24 Mar

Opposition dominates debate on attack plan against Moro and reactions to Lula’s statement deteriorate the government

Updated 3 de April, 2023 at 10:07 am

  • A succession of events involving Lula’s statements and the Federal Police’s operation, in addition to Senator Sergio Moro’s responses, dominated the debate about the Federal Government starting on March 21, reducing space for other topics that week;
  • Comments on Lula’s statements have deteriorated the government’s image after an alleged framing in an attack planned by the criminal faction PCC on public authorities, especially after the president’s claim that the case was “rigged by Moro”;
  • The case was a secondary discussion on other platforms, but rekindled associations between Lula/PT and the PCC, particularly on Telebram.

The opposition to the government has been a central part in the debate on the discovery of a PCC attack plan on Senator Sérgio Moro. The deterioration of the image of the Federal Government and the President of the Republic became evident after Lula’s statement on the case and the poor response of the governing base among the highlights of March 23. Those are the findings of a survey by the School of Communication at FGV, which analyzed the repercussion of the topic from March 17 to 23 on Twitter, Facebook and Telegram.
On Twitter, the case became the center of discussion on March 22, following the revelations by the Federal Police. In terms of narrative protagonism, the debate oscillated between March 22 and 23. Initially, the positive association between Lula’s personal statement and the independent state action of the Federal Police was highlighted, but the protagonism was lost after the Lula claimed it was rigged in a new interview. On Facebook, right-wing outlets had the greatest reach regarding the case, highlighting the speech of right-wing political leaders and criticizing the president’s statement on March 23.
In turn, videos shared on Telegram circulated extremist narratives regarding the meaning of the case. In this context, a new perspective gained strength: that the PCC attack plan and Lula’s stance on the case reveal not only risks to Moro’s life, but associations between the Workers’ Party and organized crime. This perspective appeared only as a secondary discussion on Twitter and Facebook.
The episode adds to Flávio Dino’s visit to the favela of Maré-RJ in the recovery of a narrative constructed throughout the electoral period, seeking to associate the PT and Lula with organized crime – in particular the PCC. A special report published in July 2020 by FGV ECMI addressing the Security debate identified a strong campaign to suggest an alleged influence of the criminal faction both in the PT and in the Judiciary. In this case, the point of attention is the accumulation of materials and narratives among groups aligned with Bolsonaro and the potential for panic overflowing regarding this issue into less partisan segments.



Evolution of mentions to the Federal Government on Twitter
Period: March 17 to 23


Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: School of Communication, Media and Information at FGV


  • The debate about the case of Senator Sergio Moro (UNIÃO-PR) gained strength starting on March 21, prompting a peak of mentions that lasted until the end of the period. The evolution of the debate followed the timeline of events.
  • On March 21, Lula’s interview for Brasil247 began to have negative repercussions among opponents, who used the material to link Lula, and not Bolsonaro, to “hatred” and “rudeness.” Secondarily, criticism of the press coverage of Lula’s statement circulated among supporters, who also criticized Moro. The senator’s response appeared as a secondary highlight published on news portals.
  • On March 22, the case became central in the debate about the Federal Government due to mentions of the PCC attack plan on public authorities revealed by the Federal Police on that same day. In terms of opinion repercussion, there was a predominance of the perspective that congratulated the performance of the Federal Police and attributed it to the institution’s independence and to the administration appointed by the president, with mentions to Lula having saved the senator. Statements made by Gleisi Hoffmann (PT-PR), journalist Ricardo Noblat and minister Flávio Dino stood out, marked by the positive connection between the events.
  • In turn, on March 23, there was a predominance of the negative repercussions of Lula’s claim that the case was rigged by Sergio Moro. The criticism gained strength in comments made by opponents of the president. Media profiles were also in evidence as they commented on Moro’s new statements and published a few opinion articles.
  • The episode was mentioned by opponents with a focus on the contradiction between the previous glorification of the Federal Police and the president’s statement. This contradiction was seen as evidence of the government’s incoherence and disorganization, as well as an attack on the Federal Police. Lula, in turn, is negatively labeled with terms such as “bad character”, “hatred”, “senility”, “revenge”, “grudge” and “selfishness”.
  • Another highlight were the statements made by actors such as the representatives Nikolas Ferreira (PL-MG), Flávio Bolsonaro (PL-RJ), Carlos Jordy (PL-RJ), Marcel van Hattem (NOVO-RS) and Deltan Dallagnol (PODE-PR), as well as pro-Bolsonaro influencer Kim Paim and profiles from the traditional media, which conveyed statements from both parties.
  • In a secondary way, supporters such as Thiago dos Reis and Lázaro Rosa published messages in defense of the president, agreeing with him. Other supporters also conveyed information that allegedly proves the president’s suspicions. There was an absence of a narrative and actors favorable to the government in that day’s highlights.
  • To a lesser extent, the debate rekindled the association between Lula and organized crime, prompting mentions to possible relations between the PT and the PCC and of President Lula with the murder of Celso Daniel;
  • Throughout the week, including between March 20 and 23, topics such as the attempted association between Flávio Dino and organized crime after his visit to Complexo da Maré, and the clashes between the government and the Central Bank, were also the subject of the debate about the Federal Government.


Key terms related to the Federal Government on Twitter
Period: March 17 to 23

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: School of Communication, Media and Information at FGV


  • The discussion about the plan to attack Senator Sergio Moro was marked by a notorious protagonism of the opposition, especially by representatives aligned with former president Bolsonaro such as Nikolas Ferreira and Carlos Jordy. To a lesser degree, in the progressive field, Benedita da Silva and Glauber Braga stood out in praising the government’s handling of the case;
  • There were frequent suggestions that the Federal Government was “in the way” due to conflicting statements made by President Lula and Minister for Justice Flávio Dino regarding the PCC attack plan against the senator;
  • In particular, there were mentions to the role of the Federal Police in the episode, since Lula allegedly suggested that there was a collusion between Moro and the institution, while Dino claimed that the Federal Police dismantled the assassination plan. The divergence of opinions became the target of ironic remarks and was seen by the opposition as a sign of political weakening within the government’s inner circle;
  • However, while Dino’s statement seems to have been better understood (including by the opposition, who even considered his opinion positive), Lula was branded as “immoral” and received most of the criticism for having allegedly suggested that he wants “revenge” against Moro;
  • With a slightly smaller reach, the pro-government group argued that Moro is safe because of “Lula and Dino’s Federal Police”. It was also said that the episode allegedly illustrates Dino’s impartiality, since the minister did not try to mobilize institutional authorities against opponents;
  • A recurring argument in the opposition was that the government supporters are allegedly attempting to mobilize the narrative that Dino had “saved” Moro in order to stifle Lula’s supposed threats against the senator;
  • Flávio Dino’s visit to the Complexo da Maré was a widely mobilized topic in the period. An alleged statement attributed to police officers about Dino having been authorized by drug traffickers to enter the community was one of the elements used to associate the minister with organized crime;
  • On the other hand, pro-government profiles pointed out that the association between the community and drug trafficking is prejudiced and unreasonable, as well as Dino’s alleged relationship with criminal factions;
  • In a secondary discussion, the episode was associated with the threat involving Sergio Moro, reinforcing the narrative that the government as a whole has relations with organized crime.


Links related to the debate on the Federal Police operation against the PCC on Facebook
Period: March 21 to 23



Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: School of Communication, Media and Information at FGV


  • The operation that led to the arrest of PCC members who planned the assassination of Senator Sergio Moro and other authorities, as well as the statements made by President Lula, had a mostly negative impact on the federal government, with criticism from right-wing outlets and allies of the former president Jair Bolsonaro. In this context, Moro’s statements repudiating Lula’s claim that the case was “rigged by Moro” stood out among the links with the highest volume of interactions;
  • Other highlights included statements by representatives and right-wing political leaders such as the congressmen Marco Feliciano and Deltan Dallagnol. Senator Sergio Moro’s interviews shortly after President Lula’s statement were also highlighted and fed the content published by right-wing portals, such as Jovem Pan News and Gazeta do Povo, which also commented on the possibility of an impeachment process against the president. In turn, the portals O Antagonista and Jornal da Cidade Online focused on Lula’s statement, implying that the president could be defending and even hiding a relationship between the government and the PCC;
  • Left-wing portals and the traditional media also spoke about the case, but had little engagement compared to right-wing outlets.



Messages related to the debate on the Federal Police operation against the PCC on Telegram
Period: March 17 to 23

Source: Telegram | Elaborated by: School of Communication, Media and Information at FGV


  • The opposition to the government was at the center of the discussion on the Federal Police operation against the PCC, although groups aligned with Lula were also seeking to dispute the debate. In general, there was a tendency to use the president’s statements to support the idea that Lula and the PT would benefit from an attack against Sergio Moro, or even that they acted directly against the senator’s life.
  • Among the topics discussed, the notion that Lula was allegedly laughing and minimizing the attack plan against Moro stood out. Minister Flávio Dino was also criticized, especially with messages that used the episode to insinuate that he has close relations with drug trafficking in the country. In a secondary part of the discussion, there were YouTube videos with more radical content, claiming that the senator was “on the crosshairs of death” and that Lula was “suspect number 1”.
  • Right-wing hyper-partisan outlets such as Jornal da Cidade Online and Terra Brasil Notícias stood out in this process, assiduously publishing the developments of the case in order to deteriorate the government’s image. Political figures aligned with Bolsonaro, such as congressman Filipe Barros (PL-PR), endorsed this mobilization.
    In turn, the government’s allies focused on the narrative that Sergio Moro is a “compulsive liar”. However, criticism of the senator circulated in a more restricted and secondary way.