Everyone’s shocked at Brazil’s new president. Except the BBC, which suggests he’s a ‘refreshing break’

Bolsonaro and BBC Monitoring logo

Many people are shocked at Brazil’s new president-elect. Jair Bolsonaro is openly homophobic, pro-torture, and racist; has advocated abolishing democracy; and may well destroy the Amazon rainforest.

“A refreshing break from political correctness”

Nonetheless, the BBC suggested Bolsonaro could be a “refreshing break”:

In September 2018, the president-elect said of his mainstream political opponents:

We’re going to execute the Workers’ Party members here.

Bolsonaro also uses dangerous rhetoric towards minorities. He said in 2017 that Afro-Brazilian communities are “not even good for procreation”, calls torture a “legitimate practice”, indigenous people “parasites” and is “proud to be homophobic”. Bolsonaro also implied there could be a military coup if he didn’t get his way through Brazil’s electoral system.

Yet the BBC questions whether such views could be a “refreshing break from political correctness”. Later, the public broadcaster claimed only that the “language” of the tweet was wrong:

Persecution: “bad or refreshing”?

On social media, people were shocked:

“A real issue with the far-right”

Others pointed to the BBC’s record of appeasing the far-right:

As Paul Bernal points out, the BBC’s coverage has been sympathetic to EDL founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson). BBC Newsnight has also used imagery to reinforce the perception he’s a silenced free speech advocate:

By contrast, inside accounts of Yaxley-Lennon’s campaign suggest he stokes anti-Muslim prejudice simply for money and power. Lucy Brown, who was Yaxley-Lennon’s assistant until May 2018, has said:

This is a business and your outrage, valid as it is, will be monetised as such.

Yaxley-Lennon and his family now have a £500,000 house and go on regular holidays.

BBC promotes the far-right

Then there’s the BBC platforming and sympathising with far-right strategist Steve Bannon. In an email to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, the BBC described Bannon as a “powerful and influential figure…promoting an anti-elite movement”. Bannon, former chairperson of Breitbart News, stands accused of promoting and participating in racism. For example, Bannon’s ex-wife issued a sworn statement in 2007 accusing Bannon of antisemitic remarks.

Bannon was Donald Trump’s campaign strategist. And he advised Bolsonaro’s presidential campaign, unpaid.

The BBC also supported Brazil’s elite and helped amplify attacks on the Worker’s Party before.

With the ongoing collapse of free-market economics, the far-right is on the rise globally. If the mainstream media continues promoting those scapegoating minority communities, while sidelining or smearing progressives with genuine solutions, we are reaching a dangerous turning point.

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Featured image via FotosBolsonaro/ Flickr

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