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The Bolsonaro Administration’s Campaign of “Fake News”

The Bolsonaro Administration’s Campaign of “Fake News”

Analysis: As Brazil cracks down on fake news, Bolsonaro’s new move is straight out of Trump’s playbook

By Simon Romero

31 June 2019

The campaign to censor Brazilian news reported in the media on Thursday, June 30, has turned out to be one of the most significant political events since the return to power of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s so-called “miracle man,” in October 2018. Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly promised to reduce corruption, and whose electoral victory represented a complete reversal of the political and social status quo of the “Lava Jato” (“Car Wash”) era, has been accused of having had a hand in the spread of false news through his frequent and highly popular social media accounts, such as Twitter and YouTube.

The Bolsonaro administration has been the target of a steady and systematic campaign of disinformation and censorship. Following the first wave of attacks on the news media that began at the end of April, Bolsonaro’s administration has waged a campaign of “fake news” and other attacks against the media that has gone virtually unchallenged by the media. In one typical case, Bolsonaro made a mockery of his government’s efforts to prevent the spread of fake news with a photo tweet and a video. The picture of Bolsonaro with his father, who allegedly died of liver cancer, was accompanied by a message that the two were both “liver cancer free.” The video showed Bolsonaro’s daughter holding up a sign that read “You’re a great dad” and Bolsonaro’s son pointing to the camera’s view of the sign.

The government has employed a whole range of other tactics in fighting the information war against it. As we have seen in other western democracies, the Bolsonaro administration has set up a system of fake news factories and outlets. These include a web site owned by a government contractor, Mário Negromonte, with links to other government-connected web sites, such as the Ministry of Defense and the Army, that attempt to create the appearance of independent news sources. Meanwhile, the administration has adopted the strategy of sowing confusion and dissent by attacking the news media.

The attacks on the press, as well as other public figures, have been so intense that

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