But: the preferred conjunction of the press that denies reality

Scientists find a cure for cancer, BUT discovery will cause thousands of oncologists to be fired. Allies defeat the Nazis, BUT rebuilding Europe will cost dearly. Brazil grew 2% this year, BUT growth means more pollution. The Brazilian team won the sixth championship, BUT the team is all men. Police prevent family from being burned alive, BUT suspects are killed. Anitta announces retirement, BUT the columnist lacks creativity to think about the bad side of it.

The fashionable word is “but”. Adversative conjunction, if my memory of Professor Olinda’s classes doesn’t fail me. Cousin of However, However and Meanwhile, the simplest part of the family, and also of the aristocratic Nevertheless and Outrossim, not to mention the reclusive and eccentric Count Não Obstante. The “but” is always the harbinger of a caveat – transformed today into a world view. Or rather, in philosophy of life: if something is good, it is because something else is bad. And if it isn’t, it will get worse.

Applied to the political daily life of Brazil, to the point of becoming a topic of debate and chronicle, the conjunction serves to deny the reality of good news, giving the final word always to a supposedly evil and perverse consequence, if not frightening and pessimistic. Deep down, the reasoning behind this Philosophy of the Mas that contaminates some newsrooms in the country is simple: Brazil shows signs of improvement, BUT we don’t like the president.

As it could not be otherwise, the opposition element “but” has been used by a press that did not understand Millôr Fernandes’ famous phrase, according to which “press is opposition; the rest is a dry and wet store”. Used to exhaustion to justify an endless and not very virtuous clash against the State, the aphorism became a kind of safe-conduct for the press to distort reality in order to combat the great evil represented by Jair Bolsonaro. And whoever disagrees, you already know, is a passerby, fascist, reactionary. That whole thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Millôr Fernandes’ sentence. Coined, by the way, at a time when the press was much more powerful than it is today and, therefore, maintained much more promiscuous relations with the government. A detail that often escapes those who repeat the phrase as a mantra of journalistic rectitude: the promiscuous relations between the press and the government, implicit in the phrase, had a much more financial than ideological character.

And this difference is fundamental to understand why the more ideological than interesting press of today, if it insists on systematic, irrational and hysterical opposition, will be opposing not the government, but its client and reason for being: the reader. After all, this kind of opposition usually requires the press to ignore the most basic journalistic ethics and to pick the “but” between reality and utopian desire. In this way, it not only imposes its ideology on the reader, but also contributes to reinforcing the revolutionary impetus.

The epidemic of “but” makes the press, obsessed with opposing a legitimately elected government, who misses here, hits there, a force that seems to antagonize the country itself. The “but” that thunders in the headline is the dagger that sacrifices reality to put an end to the aesthetic disgust that the president awakens. And, in a broader sense, to impose utopian fantasies of a perfect world. Or worse: of a cynical, nihilistic and above all incorrigible world.

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