By Jože Biščak and Vinko Vasle
Dear Politico editorial staff, dear Lili Bayer,
if we are not mistaken, Politico was established as an “impartial medium” with accurate information and details from the background of political events. It wanted to become a prestigious and credible resource from the world of global politics.
But let’s leave that aside for now. Who you choose as interlocutors is your business. It is your free choice, of course. Only then do not pretend to be some independent, but write it down clearly: We support exclusively media that are ideologically inclined to the left. And, forgive me, if we would say ’media that are inclined to liberal democracy’ that would be an insult to the original meaning of liberal democracy.
In fact, we wouldn’t have even responded if there weren’t some extreme lies and manipulations in the text, and if those weren’t light years away from reality. In other words. The text seems to speak of some kind of parallel world. And we really can’t get past that.
Reading the article titled »Inside Slovenia’s War on the media« one gets an immediate sense that those days are over. Now Politico is just another mouthpiece of the radical left. How else can we possibly explain that this once notable media outlet would get so thoroughly duped by Slovenian radical left which successfully exported its fantasy of Slovenian journalists being persecuted by the government.
Politico managed to write an absolute disgrace of an article in which it interviewed a bunch of anonymous sources as well as two political activists, one posing as a journalist (editor-in-chief of STA, the Slovenian press agency) another one as a so called »media expert« , Mr. Marko Milosavljević, who is the go-to guy of the radical left when they need to demonize and discredit anything remotely connected to the right.
We do not intend to apologise for our words, you took your gloves off with lies and we also put ours aside, so we, who are otherwise tactful and polite, will not choose our words carefully now. You were obviously misled by unilateral information coming from Slovenia, which is a mitigating circumstance that we do consider, however, you should have double checked the information before you spread lies.
The article is full of anecdotes, sentimental stories of the prime minister’s past, blank statements and out-of-context quotations by the prime minister, yet there are no numbers no brute facts, no empirical data? Only a concoction of integral parts, meshed together in a very specific way to create a very clear agenda, which is suspiciously similar to the one that the radical part of the Slovenian media – the ones who are in a state of perpetual war with anything remotely connected to the right-wing politics.
See what »our« journalists who are advocating for »our« democracy are promoting in the video below.
Yes, its true that the Prime minister criticized STA, RTV Slovenia (the national broadcaster) and a number of other media outlets. He called them biased. He accused them of perpetuating the covid-19 crisis. But Politico failed to do any real research on Slovenian media. If they did, they would notice that a large part of Slovenian media actually DID perpetuate the pandemic. Throughout the summer employees of RTV Slovenia instigated anti-government protests wherein epidemic safety measures were routinely broken. Notorious rapper Zlatko appeared on national TV with a ripped mask. People who breached covid-19 rules were hailed as heros, who are fighting the good fight against the tyrannical government who’s locking people inside their houses. There was a massive media propaganda, which instilled in people a tremendous resentment towards all covid19 measures, making them feel like the measures have nothing to do with the pandemic but are rather the Government’s way of enslaving its citizens. In short, Slovenian media (which is predominately leftist) employed a rather trumpist tactic of pretending the epidemic does not exist, hoping the covid19 pandemic will last as long as possible, which would be detrimental to the popularity of the current government. The Prime minister rightfully criticized such irresponsible journalism. But he never made any attempts to have influence on editorial decisions.
Politico is faithfully exporting fakenews, delivered to it by Slovenian political activists, claiming that Janša’s government is defunding RTV (national broadcaster) and halting funding to STA (national press agency). Yet the Slovenian agitators conveniently left out very important intricate details:
- The Government has plans in place to fully compensate RTVS for the partial reallocation of RTV fee to other media. In fact it has to – or the planned Media Act will get annulled as soon as it passes to law.
- The contract between the Government and STA was signed by the previous government and it stipulates that the funding is to be stopped if the government does not get adequate financial reports, which would allow it to determine the amount it has to allocate to STA. The current director of STA flat-out refused to hand over the reports, which left the Government with no choice but to halt the funding, since it had no way of telling how much funds it must allocate to STA
But these kinds of details are needless distractions, which spoil the neat narrative of war on the media.
Yet the plothole in this this sorry excuse of an article is so big it just can’t be overlooked. The main premise of the article is that anonymous sources from the world of media and journalism are reporting scary stories how they’re pressured into self-censorship. The climate is supposed to be “very stressful and very brutal”. Of course, anyone who has lived in Slovenia for a few years and speaks fluent Slovenian will burst out in laughter hearing these anxious words of tortured journalists, who are obviously undergoing treatment only matched by those in Russia, China and Venezuela. You see – every Slovenian knows that journalists in Slovenia are like sacred cows – nobody can touch them and they tend to be connected to powerful left-wing media tycoons, who are awarding them handsomely to write daily anti-government drivel. The claim is so absurd, that even leftist Slovenians don’t believe it, that’s why the so called “War on media” is never really a topic of discussion in Slovenia, since absolutely nobody believes journalists are being persecuted. That is why it’s a potent topic to export and misrepresent to naïve foreigners like Lily Bayer of politico, who never read a Slovenian newspaper, watched Slovenian TV news or listen to Slovenian radio in her life. For people like her it’s believable, and Slovenian activist journalist, quasi-academics and the political opposition know this very well, that’s why they put a lot of effort into this project.
While it’s true that the topic of persecution of journalist is so ridiculous an average Slovenian doesn’t even need a rebuttal (since he’s reading articles where Janša and his government are ruthlessly mocked every day) it does need a further explanation for foreigners.
So consider this: the basic premise of the article is that the journalists are so afraid of the government they are starting to self-censor. If this were the case, the media landscape would show evidence of this. Yet the evidence is quite the contrary – a recent media analysis by the Faculty of media showed that mainstream Slovenian media are heavily pro-opposition, anti-government and editorially noticeably biased towards the left. If the anecdotes told to naive Lily Bayer were true, there would be a measurable change in reporting. The only change in Slovenian mainstream media was this: on 15th of March they became pro-opposition, while up till that day they were pro-government (when the leftist government of Marjan Šarec was still in office).
While we are on the topic of Marjan Šarec – he actually did wage a war against the media. A war with actual consequences. Consequences that never made it to headlines of NY Times or Politico, since nobody let Miss Bayer know about it. Mr. Šarec ordered state-owned businesses not to buy ad space in right-wing media publications. He and his secretary of state Damir Črnčec took over the internet portal Siol and used it as a megaphone for attacking both the opposition as well as its own coalition partners. He directly influenced the supervisory board of Slovenian Telecom, which annulled the contract with the internet portal owned by Bojan Požar, an independent journalist who uncovered several scandal of the previous government, which lead to resignation of four ministers and a secretary of state. In fact – Marko Milosavljević, who also appears in Politicos article mentioned Marjan Šarec’s take-over of Siol internet portal, but he didn’t find proper motivation to write about this unfortunate fact in foreign publications.
The Politico article is a study case on how easy it is to dupe international journalists who write about domestic topics they know nothing about. Miss Bayer has been sold made-up stories by political activists, who consider this tactic part of a guerilla war against the current government. Political activists who have gotten used to the easy life of practically unlimited access to tax-payers money they enjoyed over the previous decade of left-wing governments. For them toppling of the current Government is a financial prerogative.
But the fault is still firmly at Miss Bayer’s doorstep. The Government posted correspondence between her and the Government communications office. It responded to all the erroneous claims she received from the political activists. None of which has been included in her article. Telling both side of the story should be 101 of journalism. It seems this is not the case for Miss Bayer nor Politico. They are more interested in writing European versions of worthless “orange-man-bad” articles, which are more a part of the global radical left agenda, than an attempt at serious journalism. Shame on you Politico. You are no longer news. You are a propaganda machine. No wonder your writers went into meltdown after Ben Shapiro wrote an article for your media outlet.
The Slovenian majority media space has been in a severe moral, ethical and professional crisis for several years. Comparisons with the past could be found even in the 1970s, when it was the dictatorial censorship government of the Communist Party. With the difference that now the media themselves agree to this role for various reasons – because they are closely connected with the individual headquarters of the left political parties and are in fact their propagandists and agitators; because of opportunism, or because in these media they can work in low-paid jobs at all, as precarious workers and without proper education. An eloquent example is even the national news agency STA, headed by Bojan Veselinovič, that is, the government agency that resists the founder of providing financial data! The average salary of a journalist there is around 1000 euros, his net salary is five times that of a journalist, and he does not forget to be specially rewarded on a monthly and annual basis. Due to unsustainable working and social conditions, most of the journalists of this agency publicly rebelled a few days ago. We couldn’t read that in the majority media.
The Slovenian majority media are mainly in the hands of tycoons who abuse these media for their business. Their motto is not to inform the public about important events, but to use and abuse these media for their own business and to spread only the left political agenda. Thus, the owner of Delo is the tycoon Stojan Petrič, who is a morally problematic person, and now even a criminal complaint has been filed against him, which of course his Delo is not allowed to report. Other media are also in solidarity. Dnevnik is in the hands of tycoon Bojan Petan, the ownership structure of Večer is similar, and for all three daily newspapers it is true that they are in a catastrophic situation – personnel, financial and circulation – regardless of the Internet media content that affects circulation. The fundamental reason, of course, lies in the content of these media, which are sub-professional and ethically very questionable from a journalistic point of view. The problem is not that they are left-wing, some even far-left content-oriented, but that they do not respect the basic rules of journalism and that they often make fun of the code of ethics and ignore the Munich Declaration not only on journalists’ rights but also duties.
There is also a well-known example of the so-called media empire of Martin Odlazek or the Media24 group, which publishes more than 60 different media – a newspaper, has numerous radio stations, ten magazines, television and websites. In this case, it is certainly an illegal media concentration and abuse of media power, but because these media (with very yellow content) serve propaganda leftist interests, of course nothing happens. By the way: the owner has already been in several criminal proceedings and even in prison.
POP TV, which was promising at least in the beginning, has turned into a hysterical television station in recent years, which is in the news program at the level of the disreputable pornography show of Jerry Springer. The comparison is appropriate, as the aforementioned POP TV is in fact publishing political pornography rather than information. But it is catastrophic for journalism that the national RTV Slovenia, which is not privately owned and has to be paid monthly by all citizens, has come very close to this content agenda. Its informative (and not only this) program is completely left-wing one-sided, full of misinformation, half-information and even deliberate lies. If anyone criticizes such media content, international journalists’ organizations, embassies and Brussels are immediately alarmed, saying that these are attacks on journalistic freedom and autonomy, forgetting that freedom and autonomy in journalism are directly related to high professionalism. However, if someone from politics or government comes forward, this is understood as a threat, not just a criticism. There is not a single case of authoritarian threat to journalists in the Slovenian journalistic space, except when the left is in power, such as was the case of the government of Marjan Šarec, who threatened the minority media of the right wing with deprivation or even a ban on advertising. These media outlets are constantly attacked with complete fabrications, and their content and individual journalists receive complaints to the prosecutor’s office even from a journalist organization.
To conclude, just a few words about the so-called physical attacks on journalists. Only three cases are known in all these years, when, for example, rapper Zlatan Čordić attacked a journalist television team at the end of last year, snatched the camera from the cameraman’s hands and damaged it, not to mention his other threats. Čordić is a well-known supporter of the so-called covid idiots and the left political scene. Another example is the case of an extreme leftist who attacked a photojournalist during a demonstration last year and seriously injured him, tackled a cameraman, knocked him to the ground and kicked him around, and then did the same to a police officer. The third case dates back to a few years ago, when a well-known offender and a troubled man drove a car into a TVS camera – and this attack was tried to be attributed to government criticism of that television and to the right wing.
However, the majority media, for example, never reported or were appalled by the systematic attacks and threats of individuals on the journalist and editor of the national television, dr. Jože Možina, some of which were even at the level of so-called physical contact, or in style: he needs to be run over at a pedestrian crossing, he needs to be shot, and so on. Možina is a former TVS director who, as an editor and journalist, does not agree to the arbitrary one-sided left-wing propaganda of the house where he works.
Jože Biščak is the editor-in-chief of the conservative-oriented magazine Demokracija, president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists and author of the books Zgodbe iz Kavarne Hayek, Zapisi konservativnega liberalca and Potovati z Orwellom.
Vinko Vasle is a longtime journalist and editor, former director of the national Radio Slovenia and the author of several novels, including Purgarji, Darovalec, Arhivar, Prva hiša na Marsu and Pisma podpore in upora.