A long way to a simple message

A long way to a simple message

Parliament’s special committee tasked with investigating the funding of political parties and media outlets ended its work last week after nine months of deliberations in which dozens of witnesses were questioned (mainly representatives of political parties, banks and the media) and thousands of documents studied, relating to loans issued to parties, newspapers and television stations.

After all that hullabaloo, the committee concluded that it found no evidence suggesting that political officials were implicated in any illegal transactions or activities. Lawmakers are expected to start debating the decision on Wednesday, but the committee’s full report has now been put into the hands of judicial authorities, according to Parliament’s announcement. They, in turn, will conduct their own investigation into whether parties or media outlets were illegally funded.

So what does this tell us? Does it tell us that parliamentary investigative committees are useless because this one failed to come up with any specific findings? Not at all. What better excuse could the government have found to again rail against the “corruption triangle of political parties, media and banks,” to cause a stir and to further undercut the media’s reliability and respectability?

Does that mean that there are no entangled interests and everything is right as rain in the relationships between parties, banks and media? Of course not. Anyone who believes that is either deeply naive or has a specific agenda. The issue at hand, however, is what comes next after an institution is used to mislead the public, to feed the futile and histrionic war between the different political parties (it is well known that each party will interpret a committee ruling however it sees fit) and to sully everyone, the guilty and the innocent, with a little bit of the dirt of blame.

The answer, of course, is the people’s judgment and the decisions of justice. Both are used as a smoke screen and as a bandage. The former because it has the amazing flexibility of turning instantly from victim to ultimate tormentor, and the latter because it is evoked by the political system when it wants to make a statement that will not be questioned or doubted.

Basically, a lot of hard work has gone into sending a message that Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s media strategist, said in one phrase: “The media should… keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile.”

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