The highly likely ascension to power of far-right extremist Jair Bolsonaro is already unleashing a climate in which journalists who are critical of him and his movement—including several writing for The Intercept—are being subjected to an aggressive campaign of personal investigation, attempted intimidation, and thuggish scrutiny of family members.
These attacks are being orchestrated by the media outlets owned by a far-right, scandal-plagued, evangelical pastor-billionaire, Edir Macedo (universally known as The Bishop and founder of the sprawling Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), who is now an explicit supporter of Bolsonaro. Macedo’s vast media empire—one that includes the nation’s second-largest TV outlet (Record), online portals (R7) and various other news agencies—is now being flagrantly abused to impose punishment and retaliation against journalists for the crime of reporting critically on Bolsonaro, his movement, and Macedo’s companies.
On Saturday (Oct. 13), The Intercept published, in Portuguese, an exposé on how journalists inside R7, a huge online portal owned by Macedo, are “hostages” to their owner’s agenda, barred from publishing negative stories about Bolsonaro and generally forced to sacrifice their journalistic integrity to serve Macedo’s extremist political agenda. Written for The Intercept by the Brazilian journalist Leandro Demori, the article was based on reports from distraught R7 journalists who spoke anonymously. The article went viral in Brazil, quickly becoming one of the most widely read Intercept articles of the year. On Thursday, in the wake of that reporting, the long-time chief of Record TV’s flagship news program, Luciana Barcelos, resigned.