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April 13, 2009 2:40 AM   Subscribe

The Guardian has taken the unusual step of publishing the same article in English & in Italian because the Italian media will not tell the truth about Berlusconi. The tainted clown that heads Italy has accused newspapers and television stations of slandering him and damaging the country’s reputation by highlighting his alleged faux pas.
Silvio's Shadow an interesting article from the Colombia Journal of Review cached archives shows how Berlusconi uses Journalism as a political weapon.

Much of Italian Media is controlled by Berlusconi. The World Press Freedom Review expressed concern five years ago.
Oh and Berlusconi Plans to Use G8 Presidency to "Regulate the Internet".
posted by adamvasco (48 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was the "tainted clown" bit necessary?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:43 AM on April 13, 2009


I saw Dylan Moran live the other week. One of my fave jokes from his performance was how he said it was funny that Italy had over 90 political parties and they "still managed to elect Berlusconi, a man so crooked he sleeps on a spiral staircase, and gives angels gonorrhea everytime he smiles."
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:46 AM on April 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


The "tainted clown" bit was so necessary. I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's Italian for "fascist piece of shit", but I'm a bit rusty.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 3:01 AM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Having finished reading Gomorrah recently, and watched this tool try desperately hard to set a new record for diplomatic cock ups I really have to wonder what the fuck is happening in Italy as a whole. It just seems to be the craziest, most corrupt nation in Europe. I'd love to hear from matteo or our other esteemed Italian MeFites on the situation in more detail.
posted by longbaugh at 3:06 AM on April 13, 2009


Jeez, speaking as someone who is happy to think of themselves as 'European'; having Berlusconi take charge of the EU next year and watching while the present incumbent Klaus (who used the platform to agitate against the 'cult' of climate change, against the EU itself, and to position him to form a new reactionary political as his current one have no truck with him) embarass us is annoying.

For the Eurosceptics a Berlusconi presidency is the best thing that can happen- every other country will be thinking, hmm we don't want to have to run our affairs like these guys.
posted by Gratishades at 3:24 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's spelled "tainted assclown."

I can't wait for him to make "internet regulation" his pet issue. No politician will ever raise the issue again for fear of committing political suicide by association.
posted by Optamystic at 3:32 AM on April 13, 2009


The "tainted clown" bit was so necessary.

No. Berlusconi is enough of a failure on his own.

"They have everything they need, they have medical care, hot food... Of course, their current lodgings are a bit temporary. But they should see it like a weekend of camping". "Head to the beach. It’s Easter. Take a break. We’re paying for it, you’ll be well looked after."

And I'm sorry, but I can't bring myself to link directly to some of the more graphic pictures.
posted by ersatz at 3:32 AM on April 13, 2009


Guardianlol
posted by fire&wings at 3:35 AM on April 13, 2009


he's a class act


video of him *surprising* a meter maid on the way to his car
posted by askmehow at 3:39 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


He is a 'tainted clown,' yet these faux pas are 'alleged?' Don't get all dainty on us after such a strong opening, adam.

Also, it's Columbia Journalism Review, not "Colombia Journal of Review."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:39 AM on April 13, 2009


and that's a fake so nevermind
posted by askmehow at 3:40 AM on April 13, 2009


askmehow, that's amazing. He's like Andrew Dice Clay. Except he's the head of state.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:43 AM on April 13, 2009


You guys are going to make me use preview, aren't you?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 AM on April 13, 2009


Actually, it's much more complicated than that, and I could elaborate on it for days.
Or, it is this simple, but - when seen from the inside - it's impossible to look at it like that.
A dilemma of Schrödingerian proportions, anyway.
posted by _dario at 4:05 AM on April 13, 2009


Tainted clown is rather polite. And I have to admit that I don't think "fascist piece of shit" is completely accurate. Fascists at least have some form of ideals, albeit ones with which I completely disagree.

Berlusca's modus operandi is more along the lines of "sell the entire country down the river for his own personal benefit." Come to think of it, that's the modus operandi of many Italian politicians...

About reelecting Berlusca, I'll just paraphrase from a previous comment:

When I've been asked "Why did Italy reelect Berlusconi again?" the short hand answer I give is that the outgoing Left government was perceived to have "screwed up", the "new" leader they presented for the elections wasn't any better than the last guys, and so the alternative was Berlusconi, the only Prime Minister in 50 years to last the full term.
...
There is no Italian Obama on the political horizon, no one that people can look at and say "he's not too bad, for a politician." There's seems to be no hope that things will be getting better in the near future, that someone will come along and blow this caste out of the water.


Berlusca's probably thanking his evil Satanic overlords for the earthquake in Abruzzo. The heat of a severe economic crisis is put on the back burner and he can prance around in front of the cameras buying new dentures for an elderly woman (sending a BMW so she could go and thank him) and offering his houses to quake refugees.

Meanwhile word from my friends' family (now safely in Rome) is that the town of Campotosto, directly below a dam and on a fault line, organized themselves in tents for four days sans rescue crews, and went to the media to say "Hey, remember that dam above us? You might want to check it out." The army showed up the next day.

Everyone's pretty cynical about the reconstruction to come, as the mass amounts of money pretty much guarantees that there'll be a mangia mangia profiteering of epic proportions. Ditto about punishment for construction companies who didn't follow the seismic codes like Impeglio, the company that built the 15 year old hospital that's now 90% unusable.

Lord knows what other bullshit they'll manage to pull while everyone's attention is on the total destruction in Abruzzo.
posted by romakimmy at 4:24 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perry Anderson wrote two fascinating articles on modern Italy's political quagmire for the LRB:

An Entire Order Converted into What It Was Intended to End

An Invertebrate Left

... However, in painting a picture of the general failure and corruption of Italy's political class as a whole, he lets Berlusconi off the hook a bit.
posted by WPW at 4:28 AM on April 13, 2009


Tainted clown, oh-woah-oh, tainted clown.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:06 AM on April 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


He can't be fascist, as the Italian trains don't run on time.
posted by Goofyy at 5:57 AM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


In his recent provocative piece (suggesting a possible strategy to counter Italy's across-the-board capitulation in the face of berlusconismo despite decades of publicly financed Culture), writer Alessandro Baricco had this take on sua Emittenza and his citizens audience:

"There's a general belief afoot that this man, with three TV channels of his own, plus a further three indirectly/temporarily controlled ones, has managed to erode this country's moral fibre and cultural standing at its very foundations: resulting, as though by direct consequence, in a general, collective unpreparedness to play by the stringent rules of democracy. [...] I'm not amongst those who share the belief (to me, Berlusconi seems more a consequence than a cause), but I know it's widely held, so let's take it at face value. So we can then ask ourselves: how come that majestic cultural dam that we thought we were erecting with taxpayers' money, gave way so so easily?"

[My impromptu translation.] His suggestion was to cut all public funds for theatre, music, festivals and museums, leaving all of these to private sector initiative, and reserve all spending for 1. schools and 2. (reclaimed) public TV.
posted by progosk at 6:04 AM on April 13, 2009


What weirds the fuck out of me is some of the comments on there - 'oh, you're all high and mighty in your big United Kingdom and you're an opposition politician, you don't have a right to comment on this' - they're all excuses, really.
posted by kldickson at 6:06 AM on April 13, 2009


Keith Gerson - It would be so much better if it weren't fake. I think it captures the essence of the man, if not the man's actions.
posted by askmehow at 6:08 AM on April 13, 2009


Beginning in 2001 he was elected (most years) as the head of his country, he embarrasses his country when he speaks in public, he is backed up by a right-wing media organization...
As an American, I can't imagine what it would be like to have someone like him as president.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:09 AM on April 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


Couple of so's too many... scusate.
Oh and, kimmy: 1. how come Fininvest's not on that power map, do you think? 2. it's Impregilo - though the truth of the matter at hand appears, as usual, to be a little more... intricate.

posted by progosk at 6:15 AM on April 13, 2009


I find the Berlusconi debacle - that is what his two-and-a-half-decade rape of the body of leadership has been, a debacle - very, very sad, not least because it used to seem to me that Italians in general were dismissive of politics because they understood its caprices and its sillinesses; they dealt with it as little as they could to have a good nation and a good world, and this let them spend more time enjoying other things. But lately I begin to get the feeling that Italians are becoming more jaded and cynical than ever before; this is the only reason I can imagine why, even given few other options, people still picked this man.
posted by koeselitz at 6:26 AM on April 13, 2009


The Guardian has taken the unusual step of publishing the same article in English & in Italian because the Italian media will not tell the truth about Berlusconi.

Now can they run simultaneous articles in English and American and about Dick Cheney?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:29 AM on April 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


One doesn't have to live in Italy in order to understand Berlusconi better, but living in Italy surely helps understanding why many italians seem to be mesmerized by him.

Consider that many italians have a disfunctional relationship with the State, as it is often considered as an obstacle to be avoided rather then a pillar of a democratic society. Over the years many italians have accepted the idea that the State is just a place in which powerful people, usually belonging to some party, decide how to distribute taxpayer money to their friends and clients and that, therefore, it is best to be in touch with somebody, have some "connection" with some representative that will eventually pay back some favours by skipping or easying some of the burocratic process. Scratch my back, I will scratch yours eventually, if you behave. Many italians also feel utterly abandoned by the judiciary, as the rule of law doesn't seem to apply but to people with the financial strenght needed to fight for years in court, hoping that the court is not corrupted. Every now and then they unconciously choose to believe the propaganda of some party, hoping that somebody will bring them change. They suspend disbelief for a while, for believing in hope is better then feeling powerless and desperate.

Then you have a group of italians that understand the distortions of this political party run system and of course disapprove of this highly inefficient way of conducting business, but also have decided that the masses are hopeless and that are to be blamed for being so utterly ignorant and spineless. So they either join in the exploitation by entering the system, or become enterpreneurs protected by the system, by lobbying their own representative in the government, sometimes very efficiently as one of the last laws regarding building construction was about to ease some aspect of anti sesismic requirements.

Now after Mani Pulite One or "The collapse of the First Republic" over a nationwide political corruption scandal, Berlusconi probably needed to enter politics to save himself from potential problems (you need to have political weight to fight in politics) and probably also saw an opportunity to obtain more power, which is always useful. As a mass media mogoul, I have little doubt that Berlusconi's experts had a very good description of how italians felt about politics, what are their desires and most frequent behavioral models. Berlusconi's Mediaset also influenced italian culture by importing or creating TV formats who glued italians over they TV set for years, but not necessairly, as many believe, by extolling the virtues of the Great Dear Leader Berlusconi. This aspect of propaganda was strictly confined to Rete 4 and his Rush Limbaugh-esque director Emilio Fede, sometimes borderlining embarassing adoration. Possibly more important is the way news are presented over Mediaset, in news programs that are quite popular in their content and often quite insignificant, with news such as the latest gossip or some the incessant declaration of politicans. Debate programs often degenerated in shouting matches, which helped form an idea of politics as a vocal wrestling show in which the winner is the one who uses fallacious logic and shouts the most.

Berlusconi was entirely succesful at winning the minds and consesus of many italians, but now have a lot of things to manage. He has to _deliver_ facts, while getting rid of the extreme right after getting rid of the extreme left by incessantly hammering that "communists" are the BIG trouble of italy, basically leading the left to get rid of the old Rifondazione Comunista party. After rendering the left parties opposition basically powerless, he probably expected them to fight more and better, but the left keeps on imploding, whereas the local concernes are now better represented by the Lega Party, home of Mario Borghezio ideologist, recently exposed while suggesting a french extreme right party to keep their "fascism" toned down and present themseleves as party who cared for _local_ problems, much like the Lega party.

All of this in the silence of mass media, who apparently prefer to spout bullshit about local Brangelinas and other insignificant bullshit such as who offended who and which politician says that he was offended by one of the few daresay tv shows such as Anno Zero and Report on Rai TV.
posted by elpapacito at 6:43 AM on April 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


I got a little bit carried away and forgot to talk about Berlusconi's jokes and gaffes. Their frequency seems to suggest that Berlusconi is, to an extent, just being himself or reiterating the lines that his public in Italy seems to appreciate. Some italians seems to adore his "faccia tosta" and perceive him as an adorable scoundrel, who was able to game the system and become a "winner in life". Some are now in awe of what they believe to his greater skill, that of being able to disguise himself as a friend of the people, while really being a self obsessed cynic. They admire his ability to keep people seated while he gently "fucks them" the way he pleases by administering vocal vaseline.

Other just believe that Berlusconi jokes are harmless and playful, that he is a liberated man who is criticized for being successful. Obviously, he took the extra pain of constantly reiterating that the left is obsessed by him and his jokes, those unhappy gray communists bourocrats.
posted by elpapacito at 6:56 AM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Then you have a group of italians that understand the distortions of this political party run system and of course disapprove of this highly inefficient way of conducting business, but also have decided that the masses are hopeless and that are to be blamed for being so utterly ignorant and spineless. So they either join in the exploitation by entering the system, or become enterpreneurs protected by the system, by lobbying their own representative in the government, sometimes very efficiently as one of the last laws regarding building construction was about to ease some aspect of anti sesismic requirements."

That mirrors what has been going on here with the Republican party and American corporations. One of the key platforms of the Conservative Movement is the idea that the masses are hopeless and just there to be manipulated by the government and corporations, for "their own good".

There's a strain of that in the thinking of the left, as well - this idea that Americans are hopelessly stupid. I find that a contradiction with basic liberal thought which has always stood for the masses' right to self-determination which presupposes the masses' ability to make those determinations. I've had maybe 500 arguments with fellow-liberals over this.
posted by Tena at 6:56 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dunno, progosk, since some of the component parts like Mondadori & Mediolanum are present. The site's beta...b'oh.

Vis-a-vis Impreglio, we'll see what happens. I'm wondering if the Messina bridge project they've been handed will continue post-Abruzzo. It's always been (to my mind) an extraordinary waste of funds; just how much support will they now have for building an expensive strait-straddling bridge in yet another earthquake prone zone with Impreglio at the helm?

posted by romakimmy at 7:18 AM on April 13, 2009


he's a class act

Holy crap.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:19 AM on April 13, 2009


Civil Disobedient - i posted the same link, with the same text! only to find its a fake. but thanks for reading the thread (and wonkette)!
posted by askmehow at 7:30 AM on April 13, 2009


Let's reiterate:
askmehow's class act link is a clip from a film, as previously featured & discussed on Metafilter.

The man makes enough gaffes on his own; there's no need to attribute fake ones to him as well.
posted by romakimmy at 7:30 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The very last gaffe is just a few hours old, for the delight of his celebrity status fans.

While visiting a tent camp in Monticchio, Berlusconi notices an young female doctor with long red hair and he comes up with "I would love to be reanimated by you". One of her female colleagues allegedly replied "Tomorrow you'll become primario" (primario being a powerful manager in the hospital system).

Question such as "what do you need?" or "is everything ok?" or "what do you think" , the article reporting the gaffe doesn't mention if any of these questions were asked or not. This piece of "news" was relayed by il Messaggero, not know for being a gossip paper. Or maybe it has become one and nobody noticed?
posted by elpapacito at 7:40 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


My friend was just in Italy. He met a lot of good folks who were passionately opposed to this shithead.
The world's cartoonists should start running scathing images of him and just embarrass the hell out of him. If the Italian media won't do , then the rest of us should. Remind him he's not in control.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:17 AM on April 13, 2009


Avanti o popolo, alla riscossa,
Bandiera rossa trionferà!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:20 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


elpapacito: While visiting a tent camp in Monticchio, Berlusconi notices an young female doctor with long red hair and he comes up with "I would love to be reanimated by you".

Che puzzo d'imbroglio.
posted by koeselitz at 11:15 AM on April 13, 2009


Wish I'd said this earlier...

Pope Guilty: Was the "tainted clown" bit necessary?

Ah, look what we have here, a Pope defending Berlusconi... how novel!

Just kidding, PG; couldn't resist...
posted by koeselitz at 11:23 AM on April 13, 2009


and that's a fake so nevermind

This one is real.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:09 PM on April 13, 2009


Berlusconi's Mediaset also influenced italian culture by importing or creating TV formats who glued italians over they TV set for years, but not necessairly, as many believe, by extolling the virtues of the Great Dear Leader Berlusconi.

This book says that the policy is for any negative news to be presented in sandwich form. First, the leading clip presents some positive initiative announced by the government, second is the bad news presented by some interested party as a reaction to the government initiative, third is a definitive rebuttal of the fringe opposing view.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:21 PM on April 13, 2009


He's fucking it up. Strict state control of the media, forcing everyone to parrot exactly the same line... that's completely 1939. It's nowhere near as effective as the US/UK model wherein you allow so-called dissenters - you know, the John Stewarts and Bill Mahers - to run rampant, giving the illusion of a free and unfettered political debate. Meanwhile, basic questions such as "Is the U.S. really trying to spread democracy in the middle east as it claims or is it actually trying its best to crush it?" are never asked, let alone answered. And when the government decides to go to war against a couple of defenseless countries in clear violation of international law, the TV and the internet are full of criticism and gnashing of teeth, but none of it affects what's going on in the real world. Indeed, even when the "anti-war candidate" gets elected, the wars continue.

Berlusconi doesn't have that much control over the media (or the government) in his wet dreams.
posted by Clay201 at 12:45 PM on April 13, 2009


Berlosconi: The Italian press, with their stories of my gaffes, harm the reputation of Italy.

Well, he got this part right. You have to make the leader of the country interchangeable with the country as a whole. So if you attack Bush's decision to invade Iraq, you're taking a swing at the entire United States of America. Similarly, Berlosconi's saying that if he looks stupid, all of Italy is receiving a kick to the groin. So he's not completely clueless when it comes to the art of propganda.
posted by Clay201 at 1:00 PM on April 13, 2009


Aren't we all tainted?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:01 PM on April 13, 2009


far from me to defend berlusca from a PR standpoint, but i guess it would be fair to point out that the author of the FA was elected to parliament for the opposing coalition, which has not proved itself much better ..
posted by 3mendo at 3:57 PM on April 13, 2009


The New York Times has done this with articles in English/Chinese too, a series on environmental problems if I remember correctly.
posted by msittig at 3:58 PM on April 13, 2009


and that's a fake so nevermind

>This one is real.


Holy fuck
posted by KokuRyu at 11:34 PM on April 13, 2009


>>>and that's a fake so nevermind

>>This one is real.

>Holy fuck

clearly not.
posted by progosk at 12:19 AM on April 14, 2009


Oh and: as outlandish as it may sound abroad, it's considered common knowledge by now that Berlusconi's mid-range ambition is to become the next head of state, and his current political manoeuvring is aimed at ensuring he'll preside over a legislature strongly branded by his imprimatur. Meanwhile it seems his stranglehold on public opinion (if you can still call it such - film director Nanni Moretti, for one, disputes this) is undiminished.
posted by progosk at 1:50 AM on April 14, 2009


Where will his power end? Prime minister's stranglehold on Italy has made him the most popular leader since Mussolini, raising fears over democracy.
posted by adamvasco at 12:31 PM on May 3, 2009


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