Scare-mongering media

The only force putting up any opposition to the government – and it is sharp – comes from newspapers supporting PASOK and politically motivated TV channels. The Socialists themselves are keeping a low profile, which is probably due to the party leadership’s view that Greece does indeed need reform. Popular opposition is so muted that the government is entitled to claim the consent of society to take steps and break away from the interests of the few. The way is clear, then, for the government to act boldly on new reforms to free up the economy’s productive forces. But will the media, with its harsh and at times excessive criticism, eventually force it to retreat? This is no abstract question but a political one, since in the developed world the role of the press is decisive. In many cases internationally, investigative journalism has overturned not only policies but governments and even presidents. I asked a friend of mine, an economy minister, if his government is bothered by the daily attacks from newspapers and TV. His response was a categorical «no.» Not only does it not bother them, he said, it actually helps. In response to my surprised «How can that be?» he replied that the public no longer believes such scare-mongering news reports. «If you turn on the leading channel of that type and listen to the news, for instance, you’ll get the impression that Greece is starving, swamped in debt and at the point of collapse. Of course we have problems and difficulties, but who believes the end is nigh?» The minister added something else important: «I’ll admit that I, being obliged to take tough measures to save the economy, am helped by this frantic criticism, because the newspapers and channels have scared the public with talk of extreme measures. When I announce mine, which are naturally milder, people are relieved.» The conclusion? Take it easy; lies have short legs and don’t go far.

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