(Mis)information and elections in Brazil

In addition to the World Cup, Brazil will also have a presidential election this year. Considering the way the discourses in mainstream media and social networks are going, Dilma Rousseff will be in trouble to be reelected.

There are three main candidates: the current president Dilma Rousseff, Aécio Neves and Eduardo Campos (whose vice-president is Marina Silva, who surprisingly got a massive amount of votes as a presidential candidate in 2010).

Very influential media companies, journalists and media personalities have openly or discretely adopted an anti-Dilma position.

Today’s “O Globo” – our biggest quality paper in Rio – exclusively portrays Dilma’s government negatively while presenting the opposition candidates both according to their future plans and as commentators of the failures of the government. It is as if all their past and possibly current wrongdoings and shady relations have been put aside.

But to some extent “O Globo” preaches for the preached (their readership is known to mostly consist of people who do not support the president’s party anyway). The main problem for the president seems to be in media that is more popular (as in accessible by working class and poor people).

I have felt the “fora-Dilma” tone in highly popular radio and television programs.

Yesterday, for instance, Roberto Canázio – one of the most listened radio show hosts – shouted about how Dilma is making the price of beer higher after the World Cup.

Criticism to what has been flagged as government’s populism (ex.: in welfare programs benefiting the poor), communism (ex.: close relationship with Cuba), pro-abortion and pro-homossexuality (for many a sign of lack of proper morality) and lenience to criminality has been heard in TV newscasts, afternoon police programs and evening variety shows very popular among low-income people.

All these discourses reflect the high amount of superficial, sometimes inacurate and ill-informed discussions in social networks where anything negative that happens in the country is listed as Dilma’s fault.

On the one hand, as a media student this is something really interesting to watch. Will this anti-Dilma campaign reflect in the election results? If it does, does it mean the (mis)information attack was successful or that people are actually dissatisfied with the government?

On the other hand, as a citizen this is concerning. If Dilma is re-elected, how will the very vocal crowd against the government react? Will they once again blame the “povo” (often referring to low-income and poorly-educated people) for another bad election voting? With the rise of the eye for an eye idea and the doing justice on one’s own hand, are we to see a clash between anti-government and pro-government groups?

I don’t know.

What I know is that the importance of (mis)information seems to be on the rise in Brazil. And the combination of online gossip, inacurate information and heated reactions to opposing political ideas both in social networks and mainstream media may be very problematic in the very close future.

2 thoughts on “(Mis)information and elections in Brazil

  1. The government has been blaming the media for everything, to the point of blaming the Mesalão Scandal of being a media set up. They keep insisting on the idea that the media is the biggest opposition in Brazil to discredit and create this aura of conspiracy.

    Every now and them we see PT talking about “media control” and proposing new laws to restrict the free press. Apparently the “good media” is the one that talks good things about the government. There are many “good media” agencies out there, all of the get a lot of cash from state sponsored publicity.

    The solution is simple: better education would give the people intellectual foundations to distinguish lies from reality by doing some research and hearing opinions from other members of the society.

    1. I understand there is a lot of conspiracy about the power of the media and their role in the backstage of political processes.

      But my post describes a perception on the discourse of media that calls itself “objective” and “impartial” (two strong values that are completely unreachable in journalism).

      If it is about denouncing wrongdoings of politicians, why not do so in a balanced way against all of them?

      Or at least be honest: say the company supports this or that candidate (like some international papers like NY Times for example) do.

      The history of the media in Brazil is filled with cases in which the media companies have taken sides even while pretending to be neutral.

      What is happening now is just one more episode.

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