By Jože Biščak & Vinko Vasle
We are responding to your today’s really evil and toxic text (HERE), in which you completely unjustifiably and with lies slander Slovenia.
Response to the pamphlet
From your writing it is painfully clear you have absolutely no idea about the structure of Slovene media landscape and that you get your information primarily from Slovenian far-left media activists, who do not recognize the democratic value of a peaceful transfer of Government.
The contract between STA and the Government was written and signed during the previous Government of Prime minister Šarec – the director of STA is clearly breaching it as the courts of law established (twice!) For as long as the director of the agency is keeping it (and its workers) hostage, the Government’s hands are tied. This was thoroughly explained to you and other international organizations several times both by the Government as well as conservative media, yet through negligence or intent you constantly chose to ignore it. Moreover, removing the director would not have any influence on the editorial decisions of STA, since the director by law should not interfere with with the decisions of the editors (although director Veselinović has been proven to do this in the past – but that is a story for another occasion).
Women journalists are NOT targeted by misogynistic and sexist insults – not by the Prime Minister nor by any other members of the Government. This is a blatant lie, that deserves litigation. The famous »prostitutes« tweet was written in a specific context, that had nothing to do with gender of said journalists and you kept ignoring the fact that the journalists themselves were scolded by the court which handled the case for deceitful reporting not becoming of journalists working for a public broadcaster. The tweet was a response to clearly manipulative reporting. The Prime Minister was NOT a Prime Minister at that time but a member of the opposition, and you purposefully obfuscate this point and artificially create a non-existent trend of sexism of the Slovenian Government. This is a shameful, cynical attempt at political opportunism.
Government officials have NEVER pressured editorial offices and reduced challenging coverage. This is a made up statement. Nothing like that ever occurred, nor is there any empirical evidence for this to occur – yet another case where you clearly should be prosecuted for purposefully spreading lies.
Nor is there an effort by SDS to »limit critical journalism«. Where the state-owned enterprises advertise or who they sell parts of their businesses has nothing to do with the Government – they are private entities, responsible to shareholders (yes, these companies are partially in private hands and they are reporting to shareholders, which execute their will through the board of directors). You clearly are proposing that the Government’s job is to dictate to state-owned companies where to advertise, like in previous administrations where they limited their consumer reach by only advertising in leftist media. No that is not just speculation – there is ample empirical evidence for his – the previous Prime Minister Marjan Šarec ordered state owned companies not to advertise in conservative media and we didn’t hear a peep from you. Shame on you for becoming useful idiots of the Slovenian far left and the media tycoons which support it.
The day before the start of Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU, in the manner of disqualification, you took the time to publish this pamphlet, to which you even attach professional analytical value. Already the time of publication tells all about your intentions, not to mention the content of the pamphlet at all. Namely, it is a matter of continuing and potentiating the accusations of dictatorship over the media of the current government and President Janez Janša. So you are repeating and renewing old patterns of untruths, even lies and exaggerations.
In fact, violent anti-government propaganda of the majority, left-wing, even pro-communist media under the sponsorship of the current opposition is at work in Slovenia. Therefore, it is hard to believe that this pamphlet of yours represents a kind of »field« observation of events in the Slovenian media space, which is primarily evidenced by the »uniformity of perceptions«, while the other side of the coin has no word. If your claims and conclusions were based on facts, it would quickly become clear how ideologically and politically the Slovenian media landscape is uniform, in which the majority left-wing media dominate by more than 90 percent. The so-called pro-government media you are writing about are therefore an absolute minority, which the previous government (current opposition) together with the then Prime Minister Marjan Šarec tried to stifle and destroy with a ban on advertising. In fact, this applies to two media – the weekly Demokracija and Nova24TV. This fact alone shows that in reality there is media racism in Slovenia, which is encouraged by the left and pro-communist parties such as Tanja Fajon’s Social Democrats.
- There is not a single case of anyone defending the right-wing conservative media during Marjan Šarec’s attacks, let alone any international organization. On the contrary, it is exactly these minority media and their journalists who are being denounced and prosecuted by the judiciary, the police and the prosecutor’s office.
- There is not a single case of a journalist, a reporter from the majority media, ever being physically attacked anywhere. On the contrary, during the current anti-government demonstrations, directed even by individuals with criminal records, the media and individuals of the other side were attacked by left-wing assault hordes.
- There is not a single case of the current government of Janez Janša persecuting a journalist, physically threatening him, etc. However, there are cases when attempts are made to systematically disable the work of media that do not belong to the so-called left scene.
- There is not a single case that can unequivocally prove government censorship or even direct or indirect influence on media reporting. The only “interference” in the media occurred when it came to untrue, even false reporting. From this point of view, however, the media and journalists are not free from criticism, and criticism is not an attack on media autonomy and independence.
- There is not a single case that would prove that the government and Janez Janša forced any journalist or the media into self-censorship and likable reporting on the work of the government. On the contrary, the majority media in the country are very relaxed about that – even so much so that they are becoming seriously inauthentic and unprofessional.
- There is not a single case when the media or journalists, who are militant disposed against the government and Janez Janša, would have to go to the police stations for questioning and the prosecution would file indictments against them. On the contrary, this is largely happening to the right-wing conservative media and journalists. Another proof of media racism.
- There is not a single case when unwelcome journalists were fired due to the influence of the government or Janez Janša. On the contrary, all this is being done successfully by the media moguls, those who, in the transition from the party one-mindedness of the former state to democracy, also managed to privatize individual media in very suspicious ways. The Slovenian journalist organization DNS, which is in fact more political than a professional organization of journalists, simply does not deal with this.
- There is not a single case of deliberate poisoning of the media atmosphere by the ruling SDS party of Janez Janša. Criticisms of unprofessional journalistic work and demands for objective reporting are not poisoning. On the other hand, the current opposition, which was in power a year and a half ago, is deliberately trying to poison the atmosphere in the EU and damage Slovenia’s reputation in the world by exporting lies about Slovenian media events. This includes your untrue pamphlet.
- There is not a single case when foreign or international journalistic organizations, or other organizations that dealt with the Slovenian media image, would take into account the opinions of the other side in their analyses, ie different opinions, different arguments. The opposite is true – in these reports, the same interlocutors always appear, who are also a source of untruths in some foreign media.
- There is no evidence that the government and Janez Janša are deliberately destroying the STA because they demand different, likable reporting from it, or something similar. It is true, however, that this is a government agency funded by the government, which has the right to demand financial reports from its director Bojan Veselinović, strict separation of public and market activity and signing a new contract because the previous one has expired.
- There is no evidence of direct interference by the government and Janez Janša in public RTV. On the contrary, this media house has such relaxed views on media reality and professionalism that it is difficult to find reality in it, and anti-government propaganda – not journalism – has, so to speak, lost the »raison d’être« justification of its existence as a professional public media houses, as evidenced by the declining ratings of public television.
Jože Biščak and Vinko Vasle
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.