The Press and Its Idol

Journalism threatens to wear ex-minister Sergio Moro's shirt again

It is too early to assess the media coverage of Sergio Moro, the ex-minister of Justice, and his exit from the Bolsonaro government.

Moro, who left the government accusing President Jair Bolsonaro of politically intervening in investigations by the Federal Police (PF), revealed a clash that will reverberate in politics. The ex-judge judge gave a deposition to the Federal Police on the charges on May 2.

The many reports made on the matter throughout the week explored what he says and the crimes that may have been committed by the president in requesting the Federal Police access to intelligence reports and suggesting investigations.

About Moro, what has not been seen (or read) indicates that, once again, the press is in danger of having his old reverence for the character save him from questioning.
On Friday (24), the day that Moro announced that he would leave the government, Bolsonaro said in a resentful statement that Moro was an idol.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this is how a good part of the press viewed Moro during the years of Operation Car Wash and his period at the head of the super ministry.

In a recent article for Folha, political scientists Fernando Limongi and Argelina Cheiub Figueiredo affirm that the Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello implicitly gave the ex-minister's word more faith than the president's when it accepted a request from the Attorney General's Office to investigate Moro's report.

The press also seems to give more value to the ex-minister's speeches. But it shouldn't. Neither Moro nor anyone should be immune from questioning.
The now ex-Bolsonaro minister cannot return to the pedestal he occupied before the leaks of messages obtained by The Intercept, which questioned his impartiality as a judge and indicated that his methods contained problems.

Moro was never very fond of contradictory — during the Car Wash operation, he even wrote for Folha lamenting the space given to an opinion article criticizing his performance. But the press has (or should have) the adversary as a pillar.

In the days following Moro's testimony, widely circulated newspapers and news channels said that the former judge had inflicted a severe defeat on Bolsonaro, a sort of 7 x 1, which has yet to be confirmed. Except for explicit flattery.

One report said that Moro never went over Bolsonaro's orders to interfere with the Federal Police—which, in a news story, should be attributed to a speech by the former minister himself, and not appear as an unchallenged statement.

Some interviews revealed very little, such as the one Moro granted to Veja Magazine. Moro's interviewer failed to push hard on him.

Moro said, according to the magazine, that he was gradually discovering that he had embarked on a cold front and that he found "funny" people insisting on saying that there could be something wrong with the pension application that he made to Bolsonaro in case something happened to him.

One of the many questions not asked: why would it be funny, is it lawful to make such a request?

Folha tried to escape the sameness. On Sunday (26), a good analysis asked why Moro was silent for so long in the face of the boss's abuses, in addition to bringing up other relevant issues.

In the middle of the week, an article addressed Moro's possible crimes against Bolsonaro, and an expert, in an opinion article, took stock of the former judge at the head of the Ministry of Justice.

There are still many doubts. If it was not the first time that Bolsonaro has shown a willingness to interfere in investigations, was Moro's omission in the face of possible illegal acts by the president? Did Moro answer an improper request? Why did the ex-minister take so long to decide to save his biography, and why did he believe it was intact?

In an interview given in February to Estadão de São Paulo, Rosângela Moro said she saw the government of Jair Bolsonaro and Sergio Moro as unified. What has changed in such a short time?

The former judge's accusations are credible, but there are explanations and evidence to present. In addition, during Car Wash, Moro showed great skill in handling the information he passes on to the press. Journalists cannot forget that.

Leaked messages revealed that some reporters had cultivated inappropriate ties with Moro and the prosecutors in Curitiba, and that cannot happen again in the name of anything.
After a shaky start, the press has a second chance to do coverage journalism involving Sergio Moro again.

Flavia Lima

A Reporter specializing in economics, she graduated in social sciences from USP and in law from Mackenzie. She has been the ombudsman for Folha since May 2019.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon