Recently we have been witness to a contest between Greece’s two main political parties, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and New Democracy (ND), over which is worse in terms of their authoritarian handling of the media.
“ND’s stock strategy, it appears, is to give ‘orders’ to private broadcasters, taking on the role of editor in chief at times and presenter at others,” newspaper Avgi wrote last week in response to a demand by ND’s press officer, Sofia Zacharaki, for a video showing the opposition party’s position on the issue of changes to the length of the working week to be shown in its entirety rather than an edited version.
It does indeed take a great deal of nerve on the part of the pro-government newspaper to accuse New Democracy of attempting to manipulate the media when just the previous day, during a program presented by journalist Katerina Akrivopoulou, public broadcaster ERT screened a vulgar mash-up video that mixed together bits from an animated short featuring a “stubborn donkey” with snippets of political statements and lyrics by Greek composer Stamatis Kraounakis.
A few days earlier, former deputy migration policy minister Yiannis Balafas criticized ERT journalists for referring to the “13th pension” as a “benefit” and effectively adopting the term used by the conservative opposition.
Even dafter was a fake video that circulated on pro-government media outlets purportedly showing a loggerhead sea turtle on a leash so as to serve Mitsotakis’ campaign needs on the island of Kastellorizo. Anyone who has visited the Dodecanese island will tell you that the turtles are frequently spotted near the port regardless of political preference.
Meanwhile, certain pro-opposition media and journalists have lost every ounce of credibility as they rush to side with the election favorites in the runup to the July 7 polls, portraying the expected fall of the incumbent leftists as liberation from some sort of left-wing junta.
Both sides are, above all, harming the status of Greek journalism. We will hopefully not have to see a repeat of the typical revanchism at ERT. As some troll wrote on Twitter, the best revenge on Akrivopoulou would be to have her share the panel with New Democracy ministers.
It will also be interesting to see how the media which are now cozying up to the conservatives will be in a position to exercise some minimal control of power should Mitsotakis becomes prime minister.
Given the poor quality of journalism and the parties’ election tickets, which increasingly resemble revolving doors, voters will have to hold their noses as they head to the ballot box.