A Punch in the News

Journalism loses out when emotions take over

This week, The Intercept's founding journalist, Glenn Greenwald, was assaulted by fellow journalist Augusto Nunes during a radio show.
The encounter took place on the Jovem Pan Pânico show and did not last long. In just over four minutes, Nunes punched Glenn.

The episode is not good for journalism and reflects the current extreme environment in Brazil. It is unusual to see a professional colleague acting like this.

In a turbulent political scenario, some journalists and media outlets throw insults in the name of taking sides — which eventually erodes journalistic activity.

Care must be taken to talk about polarization in this case. Both make their positions clear: Glenn is progressive, leftist, and Nunes is right, on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

Despite their apparent polarization on political issues, no one on the show was discussing topics such as using illegally sourced material to produce reporting.  The Intercept, along with vehicles like Folha, has published a series of reports based on leaked conversations between Car Wash prosecutors and then judge Sergio Moro.

Nunes denies the journalistic value of the material produced from the leaked conversations, but instead of discussing this, he preferred to take personal shots at Glenn.

"Glenn Greenwald spends the day tweeting or working with stolen messages. This David [Miranda, Glenn's husband, and PSOL deputy] stays in Brasilia and probably gets kickbacks from his employees. Who takes care of the children they adopted? That's where the juvenile court should investigate," Nunes said in August on his Jovem Pan program.

At Thursday's meeting (7), Glenn says he had not been informed that Nunes would be on the show as well and, seeing him, brought up his children.

Nunes denied that he had said what Glenn said and said the journalist did not have enough Portuguese to identify "ironies or a humorous attack" — subterfuge typical of those who use prejudice.

That's when Glenn called Nunes a coward six times, and Nunes reacted violently.

Glenn went on the show at the radio's invitation and couldn't have imagined that he would be punched by a professional of the program.

Like other experts, the journalist is expected to be prepared and behave with common sense. The interviewee may even lose his piece of mind. The reporter does not.

Glenn has called colleagues corrupt, which is not good practice. But it never came close to physical aggression.

In the case of Jovem Pan, the radio show has the right to conduct its programs as it sees fit. But the encouragement of arguments does not make it the most appropriate arena for debate. But this attracts listeners.

After the boxing match, Glenn asked the presenter if he thought the act was justified.

"Of course not," Emilio Surita said, then immediately justified the situation. "You called the guy a coward, and he lost his temper," he said. "I won't allow you to take the microphone and say, 'Oh, I went on Young Pan, and I was beaten.' Don't try to play the victim."

To top it off, Folha gave the imbroglio an inaccurate title, saying that journalists "exchanged punches on a program". It correctly changed it to "Journalist Augusto Nunes attacks Glenn Greenwald, who retaliates."

Social media went crazy. Nunes said he regretted what happened. The radio show apologized and said it renounces such behavior.

It is worrying that when emotions are hot that we forget that journalism is a profession.

The episode throws fuel into the widespread hatred encircling Brazil, encouraging such conduct.

It is curious that, before the punch, Nunes said that Glenn's complaint was proof that the country had created the "The Brazilian Wild Wild West." "Who has to explain is who commits crimes."

As it turned out, the bang-bang didn't leave Glenn, and as far as anyone knows, he didn't commit any crime.

Trying to offend a family that one created is not journalism and only feeds intolerance.

Better did Tucker Carlson, anchor of the conservative American television network Fox News.

Carlson has already interviewed Glenn, with whom he has strong disagreements. In late July, however, aware of the threats of prosecution of Glenn over Vaza Jato, he defended the journalist's work in the name of freedom of the press.

"Policy is polarized in the United States and apparently also in Brazil. But the appropriate way to resolve this is the debate," he said.
The Brazilian press lacks this understanding of its role.
And it is more current than ever at a time when Bolsonaro is the President of the Republic, and former President Lula has just been released.

Flavia lima

A reporter specializing in economics, she holds a degree in social science from USP and a law degree from Mackenzie. She has been an ombudsman for Folha since May 2019.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon