Much has been discussed about how journalism should deal with the phenomenon of the populist extreme right. Chega is, in parliamentary representation and according to polls, the third political force in the country. Of course, this obliges journalism to relate to the party and its leader.
When there are interviews with André Ventura, there is a generalized feeling that the normalization and trivialization of a personality who propagates a xenophobic and racist ideology and who insists on lying is being promoted.
but behold a young journalist interviewed André Ventura decided to show how it’s done. Her name is Salomé Leal and the interview was published in the newspaper Polygraph, a fact-checking publication. The motto was naturally given: they spoke of the role of lies in the communication of Chega and the journalist gave concrete examples where Ventura was not true, he was publicly denounced and warned about it and, even so, he did not correct or delete the publications, keeping them still in the your page.
I choose an example from February 11th. André Ventura published an image with the announcement of a conference with the theme “The role of the State in contemporary society”, which had the presence of José Sócrates and which was scheduled for February 13. Next to that image Ventura wrote the following: “This could be a joke but it’s not! It’s really going to happen! The system protects itself and protects its own. This country needs a cleanup!”
Salomé Leal confronted Ventura with the fact that this conference took place a decade ago, that he had been publicly warned and that he had not deleted the publication. Ventura apologized like this: “I don’t have to delete it, the conference really happened.” And again: “I didn’t say the date on which the conference was going to take place. You are the ones saying it.”
It is often said that you catch a liar faster than a lame one and, throughout this interview, with mastery and simplicity, the journalist allowed André Ventura to expose himself as the liar that he is. Interestingly, she also provided that she presented herself lame.
The examples and concrete cases followed one another and they were all recent: a false photograph of the earthquake in Turkey, a position regarding euthanasia different from the one now proclaimed, wrong information about the number of women in the leadership of the party, etc. You don’t have to look far or go back in time. Ventura uses lies to get his message across and, when caught lying, demonstrates that he has not gone through the line of what he permanently preaches: shame. On top of that, he announces buzzwords like giving a voice to the voiceless. Salomé did not fail to notice: “But telling a lie is not giving a voice to the voiceless.” Before that this is infinite. For what matters, it was visible to those who read the interview what kind of person, and politician, is there.
The subject of shame has much to say.
There is an honorable side to being ashamed. “A man is the more respectable the more things he is ashamed of.” Shame can even be confused with integrity and the fear of being caught in some fault. The violence of embarrassing oneself is found in a writing by Nietzsche: “What do you find most humane? Spare someone an embarrassment.”
It is this shame that Ventura does not have. Salomé was excellent and made him show it too. We were offered the opportunity to see Ventura caught in the wrong and to see how such a situation does not represent for him what it represents for an honorable person.
While demonstrating the greatest character flaws, Ventura feeds the idea that he dwells in the depths of spirituality. He said he went to Mass regularly, did not clarify whether he still inflicts corporal punishment on himself or when he last wore a cilice and defended that politicians should lose their fear of talking about God. If God exists, there must be a lot of laughter.
What, of all, is Salomé Leal’s greatest merit? It’s just that instead of finishing reading the interview with a feeling of anger and revolt, we are left with a satisfying feeling. We managed to laugh at this salesman of broken-down second-hand cars and we’re in the mood to read the second part, which is already published.
The author is a columnist for PÚBLICO and writes according to the new spelling agreement