In any case, MP Branko Simonovič was wronged, and the actions caused him at least some moral damage, if not more; the president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists, Jože Biščak, assessed. “But that was obviously the intention – to slander Simonovič because he publicly supported the centre-right government, and perhaps thus force him to do the opposite. Which is especially vile and abominable and not worthy of the journalistic or editorial profession,” he pointed out. However, the journalist of the national public media organisation RTV Slovenia, Eugenia Carl, has no intentions of apologising to the deputy. She believes that her article about how the MP’s degree supposedly does not exist was by no means disputable, and that if anyone, the representatives of the faculty from Zagreb should apologise, as they did not immediately find Simonovič’s degree certificate.
As we have already reported, the Faculty of Economics of the University of Zagreb confirmed a few days ago that the degree of Brane Simonovič is credible. The MP already showed a certificate of completion of his degree last week, after the journalist Eugenia Carl reported on national television that his higher education degree was disputable or that it even does not exist. The public RTVS did not believe his evidence, they wrote that they would also check the credibility of his proof in Zagreb. Simonovič, of course, wanted Carl to apologise to him: “I have had some very difficult and unpleasant days. The allegations that I do not have a formal education, which I always list in all public sources, are not pleasant. Especially if they appear in a media outlet like the national RTV Slovenia,” the MP wrote in a press release. He described Carl’s claims that he did not graduate, which were published even before he was even given the opportunity to prove otherwise, unprofessional and unethical. According to him, this might even be considered a crime.
However, Carl does not think she should apologise. She wrote on Facebook that the article was published on the basis of the fact that the MP had not proved his alleged completion of education at the University of Zagreb with any document and that the institution had clearly denied holding his thesis or having any information about it. According to her, the article did not claim that MP Simonovič had not completed his studies or that he did not have a degree, but merely stated the facts gathered on the basis of the answers of the official institutions and the MP’s response. “How come just a few days later, the University of Zagreb found the alleged certificates of completion of the education programme of the deputy in question and confirmed the authenticity of the document from the photo that Simonovič provided to the Slovenian public, is not something I want to speculate about,” she wrote, emphasising that the article was in no way disputable, not from the point of view of compliance with the Programme Criteria of RTV Slovenia, nor from the Slovene Association of Journalists’ ethics code, or, ultimately, in regards to the Media Act. “An apology from Mr. Simonovič is needed, but not from me. Zagreb should apologise,” she stated. On the MMC web portal, we can still read that they now also want to see the deputy’s thesis, his and Zagreb’s certificates are obviously not enough for them.
Why do they not ask Tomaž Vesel for his certificate?
Jože Biščak, president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists, commented that what is happening between the RTV Slovenia journalist Eugenia Carl and DeSUS MP Branko Simonovič regarding his diploma in Zagreb, reminded him of a “loaded question” or a journalistic question “with a twist.” This is already known from the Diogenes’s story of the philosopher Menedem. Some guy Alexinus asked him if he had already stopped beating his wife. No matter how you respond to that question, you inevitably admit guilt. If you say yes, you admit that you used to beat her, but do not do it anymore. If you say no, you admit that you are still beating her. “What I mean to say is that a civil servant from Kolodvorska street 2 started “investigating” rumours that Simonovič allegedly has no formal education and that he supposedly did not graduate from the Faculty of Foreign Trade in Zagreb (and thus earn the title of economist) with an already established position, that the rumours are true and that the DeSUS MP can do nothing else but confirm them. And, of course, repent,” Biščak added. He went on to explain that the MP had promised to the journalist that he would look for his certificate of the degree as he had graduated more than 40 years ago, and one certainly does not remember where he had put or misplaced such a certificate. However, even before he was able to find anything, Carl had already begun posting publish posts on Facebook, claiming that he had never even graduated. “It is strange that they did not request a similar certificate from the President of the Court of Audit, Tomaž Vesel, who stated that he had the “positive opinion” of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption regarding his “afternoon work” at UEFA. Anyhow, it later turned out that Simonovič really does have the certificate and the degree’s existence was also confirmed by the Faculty of Zagreb,” he confirmed.
The editor-in-chief of the conservative-oriented Demokracija magazine also emphasised that the least that should be expected from the journalist was a public apology to the deputy, who she publicly accused of lying and portrayed him as a fraud and liar. It is perfectly normal that the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb had a hard time finding the document quickly because, at the time when Simonovič graduated, the documents were not yet digitalised. Carl’s excuses that she is not to be blamed for this, as she only worked with the information she had (read: rumours), does not hold. In any case, MP Branko Simonovič was wronged, and the actions caused him at least some moral damage, if not more. “But that was obviously the intention – to slander Simonovič because he publicly supported the centre-right government, and perhaps thus force him to do the opposite. Which is especially vile and abominable and not worthy of the journalistic or editorial profession. Such actions are a shame for our community,” Biščak wrote.