The Sorcerer, the Apprentice, and the Media

Trump as a candidate challenges journalism, which is mixed up with Bolsonaro's jettisoned

The former American president can be tried during the electoral race and can be elected even while in prison, repeat journalists around the world, many without hiding a certain level of "Schadenfreude", the joy of seeing others getting hurt, given the bizarre political situation in the most powerful country in the world, an example of democracy. At least until the page where his name appears: Donald Trump, the 45th US president, the first to become a defendant, three times, including for trying to reverse his defeat at the polls in 2020.

Trump, the conman, needs to be punished for the infamous January 6th and for the many other crimes he collects. Trump, the candidate, cannot be removed from the electoral dispute, because then American democracy would be at risk, according to himself and, so far, to a good part of the Republicans and their voters.

Amidst all this is the media, which needs to spin the plates, the Trumps, and a general public hostile to journalists. In May, CNN got a serious beating for conducting a town hall with the former president. The host was mocked by the audience and by the interviewee himself for having asked difficult questions. For critics, it is absolute proof that space should not be given to those who occupy it in an impolite and anti-democratic way. The broadcaster, not without reason, claimed the opposite, that it is indeed its role to listen to everyone and even to the worst.

There are also less noble reasons. Trump is an audience machine, dismissing his presence in a debate or interview is not an easy decision. Cable channels in the US are losing their audience. Analysts predict unprecedented fragmentation of US media coverage of the 2024 election, which should undermine forecasts, polls, and priorities.

In Brazil, where Jair Bolsonaro has emulated his American model as much as he can, the candidate version of the former president seems to have been buried. Despite the fact that the side effects of the speed of electoral justice are still uncertain, Bolsonaro is pushing to occupy the position as the compass of the right-wing parties, perhaps because he has no other alternative.

Before the coup-mongering version became popular again, with the parallel trade of Rolex made possible with public money, a note by Folha at the beginning of the week reproduced the fine line experienced by the American media. With the title "Nunes, Tarcísio, and Bolsonaro have lunch to discuss cracolância and elections", the brief article did not go further beyond its headline, without calling attention to the fact that the icon of the PL (Liberal Party) was ineligible or that he had come from the "worst week ever", as described by O Globo newspaper, filled with suspicious bank transfers, precious stones, the first signs of smuggling and Carla Zambelli. More importantly, as recalled in a comment made about the article, without considering what his expertise would be to even be considered to discuss cracolândia.

It is a risk to naturalize Bolsonaro, it is a risk to ignore him and it is not easy to give up what he represents in terms of audience. It's a risk to even treat it as something lame, even if there's plenty of evidence. Being blunt is his defense, his argument. Journalists may find this trivial, but his supporters will perceive him as legitimate, just as Trump's supporters keep feeding the fantasy of him as a top executive.

There's not enough Rolex in the world.


"I'm not as afraid of dying as I am of Folha's obituary." Gregorio Duvivier joked, but the truth is that the newspaper was immolated last week for an absolutely exploitative headline in the coverage of the Brazilian actress Aracy Balabanian's death: "The actress already had an abortion and did not want to get married."

In recent times, Folha has provided moments of controversy in the obituaries of Marília Mendonça, Glória Maria, and Rita Lee, cases covered by the column. As noted by one reader, all women.

If in previous episodes there was at least a shred of relevance, this time it sounded just gratuitous, to the point of being quickly rectified. It is one thing for intimacy, without any direct relation to the portrayed person's professional activity, to be featured in a profile article; it ends up getting absorbed in the middle of the context. Another, quite different, is to have the info loosely misplaced in a flat news headline, generating more noise than memory. It is also impressive that Folha did not learn the lesson that any headline related to an obituary is read as the very thing on the flat earth that is social networks.

"There is no intention of tarnishing the character's memory. Nor do I consider that there was a bias of gender discrimination to support the publication, keeping in mind that it is a subject that concerns the life of the person profiled in the obituary. The report on the death of director William Friedkin, for example, published on the same day, did not fail to highlight his abusive behavior on film sets, which led to ostracism in Hollywood," said Silas Martí, the Culture Editor.

This is the headline on the aforementioned character: "William Friedkin was not lovely, but he was a great film director". Lucky him, for not having had an abortion.

Jose Henrique Mariante

An engineer and journalist, he was a reporter, correspondent, editor, and secretary at Folha, where he has worked since 1991. He is the ombudsman

Translated by Cassy Dias