Most of the largest Slovenian media outlets were quite reluctant to report on any of Donald Trump’s achievement during his presidency, and their publications usually painted him in a bad light, as is also the case in most of the American media outlets, which are more left-leaning. According to the experts, this is mainly a reflection of the favouring of the left-wing political half on the domestic, Slovenian political stage. It was expected that the left-wing coalition would take advantage of the possibilities of cooperation with the U.S. Democrats in the past; however, the experts say that very little has been done to strengthen the relations with the United States.
The holiday of American democracy – the election of the president of the country, is behind us. Although the final results are not yet known and the uncertainty may drag on for a few more weeks, now is a good time to analyse the Slovenian media and their role in the events in the USA during the election campaign. We have already pointed out the biased broadcasts and commentators with deficient knowledge and with known political preferences, but this time, we also asked the experts in American politics for an expert assessment of the Slovenian media. Interestingly, their views did not differ much from our observations.
The first Slovenian Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States between the years 1997 and 2000, Dimitrij Rupel, estimates that the media have become quite reserved about the United States and the reporting on it after 2008 and that they have maintained this attitude of being reluctant to report on the situation in the United States throughout recent years, no matter who was in power, a Republican or a Democrat.
“The Slovenian media have a certain distant attitude towards the USA, as they believe that it is capitalist and stepmotherly in its treatment of other countries,” said Bogomil Ferfila, an expert on American politics and professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Former U.S. Ambassador between the years 2013 and 2017, Božo Cerar, believes that this is not exactly the best approach, as we should strengthen our relationship with the U.S., which is still considered to be the pillar of democracy. The Slovenian media outlets were more in favour of Biden’s victory. “As far as I can tell, very little has been written about Trump’s achievements in the mainstream media, even though I myself am critical of some of Trump’s actions. Especially from the point of view of the attitude towards Europe, however, it has started to turn in a more positive direction in recent months,” Cerar emphasized.
According to Ferfila, the Slovenian media have shown an obvious bias when reporting on the events from the USA, regardless of their knowledge. “I have noticed that the commentators and correspondents from abroad have a lot of knowledge, but it is quickly noticeable that our media outlets mainly use the media sources that are from the left political pole,” Ferfila explained. In his opinion, this stems from personal preferences, which he believes quickly leads to subjectivity in reporting.
The media should write objectively about foreign elections and leave the elections to their electorates
Above all, it can be said that our mainstream media even go beyond the level of biased commentary. “A good media outlet would feel obliged to give its readers a restrained, argumentative, honest and independent picture of the situation in another country,” said the former Slovenian ambassador to the United States between the years 1991 and 1997, Ernest Petrič. After all, the Americans are the ones who are deciding on who will sit in the White House in the future, regardless of whether the Slovenian media will write about all the theoretical good times coming after Biden’s victory.
“When it comes down to it, I just want, the United States to follow its values, based on the constitution and democracy, no matter who wins,” Cerar said. According to him, the Slovenian media’s support for the Democrats is a reflection of the domestic political orientation of the mainstream media, which he believes should not be reflected in reporting on foreign political events, as the Slovenian media has no influence on Americans’ decisions on the elections.
“I definitely believe that every journalist should report on the opinions of both parties, everyone should report with a certain level of objectivity,” said Petrič, the adviser to the President of the Republic of Slovenia. The thing that is the least appropriate for a foreign country is to take a political stand and interfere in the elections of another country. “This is just as if the foreign media outlets were writing about which party would be better in Slovenia, which is by no means appropriate,” Petrič added.
Ferfila believes that the journalists’ left-wing orientation mainly stems from their subjective thinking. According to Petrič and Cerar, this is primarily a reflection of the framework through which they assess the domestic political background. All experts agree that the actual framework of domestic politics and the journalists’ support is certainly reflected in the media when it comes to foreign elections.
Despite the support of the media and the centre-left coalitions, Slovenia did not use its potential during the Obama presidency
However, the aforementioned media orientation and the left-wing political option’s support for the Democrats did not prove profitable during the time of the centre-left Slovenian governments, when it comes to making partnerships and strengthening the relations between the two countries. “Meanwhile, the cheering of the media for one or the other option in the United States during the times of the centre-left governments in Slovenia, for example during the time of Barack Obama, who is a Democrat, did not bear fruit in improving the diplomatic relations. At that time, Slovenia somehow did not want or know how to use its potential,” Cerar, who was serving as ambassador in Washington at the time was critical of the former government’s attitude.
Slovenian media outlets also have a negative attitude towards the First Lady
Ferfila also talked about the state of the American media, which Slovenians like to copy. “Look, the pay-for-advertising ratio on television: Joe Biden had paid for twice as many ads on television as Donald Trump, and at the moment, the results are still almost the same between the two of them,” he explained. He believes that similar to the Slovenian environment, in the USA, the voters no longer only trust the mainstream media, most of which are more left-wing, but try to compose the truth they can actually trust by themselves, by monitoring the media of the left and right-wing political poles, with the flood of information of social media.
What is also interesting is the media’s attitude towards the First Lady. While some do not write very nicely about her, others want to make a profit by writing about her. “That is why the First Lady distanced herself from Slovenia,” he explained. However, there have also been visible shifts in a positive direction in this matter, at least on POP TV. “On Sunday, for the first time, we were able to watch a beautiful film that presents Melania in such a feminine way,” Ferfila added.