In the days we are living, it isn’t enough for a leader to be leftist to be awarded fair treatment by the media.
You have to be from the ‘globalist-liberal left’ – or else you’re painted as bad as conservatives are depicted.
Take the case of Slovakian leftwing populist Robert Fico. The new Prime Minister had barely been in office for a few weeks and he already has a very bad news cycle going against him.
Slovakian journalists and international watchdogs have now ‘expressed alarm’ after Fico described leading media outlets as ‘hostile’ and threatened to restrict their access.
Fico returned to power as Slovakia’s leader in October, in a coalition government led by his populist Smer party.
This week he made it known that some of the Slovakia’s biggest outlets were not welcome in his office.
The Guardian reported:
“’I announced actions against enemy’s media – TV Markíza, Denník N, SME and the portal Aktuality’, he said, claiming that they ‘openly declare hatred and hostility against Smer and spread these trends with joy’.
‘I decided that we will check their permission to enter and work in the government office’, the prime minister said, adding that ‘until the decision is made, they will be unwelcome guests at the government office’.”
Fico has had two premierships: 2006-2010 and 2012-2018.
He resigned after the murder of Ján Kuciak, an investigative reporter at Aktuality, and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová.
The killings sparked a political crisis and put a spotlight on press freedom in the region.
Now, his comments have sparked concerns in Bratislava and abroad that Slovakia’s press freedoms are under attack
“’Fico is waging a personal war with journalists and abusing the state for it’, said Peter Bárdy, the editor-in-chief of Aktuality. While noting that it was still unclear whether Fico would actually ban media outlets from attending press conferences, Bárdy said on Wednesday: ‘If this happens, it will not allow us to confront them with the practical aspects of the politics they are doing’.
He added: ‘But what’s worse is that this is how they continue their disinformation campaign against select media, feeding the public the idea that they can’t trust us because we’re lying and hostile’.”
Beata Balogová, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper SME:
If the European Union is serious about defending its own values, it should be more than concerned about the state of press freedom in Slovakia.
— Beata Balogova (@BalogovaBeata) November 13, 2023
“The country’s progressive president, Zuzana Čaputová, defended press freedom. ‘The media is part of the bloodstream of democracy’, she wrote on social media. ‘I refuse and cannot support the division of parts of society into more or less noble, friendly or hostile’.”