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Bolsonaro assails Brazil network blaming him for virus deaths

Bolsonaro assails Brazil network blaming him for virus deaths

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — President Jair Bolsonaro lashed out Sunday at the "cowardice" of Brazil's most widely viewed TV network for suggesting he bore heavy blame for the nation's more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths.

The far-right president accused TV Globo of treating the death milestone as if it were "a World Cup final," saying on Twitter that it had been both "cowardly and disrespectful of the dead."

On Saturday night, shortly after the official announcement that the 100,000-death mark had been passed, TV Globo opened its news report with a long editorial highly critical of Bolsonaro's handling of the health crisis.

News anchors pointedly noted that an article in the Brazilian constitution states that "health is the right of all and the duty of the National Government." 

They then asked, "Has the president of the republic done his duty?"

Bolsonaro said in his tweet Sunday that "disinformation kills more than the virus." He suggested that TV Globo was using COVID-19 for political purposes, which itself could lead to deaths.

Bolsonaro has played down the coronavirus from the beginning, dismissing it as a "little flu," questioning the lockdowns ordered by some state governors and saying their economic impact could be "more deadly than the virus." 

Bolsonaro said Sunday that he has a "clear conscience," adding that "we have done everything possible to save lives."

On Saturday, numerous politicians sent messages of comfort to the families of the 100,000 people who died and criticized the government's handling of the crisis. Congress and the Supreme Court announced a period of mourning.

But Bolsonaro simply shared a tweet from a government spokesman emphasizing the number of people who have recovered from the virus — he is actually one of them — and making no mention of the death toll.