Occupy Olympics: NBC Decries 'Economic Injustice' of Brazil Spending Billions on Games

On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams heralded protests in Brazil "driven by economic injustice," followed by correspondent Mark Potter in Rio de Janeiro detailing the motivation: "Many in the crowds complained about rampant corruption, crime, low wages, and a lack of social services....As Brazil spends billions to build stadiums for next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics."

What Williams and Potter failed to mention was the fact that NBC is a beneficiary of the Olympics, having exclusive rights to broadcast the games. In 2011, NBC's parent company Comcast paid the International Olympic Committee $4.38 billion to continue to cover the Olympics from 2014 to 2020, with goal being "to use the Olympics as a way to raise its number of subscribers and the monthly fees they pay."

In his report, Potter included a sound bite of University of Miami professor Jessica Carvalho Morris: "When you have a population of 13 million people who are going to bed hungry every night, it's hard to justify building so many stadiums with public funds." Perhaps Comcast could use some of it's own billions to chip in for the Olympic facilities in Rio.

Introducing a follow-up report on Thursday's Nightly News, Williams again noted protestor "anger over economic injustice" as correspondent Miguel Almaguer proclaimed:

Demonstrators across this country say they are paying high taxes, and in return they say they are getting very poor government services back. Everything from health care to education to security.

As you know, Rio is on the world stage, next year hosting the World Cup, and in three years, hosting the Olympic games. The government is paying billions of dollars for those events, but the folks here in Rio and across Brazil say in return they are getting very little back from their government.


Here is a full transcript of Potter's June 18 report:

7:10PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We have seen in the past couple of months, a lot of pictures from foreign countries where people have flooded into the streets in protest, often fed by social media, often suppressed by the government. And now, tonight, it's Brazil. Big protests have developed out of nowhere, driven by economic injustice mostly. The biggest of them just last night, and again this evening. Our report from NBC's Mark Potter.

MARK POTTER: An estimated quarter million Brazilians took to the streets in more than a dozen cities, most were peaceful, though there was violence. Demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro attacked the state legislature building, throwing firebombs and confronting police. At least 20 officers and 10 protesters were reportedly injured.

Many in the crowds complained about rampant corruption, crime, low wages, and a lack of social services. "We lack investments," he says, "mainly in health and education." As Brazil spends billions to build stadiums for next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

JESSICA CARVALHO MORRIS [UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SCHOOL OF LAW]: When you have a population of 13 million people who are going to bed hungry every night, it's hard to justify building so many stadiums with public funds.

POTTER: Tensions have been building for weeks, sparked by a government increase in bus fares and quickly escalated with images of police cracking down on demonstrators. It comes on the heels of other mass protests half a world away, in Egypt, Greece, and Turkey. Organized with the help of social media, building on popular discontent.

Brazil's president, a target of some protestors, posted a statement on YouTube, saying they had valid complaints and needed to be heard. But with Brazil about to move on to the world stage with international sporting events, not to mention hosting the Pope next month, many wonder if it will be ready. Tonight, even more protests are underway. Mark Potter, NBC News.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC