Interview with David Renault

“Media coverage about corruption may set new parameters of social behaviour”

David Renault is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Communication in the University of Brasília, in Brazil, and is currently carrying out a Post-Doc Research project in the Communication & Society Research Centre, in the University of Minho. His research stands in a comparative analysis of the media coverage towards the recent corruption scandals “Lava Jato” and “Operação Marquês”, in Brazil and Portugal.


In your opinion, what has been the most intriguing aspect of both corruption scandals?

In Portugal, this is a very recent case, based upon a single person and a political party. In Brazil, we have no such thing. All suspicions are throughout the political parties and very few people are escaping from criminal charges. If we wanted to measure, it was like if the scandal here in Portugal was the same one that Brazil had with the Oil company Petrobras. This unbalanced framework is an important bias of this research, but I would say that the centrality of the accusation, regarding José Sócrates [former Portuguese Prime Minister], is the most curious aspect of Portugal’s current case.


Can we compare Sócrates and Lula in the media coverage? [Audio only in Portuguese]

In “Operação Marquês”, in Portugal, media attention started to focus on the judge, the public promotor and the attorney of Sócrates, as they emerged as crucial media figures as well. In Brazil, does it happen as well?

Sure it did. Paraná judge, Sérgio Moro, is a key figure in the process and in the media. He has been conducting this process in a very wise and clever way. But there are others. I shall put Lula aside from the rest. The public promoter, Rodrigo Janot and the main legal responsible of the accusation, Teori Zavascki, whom recently passed away, after a plane crash. In the business scope, Marcelo Odebrechet, former president of the Odebrechet group, UTC, Andrade Gutierrez and Camargo Corrêa groups, all these civil constructors are involved in this.

What kind of social and political consequences may arise from these scandals? [Audio only in Portuguese]

How do you see the media coverage towards corruption scandals, in this early stage of your research?

The Labour Party (PT) was elected without the support of the media and this is the biggest feature of their victory. Lula was then elected based on an ethical discourse, standing in the frontline towards corruption. As years went by, PT was the most sacrificed political party for supposed corruption claims. Corruption is no recent situation in Brazil, it was always been present. Now we are seeing that these scandals are in a much wider proportion. The Public Ministry has been the most influential entity to pressure the quick resolution of this case. Through a system where the suspects could collaborate in the process, thus benefiting with reduced criminal charges. This has been fundamental to find the implication of political parties in corruption networks.

Your focus is on the news discourse about these scandals. How do you see the media coverage in this regard? [Audio only in Portuguese]

Why did you choose the University of Minho and CECS for this research?

The Faculty of Communication and the University of Brasília have been for a while in a mutual process of collaboration, in the communication policies area. So, I decided that it could be interesting to carry out a research like this, a comparative one, because it would be a way to develop the media studies field as well. Both countries have similarities in the way they are handling these scandals.


Interview and photo: Fábio Ribeiro