OPINION

Guiding the media

It appears that the campaign period and the national elections will take place in a peculiar context that has come to be described as «rule by the media.» This is a misleading expression as, in fact, what we are experiencing is nothing but the domination of the ruling party mechanism over the local media. The consequences of this are to be seen on a daily basis ever since it became clear that Foreign Minister George Papandreou would become the next chairman of the Socialist party. Virtually all the media have suddenly focused their lenses on the prime minister-in-waiting, watching his every move, to a point of ludicrousness that will do him more harm than good. But this is something to be determined by Papandreou himself and is not what concerns us here. Politically speaking, it is perhaps the first time the media have demonstrated the degree to which they are dependent on the governing party, in fact making clear to the public that they are held ransom to a network of corruption. The media are unable to shake off these ties because their very existence is dependent on state decisions. At the same time, they do not want to because their economic viability and economic expectations are tied to the government of PASOK. The media are not offering their services without reward. It seems that the role they have been appointed to carry out up to election day is to hang the «national debate» on the Papandreou name. The pilgrimage to Papandreou’s ancestral village of Kalentzi, reminiscent of old-party campaign tactics, provided a sample of the media hoopla – and a cheap one at that. The conservative opposition New Democracy, which is also a front runner in the March parliamentary elections, has been clearly pushed into second place. The ND party does not expect to benefit from the favoritism which PASOK has enjoyed thanks to its murky exchanges or pure blackmail. Needless to say, the rest of Greece’s opposition parties have been completely eliminated from the airwaves. State television behaves as if it were part of Christos Protopapas’s Press Ministry. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that state television is funded by taxpayer money, meaning that the viewing public is subjected to brainwashing at their own cost. The ordered mobilization of the majority of the media highlights the urgency of severing the bonds that exist between the State and the ruling party. This is not a partisan demand; it is a democratic one.