Opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou was right in his recent criticism of the electronic media and the distortion of political and social developments to which it often resorts. But, to be fair, he was only half right.
Opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou was right in his recent criticism of the electronic media and the distortion of political and social developments to which it often resorts. But, to be fair, he was only half right. Just as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was right when he condemned the role of the media ahead of the general elections that brought his party to power in March 2004. But he, too, was only half right.
A group of progressives, who in 2003 condemned television channel crews for following former king Constantine on a trip to the Peloponnese rather than covering a massive anti-war rally in Athens, were also right. But they, too, were not infallibly correct in their criticism.
The truth is that there is a rather sordid television reality which creates massive scandals out of petty issues and underplays the really important stories. According to this TV reality, what is of real interest is which politician argued with whom rather than real political developments – the stances and proposals of parties and senior politicians. It sets up cockfights while claiming to promote political dialogue.
This media coverage, with all its unrealistic focus and distortions, makes it increasingly difficult for us to maintain any overall understanding of political developments.
There is no grand conspiracy by the media against PASOK, as there was no such conspiracy against New Democracy (ND) when it was in opposition.
If there had been snowfall and flooding this winter, we would not be hearing the opposition party criticizing the quality of TV coverage. Ruling ND would be deploring the system set up by the previous PASOK government.
We should not misinterpret the situation. We do not live in an angelic world which the big, bad media negatively distorts in its coverage. Corruption and vested interests exist on many levels, ranging from media ownership to news reporting. But this is the natural consequence of an excessively large state.
When one party controls half of the country’s economic activity, even with the best of intentions, its particular bias will inevitably influence their channel’s coverage. Given that the state is never well-intentioned, the distortion is significant.
So we can safely say that interests are being served by the media. But the media also condemns this practice. And so one cannot speak of a conspiracy theory as such.
But there is a general problem with the dissemination of information in this country. Sometimes this hurts PASOK, at other times ND, but the real victims are public opinion, journalism, politics and democracy, irrespective of who is in government and who in opposition.
KATHIMERINI English Edition, 10/03/2007