Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
What is important in this case is the media hype generated by Ghedini's PR machine. Berlusconi systematically intimidates prominent reporters and major newspapers with lawsuits for two primary reasons. First, to trumpet his action on stage so as to induce the spectator into believing that Berlusconi is being unjustly persecuted. The format of the news event consists of brisk combative statements by authoritative-looking males and footage of heroic men quickly walking through doors, looking terribly serious. The message transmitted is one of "righting wrongs" by an underdog selflessly devoted to the cause of his just society.

Second, the reporters and writers- David Lane and Alexander Stille, for example- are forced to dedicate time and money to defend themselves to the point of wishing to never have broached the subject (David Lane.)

Berlusconi has lost every single case, most notably against the Financial Times (David Lane) and Stille by an interposed Previti.

When Berlusconi loses the case, the event is simply not covered by the media in Italy.

Members of Berlusconi's entourage have won cases on minor points of little significance, such as Ghedini against Ferruccio de Bortoli for having called him a "two-bit" lawyer (which effectively got him stuck with the apt definition), or Cesare Previti's once-in-a-lifetime win against Marco Travaglio.

By taking on the international press, Berlusconi has taken a dangerous step. While in Italy media coverage will be what we expect, it's unlikely he will get anywhere abroad. Prominent press figures throughout Europe have defined Berlusconi's gambit in no uncertain terms.

La Repubblica has put up their articles and editorials in English concerning the affair this evening.

Director Ezio Mauro's editorial:

This is the first time that, in the memory of a free country, a politician takes a lawsuit because of questions that were asked of him. It is a measure of the difficulties and fears that fill the summer of the most powerful man in Italy. The matter is simple: Because he is incapable of telling the truth about the "political junk" created with his own hands and which has surrounded him for months, the Head of the Government is asking the Bench to block verification of the truth, which brought about those unanswered questions; thus impeding the freedom of investigative journalistic activity.

At this turn there is intolerance for any control, any criticism, any investigative journalistic space that strays from the owner's domain or from the intimidation of a power that is considered absolute and untouchable. Through his judicial act against La Repubblica, Berlusconi wishes to lash out at and prevent the quotations in Italy of the enquiries from foreign newspapers as well, such that the country will remain clouded and under control. Everyone sees the weakness of a power that fears questions and who thinks that it is enough to keep fellow citizens in the dark and get away with it.

An in depth rebuttal by veteran reporter Giuseppe D'Avanzo is well worth reading, especially his concluding graph (difficult to transcribe from the pdf file.)

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:39:46 PM EST

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