This much-appreciated post is from Joe Brancatelli's "Tactical Traveler" feature at Joesentme.com
By Joe Brancatelli
Brazil's War on the Truth, Free Speech--and Joe Sharkey
Three years ago this week, a Boeing 737 collided with a corporate jet in the skies over the Amazon. All 154 souls aboard the Gol jet perished. Among the survivors on the corporate jet was Joe Sharkey, the business-travel columnist of The New York Times who was on the flight working on a magazine assignment. As any journalist would, Sharkey immediately wrote about the mid-air tragedy for The Times and even began a separate blog about the crash's bizarre aftermath. The result? A torrent of abuse from the Brazilian authorities and the thin-skinned Brazilian media. Sharkey dished it out as good as he got, especially on his blog, but his reporting, commentary and sarcasm was almost always on point: Brazil's air-traffic control system, especially over the Amazon, is inferior and dangerous, a conclusion reached by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and every other neutral observer. But now the Brazilians are mounting a startling new attack on Sharkey, the truth and free speech. Sharkey has been hit with a lawsuit in Brazil that claims he insulted the "dignity" of the country. The suit would be laughable--it says he wrote things that he never wrote and even claims there's a "rumor" about his supposed real purpose for being on the corporate jet--except for one small point: A U.S. law firm arranged for Sharkey to be served at his New Jersey home and there is the slightest possibility that a Brazilian judgment against him could be enforced in the United States. You can read about the attack on Sharkey in the latest issue of Editor & Publisher magazine, in a post on his High Anxiety blog and at the Committee to Protect Journalists. As a matter of full disclosure, I consider Sharkey a friend. I link to his blog right off the JoeSentMe home page. I was the guy who convinced him to blog about business travel in the first place. And I'm proud of all of those things.