OPINION

Televised interrogation

Virtually all private television channels used terms such as «confusion» and «disarray» to describe the state to which the government was reduced as it struggled to survive the reverberations of the helicopter crash off the coast of Mount Athos last weekend. Yet the New Democracy government would be wrong to interpret its unfriendly treatment by the media as a warning by vested interests, as some conservative officials have described it. Many in the media are known to be hostile toward the new government. They put up a strong fight to prevent an election victory for the ND party that had pledged to purge their field of conflicting interests. Hence, it was to be expected that they would rush to emphasize the government’s slip-ups and emphasize the cacophony of the conservative officials’ conflicting statements. Even the TV networks that have no reason to fear or attack the current government yielded to the temptation of high ratings offered by the aftermath of the helicopter accident, which revolved around the ambiguous and contradictory statements about the exact time that each minister was informed of the accident, their neglected obligation to notify the prime minister, and their political responsibilities. Nearly all of the government’s responsible ministers, and numerous others not involved with the issue, accepted at face value the televised interrogation and confrontation with their predecessors in the PASOK government. For days, we saw current and former ministers explaining themselves, trading barbs and accusations with their Socialist counterparts under the watchful eye of their TV arbiters – the usual jurors who approve or disapprove the politicians’ testimonies and condemn or acquit the defendants. Parliamentary monitoring and political confrontation have undoubtedly moved from the legislature to TV panels. This pathetic sight, under the pretext of «informing the public,» gives talk-show hosts the right to invite anyone willing to appear. It is the guest who has to be wary, as the debate subject and identity of his fellow panelists are unknown to him. He knows he may be caught off guard, get asked misleading questions or be trapped. It is mainly politicians who fall victim to such humiliation before the cameras. With famous guests from the non-political world, however, the host generally puts on a totally different face, passing from arrogance to subservience.