Analysis: As Brazil cracks down on fake news, Bolsonaro’s new move is straight out of Trump’s playbook
By Jana A. Snyder and Astrid Alves and John Byrne and Alex Liddicoat
The story of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s surprise decision to crack down on fake news has similarities to President Donald Trump’s fight against fake news and Russian propaganda, according to a new book on Bolsonaro that traces how the president became a global pariah.
In a book called Memoirs of a Future Brazil: The Authoritarians, Brazilians, and the Future of the Country Without Democracy, by Brazilian journalist Rafael Uzarana, Bolsonaro has been described as a “Trump before him.”
While Bolsonaro’s presidency has been criticized as anti-transformation, Uzarana argues that Bolsonaro would be a “good president if he had stopped being a demagogue in early 2015,” around the time he began to be seen as an authoritarian leader.
In early 2015, a story about Bolsonaro in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo caused controversy in Brazil – one that would later give rise to Trump’s media criticism.
“Trump was the first to call the newspaper ‘fake news,’ and his tweet showed how he was using the term from the early phases of his presidential campaign,” writes Uzarana. He adds that Trump’s use of the term during the campaign was reminiscent of Bolsonaro’s use of it.
But, as he has continued to grow his campaign to transform the country from a democratic dictatorship to a constitutional democracy, Trump – and Bolsonaro, as we’ll see – have adopted some of the same strategies and tactics.
The author of the book describes Trump’s approach to politics as “unconventional,” adding that the Trump presidency has left a mark on the world.
‘He would be a good president if he had stopped being a demagogue’