Lucas Guttenberg is the Deputy Director of the Jacques Delors Center, a European Union-oriented think tank. He became known to many Slovenians active on Twitter only when he passionately defended Politico’s journalist Lili Bayer, who wrote an article accusing Prime Minister Janez Janša of intimidating and persecuting media he does not like. The Prime Minister was criticised because he dared to write that this was not true and to draw attention to the fact that she did not state the position of the government at all, even though it had been forwarded to her. Now, Guttenberg even went so far as to start spreading information about the threat to press freedom in Slovenia, even though he has been warned by intellectuals that this is not the case in practice.
“Freedom of the press has come under pressure in many Member States of the European Union. Not only in Hungary, but also in Slovenia, as Lili Bayer impressively describes it,” Lucas Guttenberg recently wrote, adding that Prime Minister Janez Janša, who he described as a fan of former US President Donald Trump, has a role to play in all this.
Janša pointed out Guttenberg’s misleading statements. He thinks it is sad that he is spreading false news around on the basis of sources such as the article written by the journalist of Politico on the basis of unnamed sources. In addition, there is a video that shows what the situation in Slovenia really is like. We live in a country where on illegal protests death is openly threatened with, and no one cares. While the competent institutions are faking ignorance, death is being threatened with and a ball with the image of the Prime Minister is being kicked around. Given that the media are supposed to act for the benefit of the people and to warn when something is happening that is deviant and does not fall into the context of the normalcy of a democratic state in the 21st century, it is especially sad to watch the central media ignore it. Above all, the reporting of the national television, for which all Slovenian households are forced to pay, is unfortunate. Instead of condemning the act of deviance, the media prefer to act stupid and, on top of that, promote activities where death is being threatened with.
It is especially difficult to understand why Guttenberg is spreading such misleading news, given that he was informed some time ago – also by Slovenian intellectuals – that the Politico article is about selling an image of the media landscape that has little to do with reality. Sociologist dr. Borut Rončević explained to Guttenberg that in the case of reporting by Bayer, it seems that this is not critical reporting. “It is a file based on “anonymous” statements and anecdotal evidence,” he said critically and informed him about the recent analysis of the reporting of the 10 most important Slovenian media, which showed that 80 percent of the media are mostly anti-government, 18 percent neutral, 2 percent pro-government. “There is not much oppression…,” Rončević emphasised. Given that Janša was criticised for merely pointing out that these were false allegations, Rončević stressed that it is necessary to be aware that just as journalists have the right to criticise politicians, politicians also have the right to criticise the work of journalists. “This is about democracy, not a threat to democracy,” he was clear.
Instead of thinking about the video, Guttenberg rather added this: “Man, get a life”. Probably because when watching the footage of individuals walking around hostilely and calling for death, he really could not say that he supports something like that. Namely, that would give a person the creeps. Support for such deviant behaviour has even led to the fact that at one of the anti-government protests, it looked as if Ljubljana was in the middle of a minefield. It was this protest that provided evidence that such behaviour must be condemned.
Of course, it is sad that a distorted story is being sold abroad, showing how the media is supposed to be under pressure, how to report. Especially because we can see that most of the mainstream media are unhesitatingly attacking the work of the government because it does not like it. One-sided reporting is accordingly prevalent. In light of this, talking about how the media is supposed to be intimidated is, of course, ridiculous. When it is criticised without hesitation, there are no consequences. In countries where there is a dictatorship, the story is, of course, quite different. There, people are imprisoned, or they simply disappear, all relatives disappear, etc. So it would be right to finally call a spade a spade. Selling the story outwardly, that criticism in democracy is not allowed because it is given by Janša, is perverted. Namely, when someone from the left political pole talks critically, there are no stories that s/he is attacking the media. It is necessary to be aware that selling distorted stories at the end of the day damages the reputation of the country as a whole. Is this really necessary? After all, it is a common homeland.