The TV ad showing a journalist being showered in money is only an offense to the already blighted honor of Greek journalism, they said. The argument – and particularly the hurt tone in which it was made – exposes the media to the accusation that its only objection to the ad released by the main opposition SYRIZA party was that it hurt its ego.
After all, isn’t that what “everyone” believes? That all journalists are on the take? That this is what the government pays them for? To silence the opposition.
Such opinions resonate with a much wider audience than SYRIZA voters, an audience that probably did not read the two editorials published by Kathimerini recently asking why the center-right government has not been forthcoming about how it distributed the 20 million euros for its coronavirus public awareness campaign.
But if there is any good reason to discuss the opposition’s ad, it is not because it offends journalists. It is because it demonstrates that the party which governed the country for four-and-a-half years is trying to make a comeback by unearthing its “adolescent” anti-systemic cliches.
The timing of the ad, however, was ruthless, coming as it did hot on the heels of revelations concerning the tactics employed by the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition to entrench its hold on power against its political rivals.
The media and the justice system were the levers of a political ideology limited to vilification of the kind that flourished in the Metapolitefsi: Everyone is a thief, or a blackguard or a snitch.
This toxic political culture, which is revealed in all its cynical glory in the tapes released by businessman Sabby Mionis of his conversation with former leftist minister Nikos Pappas, survives in the ranks of SYRIZA today. It is the same culture reflected in the controversial TV ad.
This is a political party that used up much of its capital – and to a great extent succeeded – in changing the media map; that used judicial harassment, threats, examining committees, but also generous subsidies, to build up and demolish media outlets (or “shops,” as they’re colloquially known); that ended its term in a much friendlier media environment that where it started, yet still managed to lose the election.
It should have known better. It should have managed to strike a balance in its relationship with the press rather than succumbing to the same old conspiratorial fixations.
The Mionis tapes are like a second act to the TV ad, particularly given that the minister heard on the tapes is the same one that was tasked with controlling the media landscape.