Globo among those to suspend reporting owing to harassment by president’s supporters
Some of Brazil’s top news organisations are to suspend reporting from outside the presidential residence in the latest sign of deteriorating press freedoms under the country’s media-bashing president, Jair Bolsonaro.
The decision – the equivalent of British outlets ceasing to report from outside No 10 – follows months of verbal attacks on reporters outside the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília by hardcore supporters of the far-right president.
The harassment reached new heights on Monday as journalists were subjected to a vicious torrent of abuse from Bolsonaristas, with footage showing reporters being called scum, rats, extortionists, rogues, crooks and sons of bitches.
“Communist, sellout media. Bunch of crooks,” one man shouted.
The news organisations withdrawing journalists include the television broadcasters Globo and Band, the radio station CBN, the websites G1 and Metrópoles and a trio of leading newspapers – Valor Econômico, O Globo and Folha de São Paulo.
“The lack of security for its journalists outside the Palácio da Alvorada has led Grupo Globo to decide that its professionals will no longer work there,” Brazil’s largest media group said in a statement.
Verbal attacks on journalists have become a hallmark of Bolsonaro’s presidency, with Brazil’s Trump-admiring leader often egging on supporters outside his home.
Bolsonaro’s third son, Eduardo, who is the representative of Steve Bannon’s far-right The Movement in South America – regularly attacks what he calls the “extrema imprensa” (extreme press) .
On Monday, the president suggested Brazil’s overseas image was being damaged by a leftwing media conspiracy, after the British Daily Telegraph described him as “the man who broke Brazil” because of his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Trump suffers a lot with this,” Bolsonaro said.
Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the Bolsonarian attacks on the media.
Alessandro Molon, a member of the Brazilian Socialist party who is leader of the opposition in the chamber of deputies, told Folha de São Paulo: “This just shows the extent to which Bolsonaro remaining in the presidency threatens our democracy and our fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. What we are witnessing is very serious. Either our institutions stop Bolsonaro or he will destroy the country.”
Manuela D’Ávila, from the Communist party of Brazil, tweeted: “It is absurd that [these organisations] … have to suspend their coverage outside the palace because the president disrespects, threatens and incites his followers to attack journalists.”
Vera Magalhães, a prominent political journalist, tweeted: “Brazil no longer enjoys full freedom of the press.”