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From the Outside, the Media and Political Events in Slovenia Look Stupid, Like a Tribal Fight Which is Also Distracting Us From the Key Issues We Should Face instead!

“After everything we have heard and were also able to see for ourselves, it is clear that even the so-called reputable and traditional media are no longer what they used to be. They look down on Slovenia, do not know our situation, or simply do not want to really delve into what they are writing about. In some cases, not even the “j” of the word journalism is left. They report in accordance with an agenda that has been prepared in advance and are willing to shamelessly forget about all of the basic principles of journalistic and reporting ethics, and they do not want to hear any different opinions – which is the basis for objective reporting, but not for activism and fan journalism,” said the TV show host Igor Pirkovič.

In this week’s episode of the TV show Na tretjem (On the third channel) on RTV Slovenia, Igor Pirkovič said in the introduction: “I am happy to welcome the distinguished experts on the media, political and social scene, Mr. Miloš Čirić and dr. Matevž Tomšič, in our studio.” Pirkovič then added that they would be talking about the Slovenian and European media landscape and also about the announced Impeachment before the Constitutional Court. He reminded the viewers of the recent contribution of the German television ARD, which published a segment on respect for media rights, the media landscape in Slovenia, and the respect for constitutionally guaranteed rights in Slovenia. Pirkovič pointed out that some perceived the segment as very one-sided. Journalist Bojan Požar also came forward, as he was surprised to find out that he was not included in the segment, even though he was filmed extensively by the German television station, as he said.

They then showed a recording in which Požar presented his experience with the journalist from the German network ARD. “I was invited for an interview. We agreed on a date. I drove from Maribor to Ljubljana for our conversation, and the whole thing lasted about thirty minutes. This was on Tuesday, and the segment was then published on Wednesday, March 31st, and on Saturday, I had the time to actually watch it, and I saw that I am not in it – not even for a second,” Požar explained. And as for the conversation, he said that he had already had a bad feeling while recording the clips. Namely, he saw that the journalist was not all that satisfied with Požar’s answers to his questions, which he also clearly showed with his facial expressions and additional questions. However, Požar did not believe that the story could go that far that they would actually just erase the entire 30 minutes of the footage.

First, the host of the show spoke to Čirić, as he knows the social media scene from up close, and remarked that we have our own opinion of it in Slovenia. “It is obvious that the German and Western-European media scene is no longer what it used to be, as shown by the interesting thing that happened to Bojan Požar.” “I believe that this has changed all over the world, and if you read analyses anywhere in the world, you see that the problems are mostly similar everywhere. What we see here is no different than anywhere else.” The question is just how we transmit things and what we display. With this, Čirić stated that he has five very good friends, which are called: why, how, where, when, with whom, and so on. He thinks of them when something is not clear to him or when he wants to know why somebody would do something or how to get to the right information. And if you ask these friends a question, you get very unusual answers.

“Preachers” are not interested in the truth: they are just trying to convince others that they are right
“People’s thinking patterns can be divided into several parts: some of them are preachers. This means that they know the truth, and now they simply have to convince the others to start following it. Then we have the prosecutors. They have their own “case,” and they also know the truth and can maybe even argue it. If you look at what happened to Bojan Požar – this is a typical example of someone who believed in their own truth, which did not include Bojan, and so they decided to ignore this part of the story completely,” Čirić explained. This is why a journalistic scene like that actually has nothing to do with journalism. A journalist should, in principle, be a scientist: he has a certain hypothesis, and then he asks questions and seeks answers to see if his hypothesis will be confirmed. The ARD journalist, however, acted like a preacher.
Pirkovič then turned to Tomšič. He pointed out that this happened with a reputable media outlet. He wanted to know how much of this reputation was actually left, given that ARD is not without a reputation.

Prior to that, he also showed Požar’s comment on the matter: “I have been in the journalism business for a long time now, and this seemed really unusual for me. As the journalist Bojan Požar from Slovenia, I had cultivated considerable respect for the great, established foreign media, especially in this part of the western civilisation. However, I am not making any of this up when I claim that I was censored, given that I then received an e-mail from this journalist and that I also published the part in which he explicitly writes that I was cut out simply because I was not directed against Janša strongly enough. In short, the only reason I was excluded from this interview was the fact that, in his opinion, I did not take enough of a stance against Janša. And I cannot call that anything else but political censorship. Why is such a large and reputable media outlet as the ARD doing this? I believe there are two reasons: one is that they are taking advantage of some information coming from Slovenia, from a certain group of journalists who have turned into classic political activists, and on the other hand, I think that there is a longer agenda behind all of this, in the form of certain global political conflicts that are happening in Europe.”

In the Western media, journalism has turned into political activism
“Anyone who read the entire article on Požareport, where Požar described this experience, as we only saw a few excerpts here, lost any and all illusions of the so-called serious western journalism – journalism that is supposed to be cultivated in the reputable western media. What was extremely shocking for me is not just that the journalist had some sort of an agenda but also how poorly prepared he was. As Požar wrote, the journalist actually had no idea what the Slovenian situation is actually like, even though he is a man living in Vienna, which is a three-hour drive from the Slovenian border, and he allegedly did not even know the most basic facts about our situation,” Tomšič was appalled. The journalist supposedly came to Slovenia completely unprepared, which shows the extraordinary degradation of the journalistic profession. A journalist was once considered to be an intellectual. He had to have a broad education; if he conducted an interview or prepared an article on a topic, he thoroughly prepared for it, checked all the facts that were available to him and got to know what he was writing about very well. Now, however, this is something that is done in a rush, as it is enough for a journalist to only have an agenda, to enforce an ideology, and sometimes it seems as if the facts are actually in his way, instead of being the main source of information.

Such journalists have become a kind of combination between preachers and agitprop people. This is about propaganda. And the result of it is all of the fake news that the dominant media loves to talk about and attribute to others when in reality, they are the main generators of the fake news. Pirkovič was interested in why, despite his ignorance of the basic political facts about Slovenia, the ARD journalist decided to exclude Požar from the segment just because he did not say anything critical about Janša.
Čirič: “In part, Bojan already answered this question. Last summer, the BBC aired a series of shows on how journalists work. Once upon a time, a segment like that was being compiled for a month or even longer because some serious research had to be done in order to prepare for it, which is no longer the case.”  Čirič also asked several of his friends what this looks like in practice. They obtain the information by browsing the web or searching for other journalists, or more often friends, who are internationally recognisable. If a similar story was to be made, for example, about Albania, about which we all know something, the question would be whether we actually know their political system or if we know what is actually going on there… And then somebody would filter the data for us…

The feeling that the whole world revolves around Slovenia is false
“We have this illusion of what the foreign media are like, just as we had the illusion of liberalism in the past, which was practically an ideology. And now, they are trying to turn journalism into an ideology, which, of course, is not right.” With this, Pirkovič drew attention to the feeling that the world revolves around Slovenia and that human rights are being violated in our country. The Slovenian media often summarises foreign articles from different media, such as The Economist, or, for example, Politico, with which it all began. The Economist is known as a media outlet with tradition. It is also known that the Ministry of Culture has been sending objections to the articles that have been published in the foreign media, but no one is interested in that. “Even the media which have some sort of tradition are subject to these negative trends.” With this, he cited the example of the once reputable New York Times, when years ago, it turned out that one of its journalists was literally making up articles, and a similar thing also happened in Der Spiegel and other media outlets. Tomšič wondered how it was even possible that such stories were published, despite the fact that certain people knew that their authors were making them up. But because the journalists published what the leaders of these outlets wanted to hear, they turned a blind eye to it and allowed it to happen.

Pirkovič was further interested in the impression we get because of the writing of the foreign media. Tomšič explained that these are exports of domestic political problems or health problems to the international arena. The political option, which was simply not able to accept the fact that it is no longer in power, and which believes that it is supposed to rule forever, regardless of the outcome of the election, thus expressed or alleviated some frustrations by forwarding its opinion to foreign media. And then the matter coincided well with what is currently going on in Europe, with some increasingly aggravated conditions. Ideological polarisation is extremely strong. We know of the constant attacks on Poland and Hungary, which are primarily ideologically motivated, because these two countries are not following a progressive ideological agenda, which is the main reason for the attacks, and not certain actual mistakes or problematic actions of their governments, and the Slovenian government is then simply being positioned in the same context. As a result, a wave was created, triggered by the domestic players, and at the same time, the progressive European politics happily ran with it.

The ARD journalist did not even have the basic knowledge of Slovenian politics
After that, another statement by Bojan Požar was shown, who stated that he got the feeling that the ARD journalist simply knows nothing about Slovenia, in terms of the media or politics, even though he was supposed to be ARD’s correspondent for the countries of South-Eastern Europe, so the Balkans, which also includes Slovenia. And such a reporter cannot actually determine whether something good or bad is happening in Slovenia. However, it may be true that other matters concerning Slovenia are being written about abroad, as well as topics related to our Prime Minister Janša; however, the Slovenian media do not want to report about this. With this, Požar mentioned the mass arrests that are happening in Belgrade, Seria, as he writes a lot about Aleksander Čeferin in connection with this, who is allegedly indirectly involved in these mafia stories. At the same time, there is also everything that is happening with Čeferin and UEFA regarding the changes in European football league competitions. Lots of reports about Čeferin are very negative, but the Slovenian media are not concerned with this at all and do not talk about it in Slovenia. A false feeling is being created that people in Europe are writing exclusively about Janša.

Pirkovič further wanted to know if Čirič could give a correct assessment of the situation, position, guarantee of human rights, media freedom and everything else in Slovenia. “What would you say to someone who is willing to write down your words but does not know the facts very well?” “We have to take the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic into account. The second thing is: look at the media ownership and prepare a serious analysis of it. And the third thing is: ask yourself what the consequences of your actions are. It should be borne in mind that foreign countries do not really care about Slovenia all that much. Some people are focused on us, but the number of those people is negligible.”
He also pointed out what the result of all of this is at home: additional fights. This is a game in which we all lose – both the opposition, as well as the coalition. When people argue with each other, most of them think: who wants to listen to this and deal with it. And as a result, they stop believing in anyone. In such situations, however, fake news gains its power. On both sides, there are believers who are in conflict with each other, but in reality, people are tired of this already. This poses a serious problem: we are dealing with these fights instead of devoting our time to serious, vital matters. Our lives need to go on.

The journalists have entered the political fight and became part of the policy that fights against Janša
The host of the show was further interested in whether there was a war going on between the media on the one hand and Prime Minister Janez Janša on the other. With this, Tomšič expressed his belief that this is a phenomenon that is not new but is certainly escalating. And Požar also gave his last assessment, which was basically already presented by the commentator Sebastjan Jeretič – that this is not a media war, but rather that the journalists have become an integral part of the political struggle or have moved from the media floor to the political floor. “And this is not a media war against Janša, but rather, the media is an extension or an integral part of politics. In reality, this is a political confrontation with Janez Janša because the majority of the media happens to be in the hands of the transitional left and are therefore being used as a means of confrontation with Janša.” This is not a media battle against Janša or vice versa – the battle of Janša against the media, but rather, it is a kind of political conflict because the transitional left, which is currently in the opposition, holds 90 percent of the Slovenian media in its hands.

This is actually a long story of a negative relationship between the Prime Minister and the mainstream media, which dates back to decades ago, and things have only escalated from there. Journalists are no longer the watchmen of democracy but political actors who appear in the political agenda. They are not an autonomous player; they are the ones who actually carry out the agenda of the centres of power of the transitional underground, the deep state and so on, which are hidden behind the scenes, so the agenda of those who would like to be in power, but do not want to actually run in the elections, Tomšič added. Pirkovič asked Čirič how to obtain objective information on the share of a certain opinion in the media space. “The key problem is that this ideological fight is not leading us to a solution. If Christianity and Islam clash, who will convince whom that they are right? It is necessary to find some coexistence and stop thinking about whether one or the other is right, but instead, start thinking about how we will be able to live better lives and how the viewers or listeners will be able to receive correct information so that we can separate what is information or data from the opinions,” Čirič added.  

The key decision-makers in European politics are well acquainted with the actual situation in Slovenian politics and the media
Čirič also said that he finds it funny how the journalists are also the commentators. As soon as you comment on something, you also express a certain measure of ideology. Once someone defines themselves, however, they lose credibility. The world is changing extremely fast, and if we are only concerned about ourselves, we cannot do what it takes to make our lives better. Tomšič also emphasised that the key decision-makers in the European politics are aware of the actual situation in our country and do not rely on some biased journalistic or political opinions; however, certain MPs, such as the radical Sophie in’ t Veld, who is a radical leftist, have joined a specific agenda. For example, everything that someone writes against a certain conservative government is close to In ‘t Veld. However, the fact remains that not only most Europeans but even most Slovenians are mostly not interested in such matters. The current crisis also brought us much more serious problems than what some foreign media are writing about us. Nevertheless, Pirkovič was interested in whether such writings, which will continue in one direction or another, are still considered to be innocent right before the period of Slovenia’s Presidency of the European Council.

Čirič: “None of this is innocent. Any such letter, any such thing, affects something. However, here is what this looks like to someone from the outside: it looks like some kind of a tribal fight. It seems as if we are nothing more than primitive calves who do not know how to solve anything by themselves and have to solve everything abroad. How do you see the situation in Bulgaria? What do you think of the situation in Romania? When you look at it from the side and do not have any in-depth knowledge about it, the question arises whether you would want to go on holiday to this country, or do business with it, and so on.” Tomšič expressed his belief that the opposition’s solution to this is not much better, which is also evident from the senseless Impeachment before the Constitutional Court. What is really bothering them is the fact that they cannot tolerate Prime Minister Janša.
The host and his two guests also touched on the issue of vaccines, which is also the main issue in the aforementioned Impeachment prepared by the opposition. Čirič denied the opinion of the opposition and emphasised that the matter should be taken over by the private sector, while Tomšič emphasised that the EU had really messed up when it comes to this, as it tried to tackle the problem in the typical bureaucratic way, just like the Slovenian administration. The Israelis, on the other hand, got to the vaccines as quickly as they did because they did not really ask about the price.
Čirič: “It is terrible that we cannot spend time with each other and that the hospitals are not working.”

The price of the vaccines is completely irrelevant because, for every day that we are not able to work, we lose a lot of money, and the isolation is killing us
“Our biggest interest should be to vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible, and the price of the vaccine is irrelevant in this case because, for every day that we are unable to work, we lose a lot financially, and at the same time, the worst thing for a person is isolation,” Čirič pointed out. Pirkovič also touched on the failed scenarios of the Constitutional Arch Coalition, and especially the current intentions of the Minister of the Economy, Zdravko Počivalšek, and his future political destiny or possible return to Parliament.

They also touched on early elections. Tomšič believes that Marjan Šarec and his party would benefit the most from the early elections. If they were to happen soon, the LMŠ party would still get its share of the votes, however, if the elections were to be held at the end of the term, another new face might already appear by then, and the party may even be left outside the gates of Parliament. The SDS party and the Levica party probably do not even care as much about this. In addition, Počivalšek’s SMC party is also not too keen on early elections.

Domen Mezeg

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