The Cardoso Room-Service Blackmail Dossier: “Veja’s Deep Throat Revealed!”

//i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/Stuff/08ap.jpg?t=1207065101” contém erros e não pode ser exibida.
Veja magazine, March 2002: “The Dossier Wars: Politicians and spies have set up a slander industry in Brazil.” Right: And Veja is that industry’s Yoyodyne. Ask Veja about the work that Jairo Martins later did for it (and testified to a congressional committee about).

Brazilian journalist Luis Nassif has mounted an incredible army of Internet Brancaleones to severely criticize the neo-Lacerdist style of journalism practiced at Veja magazine (Grupo Abril) — what Mr. Nassif has described, with good reason, as an attempt to import the “neocon style” into Brazilian journalism.

I personally think the neocons got their style from the kind of banana-republican fascists in whose footsteps Veja follows, but that is a subtle historical debate for another time.

One of the hallmarks of that journalism is the use of anonymous sourcing as the rule, rather than the very carefully pondered exception.

Anyone who has ever read a manual of good journalistic practice knows that you can save yourself the embarrassment of running gabbling, unsubstantiated rumors and vouching for nonsense (the “Jayson Blair-Judy Miller syndrome”) by observing a couple of simple rules of thumb: (1) think twice about granting anonymity to sources, explain why you granted it, and give as much information about the source as possible; and (2) in any event, always corroborate what your Deep Throat is telling you six ways from Sunday before running it, or else make it very explicit that the information you are presenting has not been corroborated.

Unless, of course, running unsubstantiated rumor does not embarrass you.

The case that always comes to mind — I have been doing a fair amount of reading up on the history of this sort of thing here in Brazil — is that of an accusatory scandal story about a politician whom Veja reported had US$1 million in a (bribe-stuffed, allegedly) bank account.

At the last minute, those snotty little know-it-alls in the fact-checking department discovered that the account actually only contained R$1,000.

So Veja, which already had the scandalous cover printed up, started calling around to try to get a source to “confirm” the US$1 million figure.

It found one in a bitter political adversary of the target. So it ran with the US$1 million figure, even though it had information to the contrary. And did not identify the source of the US$1 million figure, to boot.

It later apologized — sort of — for getting the story wrong. See

It also later abolished its fact-checking department.

In a related story, I wish very much not to owe any taxes this year. So I shop around for an accountant who will sign off on the proposition that my taxable income last year was, not $1 gazillion (would that it were), but $0.

So who was Veja‘s source on the rumor that a government minister “rigged up a blackmail dossier” against former President Cardoso?

A member of the Brancaleones writes in to say we now know. It is not quite crystal-clear to me that we do, but it does seem that Veja has some explaining to do.

A fonte da Veja

Veja‘s source

De Flávio Cantu

By Flávio Cantu

Nassif,

Dear Nassif,

Me desculpe o “off-topic”, mas o Senador Alvaro Dias confirmou que foi a fonte da Revista Veja.

Pardon my “off-topic” posting, but Senator Dias has confirmed being the source of that report in Veja magazine.

Sort of. Current reports are that he has denied publicly that he passed along the documents facsimiles of which were printed in the magazine, but admits that he himself was passed copies from a source he says he cannot reveal.

Um amigo de uma emissora de TV me disse no domingo que o serviço de inteligência do Governo sabia quem estava com cópias dos três falsos dossiês e que sua emissora estava no encalço destas pessoas.

A friend of mine at a TV channel told me Sunday that the government’s intelligence service knew who had copies of three phony dossiers, and that his news organization was on the trail of these persons.

Mas me parece que o “furo” do Noblat também furou a emissora que estava pronta para dar a notícia do vazamento do “dossiê” pelo Senador do PSDB.

But it seems that Noblat’s “scoop” also scooped this TV channel, which was ready to put the story on the air about the leaking of the “dossier” by the PSDB senator.

Foi uma maneira de manter aquela máxima do jornalismo:

It was a way of observing that maxim of journalism:

“Vamos dar primeiro a notícia para não sermos furados pela concorrência”

“Let us run the story first so as not to be scooped by the competition.”

Do Terra Magazine

From Terra Magazine:

O senhor admitiu que viu as informações antes de elas serem tornadas públicas. Em que circunstâncias isso aconteceu?

You have admitted that you saw this information before it was made public. In what circumstances did this occur?

Álvaro Dias – Olha, o jornalismo investigativo tem prestado um grande serviço ao País, seria muito pior a degradação das instituições, não fosse a competência e a ousadia do nosso jornalismo de investigação. E isso se dá em razão de fontes. O jornalistas se utiliza de muitas fontes. Uma revista do porte da Veja, que só no escândalo do mensalão divulgou, se não me falha a memória, matérias de capa 17 vezes, não contou com apenas uma fonte. Certamente valeu-se de muitas fontes de informação. Eu tenho sido ouvido por muitos jornalistas, do Terra, de outros sites, de jornais, emissoras de TV e certamente outros parlamentares da mesma forma. Esse é o caminho para se produzir a informação.

Álvaro Dias: Look here, investigative journalism has done this country a great service, the degradation of its would be much worse if it were not for the competence and daring of our investigative journalists.

He is changing the subject while filibustering, note.

And this is because of sources. Journalists use many sources. A magazine of Veja‘s stature, which on the “big monthly allowance” affair ran, if memory serves, 17 cover stories, does not use just one source.

Oh, yes, it does.

The Calheiros scandal was sourced entirely to the palimony lawyer of the “sex senator’s” baby mom.

Who negotiated the appearance of the baby mom in Veja‘s sister publication, Playboy Brasil.

Which is how we all came to know what Mônica has tattooed on her ass.

It most certainly used other sources of information. I have been interviewed by many journalists, from Terra, from other Web sites, from newspapers, TV, as other lawmakers have certainly been. That is the way to produce information.

Move to strike as nonresponsive.

O senhor então foi uma das fontes de informação desses jornalistas?

So were you one of the sources of information for these journalists?

É evidente que é meu dever responder questões formuladas por jornalistas, e eu tenho feito. Obviamente, o que pretende o governo agora é tirar o foco, o governo não quer mostrar as suas contas. Mostra as do governo passado mas esconde as suas. E pretende exatamente desviar o foco do debate.

Obviously, it is my duty to respond to questions posed by journalists, and I have done so. Obviously, what the government means to do here is change the focus, the government does not want to reveal its accounts. It shows the accounts from the past government but will not show its own. And its intent is precisely to change the subject of the debate.

Still has not answered the question.

O senhor então foi fonte de informação do jornalista da Veja? Não a única, mas uma das?

So were you the source of the information for the Veja journalist? Not the only source, but one of them.

He refuses to answer the question.

(silêncio) Qual é a importância disso? Eu pergunto. Obviamente a Veja tem fontes no Palácio do Planalto… Qual é o ilícito em conversar com jornalistas, como eu estou conversando com você? Qual é o ilícito? Enfim, é surrealista essa história. Acho que o governo subestima a inteligência das pessoas, preparando uma estratégia como essa, tentnado repassar responsabilidades. Se eventualmente contribuí com informações para que a matéria pudesse ser veiculada, altera a responsabilidade do governo na confecção do dossiê? É evidente que não. Isso exime o governo de responsabilidade? É óbvio que não. Então não há porque priorizar essa discussão, que a partir de ontem à tarde, priorizaram.

[Silence.] What does it matter? I ask you. Obviously Veja has sources inside the executive office building. What is so wrong about talking to journalists, as I am talking to you? What is so wrong with that? I mean, this whole story is surreal. I think the government underestimates the intelligence of people, coming up with a strategy like this, trying to pin the blame on someone else. Suppose I did contribute information so the story could be published, does it alter the fact that the government ginned up this dossier? Clearly not. Does this exonerte the government of responsibility? Clearly not. So there is no reason to dwell on this subject, which they started dwelling on yesterday afternoon.

Still has not answered the question.

Certo. E se não há ilícito nenhum, também não há problema nenhum em admitir que o senhor foi uma das fontes, certo?

Right. So if there is nothing wrong with it, there is also nothing wrong with admitting that you were one of the sources, right?

Uma das fontes é natural que eu tenha sido. Provavelmente alguma opinião minha pode ter tido alguma importância. Acho que estão superdimensionando a minha capacidade de obter informações.

Naturally I would have been one of the sources. Probably some opinion of mine might have had some importance. I think my capacity for gathering information has been overestimated.

Hard to translate that response, with its tortuous syntax.

“One of the sources, it is (only) natural that I had (would have) been.”

Reminds me of that moment in All The President’s Men when Redford and Hoffman are sitting around trying to parse the evasive answer of a source, as to whether or not it constitutes a “non-denial denial.”

Entendi. Maso senhor obteve esse dossiê de que maneira? No Palácio do Planalto?

I understnd. But you obtained this dossier how? From the presidential office building?

Eu não tenho o dossiê. Eu tenho informações sobre o dossiê. Como muitos possuem. Agora, quem mais tem informações sobre o dossiê é o presidente da República e a ministra Dilma (Rousseff, da Casa Civil). Ela mesma, em São Paulo, no dia 17 de fevereiro, declarou taxativamente: “não vamos apanhar quieto, estamos fazendo levantamento de dados do governo passado”. Ela sim tem todas as informações e é a melhor fonte.

I do not have the dossier. I have information about the dossier. As many people do. Now, the one who has the most information about the dossier is the President and Minister Dilma. She herself, on February 17, insisted: “We are not going to just still and take this, we are looking into data from the past government.” She has all the information and is the best source.

Really? Did Minister Dilma leak the dossier to Veja? In order to demonstrate that Cardoso scandalously ordered extra melted butter on his lobster while dining with the head of state of Botswana or something?

Fascinating.

From the Agência Senado just now:

O senador Alvaro Dias reafirmou há pouco que não tem de revelar o nome da pessoa que lhe passou as informações sobre gastos de cartões corporativos do ex-presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso. O senador citou a Constituição (artigo 53, parágrafo 6º) ao alegar que os parlamentares não são obrigados a testemunhar sobre informações recebidas em razão do exercício do mandato nem sobre as pessoas que lhe confiaram as informações. Ontem, ele já havia sido questionado no Plenário do Senado apra revelar a fonte dos dados.

Senator Dias has just reiterated that he cannot reveal the name of the person who passed him the information on corporate credit card charges by former president Cardoso. He cited Article 53, Paragraph 6 of the Constitution and said lawmakers cannot be compelled to testify about informaion they receive in the course of their official duties, nor about persons who supply them with information. He had been questioned on the floor of the Senate yesterday and asked to reveal his source.

O senador foi questionado na CPMI dos Cartões sobre as declarações de que teve acesso ao suposto dossiê. O blog do jornalista Ricardo Noblat divulgou ontem que o senador paranaense teria sido a fonte das informações de matéria da revista Veja sobre o assunto. Dias citou, no entanto, blog da prória Veja, no qual o jornalista Reinaldo Azevedo afirma que o senador “não é ‘a’ fonte da revista” e, se fosse, não teria agido sozinho.

The Senator was questioned in the bicameral commission of inquiry into the use of corporate credit cards by the executive branch about statements to the effect that he had access to the alleged dossier. Noblat’s blog published a note yesterday saying that the senator from Paraná was the source of the information published by Veja magazine. Dias, however, cited Veja’s own blog, in which journalist Reinaldo Azevedo stated that the senator “was not the magazine’s source,” and, if he was, he would not have acted alone.

“He was not our source, and he was not our only source”? I will have to read that.

Dias citou ainda a coluna do jornalista Cláudio Humberto, de 9 de fevereiro, que dizia que o governo Lula se preparava para expor eventuais extravagâncias do governo passado. Dias também lembrou que, por volta de 17 de fevereiro, a ministra-chefe da Casa Civil, Dilma Rousseff, disse que o governo não iria apanhar quieto e que estava preparando um levantamento sobre gastos do governo FHC. No dia 19 de fevereiro, a Agência Estado noticiava que o Palácio do Planalto preparava dossiê para enfrentar a CPMI dos Cartões.

Dias also cited the column of journalist Cláudio Humberto from February 9, which said that the Lula administration was getting ready to reveal supposed extravagant spending by the last administration. He also recalled that on February 17 or thereabouts, Minister Dilma said the government was not going to take it quietly and was researching spending by the Cardoso government. On February 19, the Agência Estado news agency reorted that the presidency was preparing a dossier for the congressional probe.

Humberto — reputedly a good buddy of the Times‘ man in Copacaban, Larry Rohter, but I do not know that for a fact — was the press secretary for President Collor. I was just reading about the guy in Notícias do Planalto.

Alvaro Dias disse que informou o ex-presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso de que estava sendo elaborado um dossiê sobre os cartões corporativos. Segundo o senador, FHC disse que essas contas nunca foram sigilosas.

Dias said he told former president Cardoso that a dossier was being prepared on corporate credit cards. According to the senator, Cardoso told him that information was never classified.

Cardoso really ought to just go off and build habitats for humanity like Jimmy Carter, or run a hedge fund like Al Gore, or advise a private equty firm like Bush, Sr.

O senador afirma que não cometeu crime. “Réu é quem denuncia ou quem comete o crime?”, questionou.

The senator said he had committed no crfime. “Is the defendant the one who reports the crime or the one who committed it?”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s