Brazil’s press sees U.S. election in own tawdry image

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By Andrea Ayala and Daniel Rayzel
(Additional reporting by Folu Ogundimu)

Fixation with tawdry aspects of the 2016 campaign for the U.S. presidency has made it difficult for Brazilians to understand key issues at stake, say some Brazilian watchers of U.S. politics. Issues that might be of interest to Brazil are often missing or difficult to find because some media outlets focus on negative aspects of the campaign.

The coverage did not help Brazilians understand the importance of the U.S. election for Brazil, said Rodrigo Pinto, a scholar of international relations in Brazil who formerly taught at Michigan State University. The daily newspaper, Jornal de Brasil of Rio de Janeiro, played up Republican candidate Donald Trump’s “nasty woman” comment about Hillary Clinton at the third presidential debate. The paper also reported extensively on the reaction of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who seized on Trump’s remarks to stump for Secretary Clinton at campaign rallies.

Some media outlets also featured reports of support for Trump in Brazil, including an Oct. 29 rally in Sao Paulo, Brazil, during which violence broke out amongst the estimated 20 protesters and Trump supporters. Some of the protesters were said to hold signs like ‘Make America Great Again,’ and ‘Hillary for Prison.’ Similar signs were spotted at Trump U.S. rallies throughout the campaign. Some protesters compared Clinton to Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached by the Brazilian congress in early August.

Coverage of the U.S. elections has been embarrassing and unfair to both sides, said Leandro Mohallem, a spokesman and founder of Together for Brazil, a group which is regarded as right-wing and anti-Clinton. Mohallem said the big Brazilian media speak ill of Trump and hide Clinton’s crimes. “What happens in the United States has repercussions here,” he said.

Brazilians don’t have a good understanding of the differences between Brazil and U.S. election system, said Camila Palmeira, a Brazilian undergraduate student of international relations and economics in São Paulo.

“Maybe people just don’t know about politics and compare the candidates from America to Brazilian candidates,” Palmeira said.

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