Brazil's President-Elect Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to withdraw state advertising from Folha de São Paulo, the highest-selling newspaper in the country, after accusing the publication of running "fake news" stories that slur his character.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly stated that he considers himself a defender of free speech and freedom of the press, yet within days of winning last Sunday's presidential run-off, he has declared war on one of Brazil's most influential publications. The move echoes the tactics of US President Donald Trump, who has dismissed stories against him by US publications as "fake news."
“I do not want Folha to cease to exist, but from my perspective a media outlet that acts indignantly will not be given government resources. Folha is running itself into the ground,” the far-right-wing outspoken ex-Army captain said in an interview with TV Globo.
Bolsonaro, who made the comments on Monday, claimed that reports published by the newspaper alleging that his business allies had violated electoral legislation by funding a campaign of false reporting against his former rival, Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party (PT).
Reports in Folha have suggested as much as US$4 million may have been spent on a campaign of fake news stories against the Workers' Party candidate that flooded social networks, especially the WhatsApp instant messaging service, which is hugely popular in Brazil.
On October 20, prior to the run-off election, it emerged that the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court (TSE) had opened an investigation into the alleged production of 'fake news.'
“Almost all the fake news that turned against me started with Folha de São Paulo. Even the latest issue – where I supposedly have hired companies outside Brazil, via businessmen here to spread lies about the Workers' Party. One big lie, one more fake news from the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, regrettably,” Bolsonaro said, responding to the claims.
Bolsonaro’s threats to "end fake news" is only one of the many disturbing promises he made throughout his campaign.
The Brazilian president-elect has promised to weaken gun control laws, jail left-wingers and "commies" and threatened the territories of indigenous populations in Brazil by saying he would allow a greater exploitation of natural resources which are ultimately detrimental to the land and to the world in a time where climate change is rapidly affecting us all.