Prime Minister Janez Janša’s letter on the war with the media provoked heated reactions from the public. President of the left-wing Slovene Association of Journalists, Petra Lesjak Tušek, even spoke about incitement against journalists, undermining the credibility of the media and the humiliating tone in Janša’s letter. We asked the experts – Matevž Tomšič, Edvard Kadič, and Stane Granda to comment on the matter. They noted that the content of Janša’s letter is unfortunately true and pointed out the bias of the Slovenian media and the absence of pluralism in our media space.
This week, Prime Minister Janez Janša published a lengthy letter on the government’s website, in which he wrote about the war with the media, describing it as a fable of us as boiled frogs, cooked in lukewarm water, and of death threats. In it, he tells a lesson from history, which shows us that the fear of the media is stronger than their actual power, and he is critical of the monopoly power of individual media outlets and non-pluralism in the Slovenian media space. The letter, which provoked heated reactions, can also be read in its entirety on our website: Janez Janša on the “war with the media”: a fable about us, the frogs that were slowly cooked in lukewarm water; and death threats.
The statements from Janša’s letter, just as the ones from the “official dispatch,” are unfortunately true
We asked the experts to comment on Janša’s letter and the entire situation surrounding it. “At first glance, such an appearance – the publishing of a column and commenting on the situation in our society as the Prime Minister, is quite unusual. For many, it might even seem completely inappropriate,” media and political analyst Matevž Tomšič initially told Nova24TV, but then warned: “However, the situation in Slovenia, especially as far as the media space is concerned, is by no means normal. Thus, when talking about Janša’s letter, similar to when we talked about the infamous ‘dispatch’ which was sent to the Council of Europe, we can say that, unfortunately, many of the findings it contains are true.”
According to Tomšič, the main problem is the “distinct non-plurality of the media space, where most of the media outlets are openly in favour of the left-wing political option, or, if we turn things around, more negative towards all those who oppose this political option.” According to him, this is most evident in relation to the current government, which, despite successfully coping with the coronavirus epidemic, continues to constantly be attacked by the media, while the dominant media had mostly looked the other way when it came to the left-wing governments.
The content is appropriate, the choice of where to publish the letter is excellent, as the general public was, therefore, “forced” to read it
We also asked Edvard Kadič, an analyst and body language expert, for his opinion. He believes that the content of Janša’s letter is appropriate. The choice of where to publish the letter does not seem ordinary, especially not for a text like this one, but tactically, he believes the choice was excellent: “Janša basically ‘forced’ the part of the public which would otherwise intentionally or unintentionally overlook the text, if it would have been published on, for example, the SDS party’s website, to read it and consider its content.”
It seems as if Šarec is also Janša’s hostage, as part of the warring media under the control of Forum 21
Only the “blue” media or the newspapers controlled by Forum 21 and the “younger” part of the television outlets – in short, those who work for the interest of the capital – are at war with Janša, according to the historian and initiator of the movement Glasno (loud), Stane Granda: “The choice of whether to accept the war or not does not exist. We should base the media space on the right to public speech, freedom of speech, the power of facts – in short: the frog must finally be cooked; otherwise it will cook us all. Democracy must be an ally and a force!”
According to Granda, Marjan Šarec’s behaviour shows a literal obsession with Janša: “He is his hostage, as part of the warring media, who otherwise don’t seem to see or hear anything. Let’s just remember the attitude he has towards the pride of Tito’s Yugoslavia, Gorenje, where he systematically brought foreign politicians. These are irrational activities of an opponent of Slovenian independence and democracy, who is capable of everything.” This probably also applies to his “spiritual father,” known for his political cruelty, hitherto unsurpassed in Slovenian history. “Let’s just remember how he used the talk about reconciliation to get rid of his old ‘comrades,’” Granda said, adding that the coronavirus prevented him from repeating this scam once more.
Media protagonists in Slovenia are not capable of any self-reflection
As mentioned earlier, Janša’s letter provoked some heated reactions from certain media outlets – the president of the leftists Slovene Association of Journalist, Petra Lesjak Tušek, even told Radio Slovenija that this was a matter of incitement against journalists and that there was undermining of the credibility of the media and a humiliating tone in Janša’s writing.
“It is amazing how little self-reflection the Slovenian media protagonists are capable of,” Tomšič said, adding that there was a belief among their ranks that they should be exempt from any kind of criticism: “On the one hand, they exalt themselves by saying how important of a mission they are carrying out, and on the other hand, they pity themselves, saying that they are constantly being attacked by the ‘ugly’ – right-wing, of course – politics.” The reality, he said, is actually quite different.
“Given that Janša addressed the position of power that the media took for themselves, in his letter, and also indicated a way to destroy this position, such reactions seem normal to me,” said Kadič, who believes that the reactions of the president of the Slovene Association of Journalists are not the most appropriate. The use of such powerful words in her responses, unfortunately, gives the attacks even more weight, making it seem as if this is a matter of life and death. In addition, according to Kadič, it weakens the credibility of the attacker, since the president of the Association does not provide any sensible arguments, but only politicizes, going on about the attacks, and consequently even opens the area for a kind of self-censorship of journalists, who in the future, for fear of acting biased, precisely because of the weight of the whole matter in their own journalistic ranks, will prefer to give up their sharpness in their articles.
According to the experts, the media in Slovenia, which did not let the government work in peace for even 100 days, are extremely biased
In general, when looking at the way the Slovenian media report on certain matters, Tomišč has noticed that instead of impartiality and truthfulness, ideological radicalism, political activism, and incitement are growing in the Slovenian media space.
“In general, I expected a bit more leniency, at least in the first 100 days of the ruling,” said Kadič, who was particularly surprised by RTV Slovenija, which allowed itself to slip into a rather public conflict with the new government. “When ministerial visits in their shows seem more like gladiator games and on the next day, as a response to the shows, you cannot find out anything about the content, but only assessments on ‘who beat whom,’ it is hard to talk about impartiality,” he explained. However, given the large number of quality professionals on RTV, he believes that situations like this will soon be a thing of the past, and with that, the need for warnings, such as Janša’s letter on the “war with the media.”
“Basically, this is not a war with the media; this is the final phase of Slovenian independence and democratization. Unfortunately, it is happening in the shadow of a pandemic, which can be an important helping factor or the ‘fifth column,’” Granda added.