Brazil’s Bolsonaro Renews Attacks On Media

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures as he speaks to supporters outside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on July 22, 2020. EVARISTO SA / AFP
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures as he speaks to supporters outside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on July 22, 2020. EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro lashed out again at journalists Monday, a day after threatening to punch a reporter who questioned him about corruption accusations involving the first lady.

Speaking at an event called “Brazil Beating COVID,” Bolsonaro accused journalists of “malevolence” and “debauchery,” and added that they were “fat-asses” at high risk from the new coronavirus.

The far-right leader, who caught the virus himself in July, said he had recovered thanks to his past as an “athlete” in the army, where he served as captain.

“But when one of you fat-asses catches it, the chances of survival are far less. You only know how to use your pens malevolently,” he told journalists covering the event.

The outburst came a day after Bolsonaro, 65, threatened a reporter who asked him about allegations his wife, Michelle, received money from a political operative targeted in a corruption investigation.

“I so want to pound your mouth with punches,” Bolsonaro told the reporter from leading newspaper O Globo.

Known as the “Tropical Trump,” Bolsonaro has had a tense relationship with the press since taking office in January 2019.

Brazil’s National Journalists’ Federation counted 116 times he attacked the news media last year.

Bolsonaro also used Monday’s event to reiterate his praise for the drug hydroxychloroquine against the coronavirus.

Bolsonaro has railed against the use of lockdown measures to contain COVID-19, instead pushing the anti-malaria drug, despite a slate of scientific studies finding it ineffective against the virus.

“You’ve saved thousands and thousands of lives in Brazil,” he told a group of doctors that, like him, backs using the drug on COVID-19 patients.

“If hydroxychloroquine hadn’t been politicized, a lot more lives could have been saved.”

Bolsonaro has repeatedly credited hydroxychloroquine with his own recovery from coronavirus.

Brazil has the second-highest number of infections and deaths in the pandemic, after the United States: more than 3.6 million and 115,000, respectively.

 

-AFP

Twitter, Facebook Block Accounts Of Bolsonaro Allies

 

 

Twitter and Facebook suspended the accounts Friday of 16 allies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro after a Supreme Court judge ordered them blocked as part of a probe into an alleged disinformation campaign.

Tension has been soaring between the far-right leader and the court, which is investigating allegations that members of his inner circle ran a social media campaign to discredit the court, as well as slander and threaten its judges.

The two US social media giants are also facing increasing pressure to act more aggressively against hate speech and false information on their platforms.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes said in his court order — which enforced an earlier May ruling — the accounts must be blocked to stop “the ongoing dissemination of fake news, slanderous accusations, threats and crimes” against the court.

The affected accounts include high-profile figures such as conservative former lawmaker Roberto Jefferson, business magnate Luciano Hang and far-right activist Sara Winter.

Visitors to their Facebook and Twitter pages in Brazil, though not other countries, saw messages indicating they were blocked.

“This content isn’t available right now,” read their Facebook pages.

A Twitter notice explained: “Account withheld in Brazil in response to a legal demand”.

A linked message said the company “was compelled to withhold the original Tweet in response to a valid legal demand, such as a court order.”

The owners of the blocked accounts reacted furiously.

Winter called the court order worthy of a “dictatorship,” while Jefferson drew a comparison to Nazi Germany.

 

 

-AFP