As Brazil spirals further into its worst political crisis seen in decades, President Dilma Rousseff has tried to break the one-sided media narrative on the situation that’s been dominated by international press swooning over anti-government protests along with elite-backed local media accused of whipping up support for a coup.
Rousseff held a private media briefing on Thursday with journalists from the New York Times, Guardian, La Jornada, Le Monde, El Pais, and Die Ziet. Meanwhile, she sent her chief of staff Jaques Wagner to meet with other international media in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian media were blocked from attending.
Wagner said Brazilian media coverage is “out of step” with the crisis with “obvious” efforts to campaign tirelessly for a particular end, La Republica reported.
Rousseff spoke about the fragility of Brazil’s relatively young democracy since the military dictatorship ended in 1985, saying that although the days of strong-arm coups are a thing of the past in Latin America, Brazil is living an attempt at a “coup against democracy” through an impeachment process without legal footing.
“We in Brazil have had military coups. In a democratic system, coups change their method,” Rousseff said, according to an interview published Friday in El pais. “And impeachment without legal basis is a coup. It breaks the democratic order. That’s why it’s dangerous.”
And local media has played a role. In Brazil’s intensely concentrated media landscape, outlets like Globo, owned by and aligned with the country’s dictatorship-linked economic elite, have been criticized for “coup-mongering” and supporting the idea of military intervention.
Analyst Sylvia Moretzsohn, media professor at the Fluminense Federal University, argues that Globo has acted more like a political party than a media outlet by using its power to sway public opinion against the president. Moretzsohn told Brasil de Fato that Globo has used the “noble cause” of combatting corruption worked to “create the conditions for a coup.”
OPINION: Overthrowing Dilma Rousseff
With Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, or PT, pushing progressive policies for over a decade since the election of her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2002, the country’s wealthy elite and right-wing political factions have grown frustrated by their inability to boot the PT from power at the ballot box.
Rousseff’s opponents have latched on to widespread corruption scandals and increasing probes into fraud as a justification to try to take down the government by trying to impeach the president or forcing her to resign.
The irony is that opposition politicians, including Vice President Michel Temer, who would take over if Rousseff stepped down and house speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is spearheading the impeachment attempt, are more deeply embroiled in corruption than Rousseff or her PT.
“I recommend that you ask who benefits from this,” Rousseff told El Pais. “Many of whom haven’t even appeared on the scene, but they are behind, at the bottom.”