In Lula’s first 100 days, journalism once again dealt with a President of the Republic who does not create daily factoids to hijack public debate, does not have a “playpen” of fans at the door of the Alvorada Palace and has no method of attacking press professionals women. But returning to normal coverage of the federal government is not an easy task, as for four years we got used to following Bolsonaro. And he will continue to haunt.
Regardless of the adjective you want to give to our ex (coup leader, corrupt, genocidal…), it is not possible to ignore that his communication managed to keep him, uninterruptedly, as one of the main subjects of the country, of the inauguration on the first day of 2019 until October 30 of last year – when it submerged in the face of defeat in the second round.
The strategies of Carluxo and the Cabinet of Hatred created empty polemics with the objective of guaranteeing the father in the news, being omnipresent in the social networks of the democratic field and leaving faithful followers constantly excited – and, in this way, ready to defend the “myth” . Or simply to create an ever-useful smokescreen – when Brazil broke a record of deaths from covid-19 or when a new corruption allegation emerged, he would say some violent nonsense that dispersed the focus on what was actually relevant.
Reporting on Jair’s noise was easier than covering the correct or incorrect implementation of public policies.
Around his 100th day, Jair Bolsonaro lied in the United States that the communists were close to conquering Brazil, rewrote the history books saying that the country had never gone through a military dictatorship, released videos of a golden shower at Carnival and stated in the Holocaust Museum, to the astonishment of Israelis, that Nazism is on the left.
The former president was the greatest threat to the exercise of press freedom in the country during his term, according to the Reports on Violence against Journalists and Freedom of the Press in Brazil, prepared by Fenaj (National Federation of Journalists). From 2019 to 2022, he carried out 570 attacks on media outlets and professionals in the area, an average of 142.5 attacks per year. One attack every two and a half days.
Does this mean that Lula is a saint? Far from it. Just to cite one case, the “fuck Moro” package (the wish he had when he was arrested and expressed during an interview) and “Moro’s frame” (when he insinuated that the Federal Police operation to dismantle PCC threats to authorities was a lie ) is enough to show that the president sometimes talks so much that he ends up saying good morning to the horse.
But its first 100 days were not marked by an attempt to hijack the agenda with factoids that had no importance for the country, as happened with Bolsonaro. On the contrary, the PT pressured his ministers to publicize actions that nullified the civilizing setbacks perpetrated by Jair. This is showing service and not occupying space due to the lack of something to show.
This beginning of the government also made it clear that the Lula government learned lessons from its predecessor in terms of communication. He does not have a spokesperson, as in previous terms, preferring to give frequent exclusive and press conferences or let his ministers pass messages. He must also speak more directly to the public, as Jair did, but without forgetting the press.
He has also realized that the weight of the government can be used in his favor on social networks, where Bolsonarism is no exception. Research Quaest pointed out that the disclosure of the new tax rule won the return of Jair Bolsonaro from the United States in mentions on social networks on March 30. Clearly the date was handpicked by the political area, irritating the defeated opponent in the elections.
The point is that Bolsonaro did not leave the news and social networks, on the contrary. The difference is that, if before, he appeared in the politics section, now he shares space with police matters. And he will pop up even more as more management skeletons of him are uncovered.
The Bolsonarist coup attempt on January 8, his self-exile in the United States, the millionaire jewelry scandal he tried to pilfer, the revelation of his high expenses on his corporate card, the TSE processes that could lead to his ineligibility, all of this keeps it in the headlines of communication vehicles – for better and for worse. For, to his herd, overexposure is proof that he is being “wronged”.
Living with this ghost, who is now back in Brazil, is a challenge for Lula. He was advised to avoid talking about Senator Sergio Moro and Bolsonaro, leaving criticism to his advisors. But that’s not enough. You will need to invest more in communication because the digital electoral war starts again in 2024, with the dispute for city halls. If you want to prevent the far right from coming back in 2026, you will have to win this battle.
In the midst of all this, it is up to us, who cover power, to reflect a little. Journalism serves, essentially, to inspect and monitor. And there is an anxiety for the approval of economic measures. But measuring this and the next administrations by the crazy pace of information released by Jair is a mistake. Also because a large part of what he did was wind, form without content.
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