The government sought to downplay an abusive rant by Deputy Health Minister Pavlos Polakis Thursday against media outlets and journalists, saying it was a “verbal misstep.”
“He was angry at the stance of parts of the media toward him and the terms used to describe him,” government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili told Alpha Radio, while Health Minister Andreas Xanthos provided more cover, telling Parliament that the discussion about Polakis’s comments should not overshadow the good work done by the ministry, with the deputy’s full-hearted support and participation.
In a speech in Maroussi, Polakis said the tables are now turning on the media and described private TV channels as “gutter stations of vested interests” and journalists covering the Health Ministry as “born yesterday.”
He also took aim at a journalist with whom he had an acrimonious exchange at a press conference last December, saying he should have just “stood up and buried him three meters under.” The targeted journalist had urged Xanthos to “rein in the dog sitting beside you,” referring to Polakis.
But he didn’t stop there, deriding International Monetary Fund representative Delia Velculescu as “Draculescu” and lambasting New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis as a scion of “a family of vested interests.”
His comments drew an angry response from opposition parties, with New Democracy saying it revealed “the authentic nature of the Tsipras government,” while To Potami dismissed Polakis as nothing but a “phony tough guy” when SYRIZA was in opposition and a “phony tough guy” as a minister.