Berlusconi declares war on the press

An anonymous reader writes,
This Italian news piece reports the latest uncostitutional boutade of PM Silvio Berlusconi, who actually declared "I am tempted to direct and strong actions against the media because of their disinformation about me". Translated from mafiaspeak (his ties with that organization have been widely documented in several trials, so this is no slander), this means: "I am going to sue the hell out of anybody not incensing me, and order their immediate firing just like I did a few years ago with journalistic legends like Indro Montanelli, Eugenio Scalfari and others".

But what is all the fuss about? Well, those evil media people - and yes, I am one of them - dared to report yet another series of diplomatical blunders by Berlusconi. I.e. shouting in presence of H.M. the Queen of England, who had to reprimand him; Ignoring the assembled world leaders to have a friendly chat on his mobile phone while the International press was watching; Claiming credit for the success of yesterday's G20 meeting after a very embarassing performance before his "not-so-peers"; Accusing America as the only responsible of the Italian crisis and requesting Barack Obama to "sort out the mess you made in my country", and the list goes on and on.

And... ready for the final straw? The Italian minister responsible for policing the Internet is none other than... a former showgirl and Berlusconi's mistress, with family ties in the local equivalent of the RIAA. Do you really want a piece of the Interweb in the manicured hands of such a person?

Berlusconi furioso con la stampa italiana "Mi calunniano, tentato da azioni dure"

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  1. In case anybody is wondering if these few lines draw an exagerated picture of the Italian political landscape the answer is no. Our PM controls pretty much all the mainstream information channels while painting himself as a victim of the media.
    Foreign media and the few sources he does not control are usually defined “leftish” (including “The Economist”).
    The law which is being proposed is aimed at making anonymous access to internet content illegal.
    As for the state of the economy the attitude is “What?! Me worried?!!”.

  2. At least my friends in Italy are not surprised when I tell them I am not really eager to go back there until he gets out of the way … (note: I *love* my country, but the situation is so f#cked up …)

  3. An Italian fascist? How delightfully retro!

    Seriously, why is anyone surprised by this guy being an utter jackass. He’s Italy’s version of George W. Bush with none of Bush’s better qualities.

    Him, his French counterpart Sarkozy, and GW Bush should quit politics and become TV comedians.

  4. Berlusconi’s connections to the Mafia are very, very weak. Sort of on par with Obama connections to domestic terrorism and William Ayres. No charges have ever been brought… Basically a few mafia turncoats have made charged, but none of those charges have been substantial enough, or with enough evidence to do anything about it. It’s also quite common for people leaving the mafia to make these sorts of allegations about sitting politicians…

  5. #7, I beg to differ.

    There are, in fact, several books detailing the full paper trail of the many trials where Berlusconi was put under judgement for crimes fully or partially related to mafia. The only problem is that they are (obviously) not publicized by the PM’s media empire – which accounts for about 80% of the entire non-electronic media output of Italy.

    Interested readers can google for “Marco Travaglio” who is the single journalist stubbornly researching facts about and against Berlusconi (and the rest of the very corrupted Italian government). He has a bilingual website where you will find many reports which are really “stranger than fiction”. But true, nonetheless.

    To sum it up briefly, most of the legal proceedings against Berlusconi fell into proscription even if all the proofs were against him. One of the reason was a stalling tactic that can be summed up with “I won’t appear on trial because I am oh so very busy with political business” – for over ten years straight!
    Other cases had to fall when he passed a special law allowing himself and the other top men in the government full immunity from trials. Yet other cases fall under other special laws: in example the “Mills trial” recently had a London lawyer ruled guilty for corruption. He accepted a large sum to oil up business for one of Berlusconi’s brands… but Italian journalists aren’t allowed to write that said sum was obviously paid by the PM, or they risk being jailed.

    To go back to the mafia accusations, here are just two gems among many. Berlusconi employed and sheltered for many years a top mafia man named Mangano “as his stableboy”. When Mangano was finally indicted, the PM rushed to publicly declare that “Italy’s real heroes are people like Mangano”. Shades of the Godfather, anyone?
    Or get this. Berlusconi famously refuses to answer just one simple question: “Where did you get all the money to build a whole city (actually named Milano 2, no joke) when you were just a simple singer on cruise ships and there are hundreds of proofs of your contact with prominent mafia men?” Ask this, and you’ll get buried under tons of accusations of slander… but no answer for you, pal.

    Please, help raise awareness about what is happening in Italy: this is just a test run for gagging freedom in the rest of the world.

  6. Nitpick: The last paragraph was a bit sexist there, wasn’t it? I don’t think having been a showgirl or getting manicures precludes one from being able to do a political job. Granted, I’m sure she is unqualified, but you don’t have to use gendered sleights to get that across. You can just say, “She only got the job because she was his mistress.”

    Otherwise, though, keep on fighting the good fight.

  7. @Takuan what is your Cicciolina link supposed to prove, that Italians have no protestant guilt when it comes to electing MPs?

    I’m no lover of Berlusconi, but “shouting in presence of H.M. the Queen of England” (I suppose you mean Mrs Elizabeth Windsor) is hardly a blunder – she’s just an old lady who occasionaly travels by cart to keep tourists amused.

    The sad thing about Berlusconi is that the opposition are utterly useless and unable to put up an even half-credible alternative.

  8. No, Takuan. You can’t say that. The citizens of Abruzzo aren’t any more responsible for Berlusconi than the rest of Italy. Little children have died in this quake, and a student dormitory there has collapsed.

    (I haven’t suffered. I woke up at 3:30 to find my room shaking, and listened to my hotel — it’s in an old, heavy, multi-story masonry building — make snapping and cracking noises as it shook. It was scary, but that was all.)

  9. Said showgirl, Gabriella Carlucci, posted the draft document of her proposal for IP control on her blog: http://www.gabriellacarlucci.it/2009/03/03/pedofilia-e-internet/proposta-di-legge/

    Downloading the .doc file a looking at the authors, the “originally created by” field states “Davide Rossi”, President of Univideo, the italian MPAA: http://www.univideo.org/cms/index.php?dir_pk=45

    There are just too many wrong things with this, decent people would be out in the streets screaming with rage.
    But Italians (and even the so-called “opposition”!!!) are just happy with their government, they love Mr Berlusconi and all his circus.
    I left Italy and have no plans to go back.

  10. “his ties with that organization have been widely documented in several trials, so this is no slander”

    Just a question: which sentences charge the prime minister for being tied to mafia? Answer: none.

    So, even though you do not like the prime minister, you have no evidence to base those words on.

    Then, we have low level ministers, I won’t let them drive my car.

  11. One idea comes to my mind. What if the journalists simply refused to inform about his (and the likes) person at all? Ok, it’s the prime minister, so write what he said or did, but refrain from any commentary. Also address him only by his function, not by the name.
    Some kind of “Spielmansfluch (Bard’s curse)”, 21th century like.

  12. fritz – “shouting in presence of H.M. the Queen of England” (I suppose you mean Mrs Elizabeth Windsor) is hardly a blunder

    Really!?!?

    Through my liberal media here in the USA I heard ALL about how rude it was when Michelle Obama put her hand lightly on the Queen’s shoulder the day prior as they met…

    … even though the Queen returned the favor and placed her hand on M.O.’s back rather than shrinking away.

    fritz – it was a blunder. It may not be accidental, but it was a mistake.

  13. #15, that would be impossible because:

    a) Mr. B owns the three most-viewed television channels, and controls the three following suit;

    b) Mr. B owns well over 70% of the printed newspapers, magazines, etc.

    c) Very few Italian journalists would ever dare risking imprisonment or other forms of retaliation for something as cheap as truth

    d) Mr. B and his cohorts trained the whole country to disregard actual politics in favor of continuous shouting matches between corrupted politicians, and nobody really cares.

  14. I think people care. They’re just not sure what to do about it.

  15. @MDH, you are missing the point. Mrs Windsor is just an old lady. Let’s stop this nonsense about royal families and etiquette.

    I am surprised Cory Doctorow implicity supports the idea of royalty. Let me remind you of how the British royals got rich – selling opium to China, the enslavement of millions in Africa and Asia, starving as a political tool in Ireland and India, and so forth and so forth.

    1. fritz,

      That’s how everybody in the first world got rich, or at least far richer than their colonial counterparts.

  16. Fritz from London:

    @MDH, you are missing the point.

    MDH has a detectable point. Strive to do likewise.

    Mrs Windsor is just an old lady. Let’s stop this nonsense about royal families and etiquette.

    I’m surprised that someone who signs himself “from London” can have missed this one, but the British monarchy actually exists, and is part of the British government.

    I am surprised Cory Doctorow implicity supports the idea of royalty.

    No. He acknowledges that it exists. That’s a very different thing.

    Let me remind you of how the British royals got rich –

    Is this your idea of historical analysis? Must try harder and do better. I suggest you start by reading the Wikipedia entry on the subject.

    selling opium to China, the enslavement of millions in Africa and Asia, starving as a political tool in Ireland and India, and so forth and so forth.

    No. Try it again, and this time use better sources. “Misdeeds of the British Empire” does not equal “sources of enrichment of the British monarchy.”

  17. Have you seen the video of Berlusconi at the G20 making German Chancellor Merkel wait while he talks on his cellphone? She tries to maintain a smile, then says fuck it and just leaves him (can anybody who speaks German make out what she says as she leaves?)

    http://209.85.133.132/translate_c?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sl=it&tl=en&u=http://tv.repubblica.it/copertina/il-giallo-di-berlusconi/31347%3Fvideo&prev=_t&usg=ALkJrhj6Vl_yHFc-NsIyyGwwTlATyi118A

    Berlusconi has absolutely no class at all. No class.

  18. Teresa Nielsen Hayden does your double barrelled surname mean you are from “aristocratic” stock, is that what gets you all worked up?

    my point, which you are choosing to ignore, is that the idea of royalty and aristocracy is bogus, and we shouldn’t propagate it. Breaching “royal etiquette” by annoying Mrs Windsor is no more relevant to the real world than breaching etiquette at a Star Trek convention by refusing to speak Klingon.

    You say: “Is this your idea of historical analysis? Must try harder and do better. I suggest you start by reading the Wikipedia entry on the subject.”
    that says it all, really…

  19. OK I’ve read up about Teresa’s double barreled surname (as if I had nothing better to do, but anyway) so that bit of my comment was off. I just don’t understand what you’re getting so worked up about, some people are militantly anti-royalists, and I thought you’d be too, judging by the stuff you guys publish on your site.

    as for you takuan, are getting bored of making fun of dead people yet?

  20. OK I’ve read up about Teresa’s double barreled surname (as if I had nothing better to do, but anyway) so that bit of my comment was off. I just don’t understand what you’re getting so worked up about, some people are militantly anti-royalists, and I thought you’d be too, judging by the stuff you guys publish on your site.

    as for you takuan, are getting bored of making fun of dead people yet?

  21. OK I’ve read up about Teresa’s double barreled surname (as if I had nothing better to do, but anyway) so that bit of my comment was off. I just don’t understand what you’re getting so worked up about, some people are militantly anti-royalists, and I thought you’d be too, judging by the stuff you guys publish on your site.

    as for you takuan, are getting bored of making fun of dead people yet?

  22. Ok, I’ve read up about Teresa’s double barreled name, so that bit of my comment was off, but still.
    I still don’t get why you are getting so worked up about the British royal family, judging from the content of this website I would have thought you guys would be on the republican (as in anti-royalist) side.

    And you Takuan, you bored of posting comments making fun of dead people?

  23. Takuan, thanks for taking time out of making fun of dead people to alert me about the origin of Teresa’s double barrelled surname. That bit of my comment was obviously off, but still, I don’t understand why she gets so worked up about royalty

  24. [sorry about all the comments, the BB interface gave me an error everytime I clicked submit and I assume it hadn’t gone trough]

  25. I don’t think we need ANYONE to police the internet.

    But if i had to choose someone to do it, it would be a former showgirl.

  26. Let’s not forget his involvement with yellow cake nonsense that got us into Iraq war. I think it would have done a world of wonder for Italy if after the WW2 we would have held them to their wrongs as strongly as we did Germany and Japan. We would not be seeing this Mussolini Version 2.0

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