Newspaper omits defeats and cries victories Justice

Newspaper omits defeats and cries victories

If a famous politician is condemned for calumniating a famous journalist - that’s news, correct? Certainly. If a famous journalist is condemned for defaming a famous politician - that’s news, correct? Well, it depends.

Readers of "O Estado" were informed, in September 14, that Francisco Rossi, a politician, PDT’s candidate to the government of São Paulo in the last elections, was condemned to pay an indemnification equivalent to one hundred minimum salaries to journalist Fausto Macedo. During his campaign, Rossi referred to the journalist as "Trombadinha de Jornal" (Infant delinquent working in a newspaper", during a radio broadcast. Macedo was offended and used an instrument which is older than the freedom of the press - the action at law. Judge Dimas Borelli Thomaz Jr., from the 30th civil court, according to "O Estado", gave the sentence only nine months after, considering that "it is a matter of right and dispenses proofs". Therefore, the readers were informed that a politician cannot insult a journalist without punishment.

However, the readers have not been informed that Ruy Mesquita, one of the shareholders and director responsible for "Jornal da Tarde", was condemned to three months of detention and a fine of two minimum salaries for defaming former governor Orestes Quercia in the editorial of JT in December 15, 1993. The newspaper also did not informed its readers that Júlio de Mesquita Neto sued, and lost, former governor Orestes Quércia for defaming. This case shall be studied: the owner of a newspaper sued a politician (also a newspaper owner...), based on the law of the press, for declarations to a competitor newspaper.

During his presidential campaign, a reporter from Folha asked Quércia about the reasons of the hostility he was suffering from Estado and published his answer: "I denounced Júlio Mesquita of a stroke on the stock exchange of São Paulo". According to Quércia’s lawyer, Antônio Cláudio Mariz, the fact is true, and Mesquita was not sued because he paid his debits with the government. When Quércia’s declaration was published in "A Folha de São Paulo" in May 9, 1994, Mesquita presented a criminal complaint to the 17th Criminal Court of São Paulo, but judge Klaus Arroyo decided that there was no offense to the journalist. Mesquita appealed and the court also rejected the criminal complaint.

We shall extract three reflections out of this case: 1) When a politician sues a journalist it is a scandal: he is accused of restricting the freedom of the press; if the politician loses - it’s news; if he wins nothing is published; 2) Journalists do not give support to the law of the press, they refer to this law as "law of dictatorship", because it was promulgated in 1967, during the government of Costa e Silva, however they use the "law of dictatorship" when it is interesting to their objectives; 3) Proceedings involving the media, either as authors or defendants, have to be published obligatorily: first, because it is news; and second, because the newspapers have to publish their proceedings the same way the publish others.