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In Bolsonaro's New Brazil, Far-Right Evangelical Billionaire's Media Empire Is Being Exploited to Investigate Journalists

Edir Macedo, known as The Bishop, is now an explicit supporter of  far-right extremist and presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro 

Brazil's far-right, scandal-plagued, evangelical pastor-billionaire Edir Macedo is supporting Jair Bolsonaro ahead of the upcoming presidential runoff election.

Brazil's far-right, scandal-plagued, evangelical pastor-billionaire Edir Macedo is supporting Jair Bolsonaro ahead of the upcoming presidential runoff election. (Photo: Ricardo Stuckert/Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Throughout 2018, The Intercept has published some of the most aggressive and widely read investigative reporting in Portuguese that has been critical of the Bolsonaro movement. Indeed, long before a Bolsonaro presidency was even thinkable, when he was still a fringe member of Congress, The Intercept has been critically covering him; in a 2014 article, after he told a female colleague in Congress that she was too ugly to “deserve” his rape, we pronounced him “the most misogynistic, hateful democratic official in the democratic world.” Late last year, Bolsonaro, to his large Twitter following, used an ugly epithet for LGBTs to, in essence, pronounce me a faggot after I described him as a fascist.

The Intercept has also, in a series of investigative articles written by Brazilian journalists for The Intercept, shed extensive light on the strangely stalled police investigation into the assassination last March of Rio de Janeiro City Councilwoman Marielle Franco, the black, LGBT, favela-born, leftist human rights activist who devoted her career to denouncing police abuse and human rights violations until assassins ended her life with four bullets in her head, as she rode in a car on a Rio street.

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Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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