-face in Veja‘s editorial treatment of the somewhat controversial, MIT-trained Bahian investment banker, Daniel Dantas.

Disparados os primeiros petardos, Dantas procurou se aproximar de várias frentes na Veja. Há tempos mantinha relacionamento com Lauro Jardim, editor da seção Radar, onde costumava plantar corriqueiramente balões de ensaio.

Once the first broadsides were fired against him, Dantas tried to approach Veja magazine on various fronts. He had maintained a relationship for some time with Lauro Jardim, editor of the “Radar” section, where he often planted items designed to test the waters.

The English phrase is “send up trial balloons,” isn’t it? I am totally gripado today — the standard São Paulo flu I seem to get every February — and my brain is not working.

Em meados de 2005, provavelmente entre maio e junho, a relação se amplia. 18 de maio de 2005 é a data do último ataque a Dantas; 15 de junho de 2005 o início ostensivo da mudança de rota.

In mid-2005, probably in May or June, that relationship deepened. May 18, 2005, was the date of Veja‘s last attack on Dantas; June 15, 2005 marked the begin of a spectacular change of course.

Através de Jardim, Dantas se aproxima de Eurípedes. Pareciam até movimentos concatenados da parte da direção da revista. Primeiro, os ataques a Dantas e a seus representantes na imprensa. Depois, a abertura para conversas.

Through Jardim, Dantas got closer to [editorial director] Eurípedes Alcântara. The contacts even looked like they might have been choreographed by Veja editorial management. First came the attacks on Dantas and his representatives in the press. Then came the openness to negotiate.

Nesse jogo, o papel mais ostensivo passaria a ser desempenhado por Diogo Mainardi. Pouco tempo antes, ele havia escrito algumas colunas falando de fundos de pensão. Por alguma razão, houve uma espécie de leilão no Rio de Janeiro para conseguir seu passe.

The most dramatic role in this game came to be played by [columnist] Diogo Mainardi. Not long before, he had written columns about the pension funds. For some reason, a sort of auction was held in Rio de Janeiro to obtain [the benefit of his magic touch.]

O mundo dos lobbies cariocas

The Rio de Janeiro lobbying scene

E aí vale uma segunda pausa para falar do mundo de lobbies do Rio. São pessoas com bom trânsito com imprensa, empresas, políticos e judiciário. Em geral pulam de um lado para outro, oferecendo serviços especialmente em grandes embates empresariais ou políticos.

Here we should take a second break to talk a little about the Rio de Janeiro lobbying scene. These are people with excellent access to the press, the business world, politicians and the judiciary. In general, they switch sides frequently, especially when offering their services in grand business or political conflicts.

Nos últimos tempos se consolidaram dois grupos mais atrevidos. Um, comandado por Nelson Tanure, do Jornal do Brasil; outro, por Daniel Dantas.

In recent times, two more audacious groups of lobbyists have emerged, one commanded by Nelson Tanure, owner of the Jornal do Brasil, and the other by Daniel Dantas.

Tanure foi o primeiro a perceber a importância empresarial das disputas judiciais. Elas não são um fim em si mesmo, mas um instrumento para abrir campo para acordos vantajosos. Foi assim que conseguiu vultosa indenização do Bradesco, para interromper uma ação contra a aquisição do Banco Boa Vista.

Tanure was the first to perceive the importance of lawsuits as a business practice. They are not an end in themselves, but a means to creating opportunities for settling on favorable terms. It was in this way that Tanure managed to obtain a substantial settlement from Bradesco in exchange for calling off a lawsuit over the acquisition of the Boa Vista bank.

Depois, passou a dar assessoria para empresas em luta contra Dantas, como a canadense TIW.

He later started advising companies engaged in the struggle against Dantas, such as TIW of Canada.

Mainardi havia começado a ganhar destaque por subir vários tons nas ofensas contra Lula e também pelo uso de dramas familiares como tema de colunas – o que despertara simpatia em parte do público da Veja.

Mainardi had started to make a name for himself by turning up the volume of his attacks on President Lula, and for the use he made of family dramas as a topic for his columns, thereby gaining the sympathy of part of Veja’s readership.

Adversário de Dantas, Nelson Tanure tentou levá-lo para o Jornal do Brasil. Veja acabou cobrindo a proposta, praticamente dobrando o salário de Mainardi.

An enemy of Dantas, Tanure had tried to bring Mainardi to the Jornal do Brasil. Veja wound up beating his offer, practically doubling Mainardi’s salary.

Não sei a razão objetiva desse assédio. Poderia ser o fato de Mainardi ter mostrado ser “colunista sela” – nome que se dá ao colunista pouco informado que se deixa “cavalgar” pela fonte, tornando-se mero repassador de recados, em troca da repercussão que as notas proporcionam. Pelo menos no início, deveria ser esta a lógica que consolidava a parceria.

I do not know the reason for this intense courtship [of Mainardi]. It might have been the fact that Mainardi had shown himself to be a [rubber-stamp?] columnist — a term for an ill-informed columnist who lets himself be “ridden” by his sources, turning into a mere passer on of messages, in exchange for the prominent play his articles get. At the outset, at least, that must have been the logic that consolidated the partnership with Mainardi.

When I think of calvagar, I tend to think of the way that spiritual mediums are “ridden” by the spirit that takes over their bodies. The New Age crowd calls it “channeling,” I think. The “psychographer” Chico Xavier was Brazil’s most famous practicioner of this subtle art. So I guess we are saying here that Mainardi is sort of a journalistic Chico Xavier.

O fato é que os os lobistas perceberam em Mainardi um colunista em disponibilidade. Além disso, seu próprio papel de “para-jornalista” na revista – papel que, na “Folha”, é exercido com muito talento por Zé Simão; no “Globo”, por Agamenon Mendes Pedreira – rompia com os limites do jornalismo e abria campo amplo para divulgar qualquer informação que lhe fosse entregue, mesmo sem a necessidade sequer de um simulacro de apuração jornalística. E Mainardi se revelaria com falta de escrúpulos suficiente para cometer qualquer assassinato de reputação que lhe fosse encomendado.

The fact is that the lobbyists saw Mainardi as a columnist for rent [as “readily available”]. His role as a “parajournalist” at Veja — a role played with great talent by Zé Simão of the Folha and Mendes Pedreira of O Globo — broke with the ethical limits of the journalism profession and opened the way for publishing any information that cae his way, without even a semblance of journalistic fact-checking. And Mainardi would demonstrate a sufficient lack of scruples to commmit any act of character assassination asked of him.

Naquele período, figura tipicamente carioca que transita por esses ambientes teve alguns almoços com Mainardi e me contou a impressão que ele lhe passou.

At the time, [a veteran of the Rio scene] who travels in those circles had a few lunches with Mainardi and later described to me the impression the columnist had left on him.

Pessoalmente tímido até o limite de não levantar os olhos para encarar o interlocutor; escassa informação em política, história e, especialmente, sobre o intrincado mundo dos negócios e das disputas empresariais. Mas ávido pelas benesses que a exposição jornalística trazia.

Personally timid, to the point where he cannot look his interlocutor in the eye, poorly informed about politics, history and, above all, the complex world of business and business disputes. But eager for the benefits of journalistic fame.

Obviamente nenhum colunista iria enveredar tão ostensivamente pelo mundo das guerras corporativas e “assassinatos de reputação” se não tivesse respaldo de sua chefia maior.

Obviously, no columnist would enter the world of corporate warfare and “character assassination” with such fanfare without the backing of his top boss.

O acerto de Veja com Mainardi foi precedido de uma aproximação entre Eurípedes e Dantas, intermediada por Lauro Jardim.

Veja‘s deal with Mainardi was preceded by a rapprochement between Alcântara and Dantas, brokered by Lauro Jardim.

A partir de então, Eurípedes passou a ter ligação direta com o banqueiro. Conversam corriqueiramente, sem prejuízo dos contatos de Dantas com Jardim e Mainardi. O diretor abria espaço por cima; os colunistas entravam com a mão de obra.

From then on, Alcântara had direct contacts with the banker. They spoke regularly, without, however, interrupting Dantas’ contacts with Jardim and Mainardi. The boss [ran interference from on high] while the columnists did the heavy lifting [grunt work].

O trio se tornava, então, o quarteto de Veja que, dali por diante, entraria de cabeça na campanha a favor de Dantas: Eurípedes Alcântara, Mário Sabino, Lauro Jardim e Diogo Mainardi.

The Veja [triumvirate] was becoming [the four horsemen of] Veja that from then on would lead the campaign in favor of Dantas: Alcântara, Sabino, Jardim and Mainardi.

Pela ordem: Eurípedes Alcântara, Lauro Jardim, Mário Sabino e Diogo Mainardi

Or, in order [of rank and authority, I guess?]: Alcântara, Jardim, Sabino, and Mainardi.

Nos meses seguintes, ocorreria uma mudança radical no tratamento dado pela revista àquele que, segundo ela própria, tinha por hábito grampear, montar dossiês falsos e comprar jornalistas.

In the months to come, a radical change would take place in the magazine’s treatment of the man who, by his own account, had a habit of bugging people, ginning up phony dossiers and buying journalists.

Como vocês se recordam, os três grandes petardos de Veja contra Dantas saíram nas seguintes datas:

As you will recall, the three major broadsides fired by Veja against Dantas came out in the following issues:

* No dia 28 de julho de 2004, “Um negócio de espiões”
* No dia 3 de novembro de 2004, “O Dia da Caça”
* No dia 18 de maio de 2005, “A Usina de Espionagem da Kroll”

* July 28, 2004, [“Spy x spy”]
* November 3, 2004, [“Hunting Day”]

* May 18, 2005, “Kroll’s Spy Factory”

A mudança de linha se dá nitidamente na edição de 15 de junho de 2005, menos de um mês após a publicação da matéria mais dura contra Dantas.

The change of editorial line occurs very clearly in the issue published June 15, 2005, less than a month after the harshest article on Dantas had run.

Na mesma edição, Gushiken foi atacado em nota do Radar, segundo a qual Lula estaria atribuindo-lhe culpa pelos problemas de comunicação do governo; outra nota fazia ilações entre Gushiken, as ações dos fundos e Delúbio Soares.

In the same edition, [governent minister Luis] Gushiken was attacked in the “Radar” column, which said that Lula blamed Gushiken for the government’s communication problems; another item insinuated ties between Gushiken, the pension funds, and [PT treasurer] Delúbio Soares.

De vítima de Dantas, Gushiken começava, a partir de então, a se tornar seu algoz, de acordo com a construção jornalística que Veja começou a montar.

Previously depicted as a victim of Dantas, from then on Gushiken was portrayed as his persecutor, according to the way Veja started framing the story.

Na edição seguinte, de 22 de junho de 2005, o Radar soltava uma saraivada em cima dos fundos de pensão que disputavam o controle da Brasil Telecom. Uma nota “denunciando” o aluguel de um jatinho pela Previ, para levar um companheiro (para poder chegar a tempo ao enterro do irmão). E outra sobre um suposto “gigantesco prejuízo” do fundo Petros.

In the following issue, on June 22, 2005, “Radar” launched a ferocious assault on the pension funds that were disputing the control of Brasil Telecom. An item “denouncing” the renting of a private jet by the Previ pension fund to transport a comrade (who needed to get to the funeral of his brother on time.) And another about alleged “enormous losses” at the Petros pension fund.

Na mesma edição, nota sobre Gushiken insinuando que se preparava para ocupar o lugar de José Dirceu. Em uma edição, se tentava mostrá-lo fraco; na outra, todo poderoso, com o claro intuito de jogá-lo no epicentro do terremoto político que se avizinhava.

In the same edition, an item about Gushiken insinuated that he was preparing to take José Dirceu’s place [as minister of the Casa Civil, sort of the local version of the Karl Rove role]. In one issue, Veja depicted him as weak, in the next, as all-powerful, with the clear intention of placing him at ground zero of the political earthquake to come.

Mas era apenas aquecimento. Embalada pela blindagem proporcionada pelo campanha contra Lula, Veja se desarmava dos cuidados necessários e caía de cabeça nos “assassinatos de reputação”.

But they were just getting warmed up. Wrapped in the untouchability provided by the campaign against President Lula, Veja threw caution to the winds and assumed leadership of the “character assassins.”

Daniel Dantas conseguia sair de “O Povo” e passava a influenciar diretamente a maior revista semanal brasileira.

Daniel Dantas had managed to leave O Povo behind and had begun exercising direct influence on Brazil’s largest-circulation newsweekly.

I am skipping the graphic clippings Nassif is posting as supporting evidence for these claims, I should mention. I am doing this in my (diminishing) spare time, you know. Learn Portuguese.

But in all fairness, I should show you those.

Next chapter, Nassif says, is something like “First services rendered.” I am looking forward to reading it.

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