The Invisible President

Press contributes to separation of Jair Bolsonaro from the disaster of his government

It started on Friday (18), with a headline in the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper: "Parallel Pastors Office Controls Ministry of Education's Agenda and Funds." Gilmar Silva dos Santos and Arilton Moura are identified by the newspaper as "a parallel cabinet that facilitates the access of other people to the minister."

In a video, recorded in Centro Novo do Maranhão (MA), last year, Milton Ribeiro, flanked by lobbyists, justifies the scheme: "We've already done it in some places. No politics, no speech by any parliamentarian. But it's technical."

The second blow came out of Folha, on Monday (21): "Minister of Education says he prioritizes pastor's friends at Bolsonaro's request; listen to audio." The minister's speech is crystal clear: "So the support we ask for is no secret... it's support for building churches."

The following day, there was already a lot of screaming around the recording obtained by Folha, when Estadão appeared with another one, of a mayor reporting an unusual request for a bribe: "Pastor asked for 1 kg of gold to release money at the MEC, says mayor ; listen to audio".

(Parallel comment, expressions like "listen to audio", "watch video", "understand" are the crutches of current journalism, conditioned by the search for audience, a nuisance; soon we will have to dance on TikTok to tell that Russia invaded Ukraine.)

On Wednesday (23), it was O Globo's turn to find another type of complaint: "Mayor says that lobbyist pastor asked for bribes even in bibles to release MEC resources." On Thursday (24), Jornal Nacional identified a new character, who offered to mediate the release of funds.

It has been a long time since such artillery was seen against a politician. A Bolsonarista observer could even say that it is a campaign. When ammunition is plentiful, however, it is more likely that there will be a lot of people inside the gear itself wanting to see Ribeiro on the scaffold. More than one analyst described the MEC as a kind of twilight between the day of the evangelical bench and the night of the center.

While all this was happening, Jair Bolsonaro was fulfilling the items of his battered but so far efficient crisis manual, which provides for progressive actions, such as ignoring, minimizing, cursing, talking about God, diverting attention, defending himself. Ribeiro is one of yours until further notice. "Rare thing for me to say here: I put my whole face on fire for Milton. They are doing cowardice against him", said the president in live.

It is cowardice against Milton, not against his minister or his government. Bolsonaro used the same tactic in the Wal do Açaí case, revealed by Folha during the presidential campaign. Cowardice, slutty, her crime was taking care of the dogs. Corruption does not exist, what exists is malice against your own. It sounds like a detail, but note that, in the headlines cited, the word "Bolsonaro '' appears only once.

Bolsonaro doesn't get burned. Depending on the moment, inflation is Guedes's fault, gasoline, the general in charge of Petrobras, the crisis, the states. The president is critical of the government itself, and the uncritical record of statements, another plague of current journalism, actively contributes to making this plausible.

In a recent interview, a Ukrainian author says that the West not only accepts but reproduces the argument that Russia is threatened by Ukraine and NATO. The truth, according to him, is that Russia does not see itself threatened because nobody threatens an atomic power like Russia. Putin invaded because he wanted to and this absurd gesture is dissolved in foolish attempts at explanation.

Bolsonaro dissolves into explanations until he becomes invisible.


Readers complain about the word "pastor" in Folha's headlines about the MEC scandal. He states that his grandfather, for more than 40 years, was a Lutheran pastor in Joinville and, when he died, left an old house and a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle as patrimony. .

On second thought, I understood the obvious risk of making generalizations. The truth is that we assume it every day in this profession.


Readers complain about the treatment given by Folha to the news that Deltan Dallagnol will be forced to compensate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the embarrassment of Powerpoint. They remember that, in 2016, the newspaper gave a headline to the now ex-prosecutor. On Wednesday's Front Page (23), the end of the telenovela deserved a simple headline, below the fold.

Reinaldo Azevedo, in his last column, even suggested a mea culpa to the non-militant press. "It was called 'big' back in the day," he nudged.

The media's mea culpa in the coverage of Lava Jato will come along with that of the PT. Never.

José Henrique Mariante
Trained as an engineer and journalist, Mariante has been a reporter, correspondent, editor and editorial secretary at Folha, where he has worked since 1991. He is the ombudsman.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon