Monday night is comedy night on Slovene state television. Monday’s prime-time slot is occupied by Vladimir Vodušek and his programme Vroči Stol (The Hot Seat). The concept of the programe is usually to “grill” the visitor, mostly by Vodušek’s grueling questions where he would at first lay out his hypothesis, find little or no arguments for it, talk to himself about the lack of arguments and finally ask the guest wether he knows anything more on the matter than Vodušek does (which is not very much to start with). He would also employ a “devil’s advocate”, someone who would be willing to grill the unfortunate guest a bit more. The amount of grilling seems to be highly dependant on how close the guest is to the current government (the closer he/she is, the cooler the grill becomes), but at the very least Vodušek stuck to his concept. I’m giving him waaaaay too much leeway in terms of journalistic professionalism here, but what the hell… It is a captivating TV moment nevertheless.
Vodušek (right) burning a bonfire under Janša’s chair. NOT! (source)
Unless of course JJ is in the building, as he happened to be yesterday evening. What we witnessed was not even an orchestrated interview but rather a public cocksucking (which went both ways, mind you, but it was mostly Vodušek who was giving head to JJ) which served no other purpose than to have the PM say things noone can refute – because there was noone in the studio to refute them in the first place. Which would not be a problem in its own right, had the interview been conducted by a competent journalist and had the format of the show not been skewed for this one occasion.
Janša was seeking to do some damage control because last week was not kind to him – and I suspect many of the weeks to come will treat him in exactly the same way. So he embarked on the counter offensive, claiming that he had nothing to do with sale of Mercator and that any claims by Zoran Janković (or anyone else) to the contrary are a complete and utter lie, because he as a prime minsiter isn’t authorised to conduct sales of state property.
Well, Janša is correct that he cannot agree on sales of state-owned firms but that doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. Evidence to the contrary is mounting, especially in the form of two high profile admissions (by Boško Šrot and Andrijana Starina Kosem) that Janša indeed gave the final nod to selling a controling share of Mercator to Laško and Istrabenz. He combined that with his new-found hatred for tycoons (Janša-speak for managers who have performed an MBO, securing the loans necesary with shares which they will have bought) and made a connection between them and the near-rampant inflation. Because the Gospel According to Janša now sayeth that the inflation is to be blamed solely on the retailers and managers who took out some 700 million euros in loans.
Call me stupid, but I don’t know how a loan for an MBO adds to inflation, especially due to the fact that € 700 milion is not all that much if you want to buy a sucessful company. For example: Merkur (LJSE, MER), the last MBO performed, at he moment has € 784 million in assets. So if you want to buy a 51-percent share (which is what the management did) you need 350 million at least. Add to that a couple of smaller MBOs and you’re at 700 milion in no time. Only a year before the government was happy to see MBOs performed. It called it “relinquishing state ownership”. But now, after Laško brewery parted ways with Janša, the Gospel sayeth that it is morally and legaly wrong to buy companies with loaned money.
The Gospel says a number of other things as well, which show that JJ is in a bit of a tight spot, because yesterday he wasn’t only skewing the truth on live television (a favourite past time of any full-blooded politician). He was outright lying. He, for example said that Mag magazine (a right-wing magazine now owned by Delo) was a victim of a hostile takeover. Mag was never a victim of a hostile takeover – quite the oposite: Delo was forced to buy the magazine due to political pressure from Janša’s government.
If, however, Janša is reffering to Delo’s management installing a new, anti-government editor-in-chief not approved by magazine’s journalists, one can agree only to the extend where it becomes obivous that it was Janša who created this monster as he allowed Laško brewery to take over Delo in 2005 and install a pro-government CEO and editor-in-chief, regardless of the fact that the paper’s journalists disagreed with both of them. At that time Mag magazine and its journalists stood idly and watched. Now they got a portion of their own medicine. I’m not saying its right, I’m just saying that it was expected.
You want more? As of yesterday, there is no media freedom in Slovenia. The Gospel according to Janša says so! It says that if you read one paper you’ve read them all and that they all print the same anti-government propaganda. He even goes on to add that the fate of free journalism in Slovenia seems to rest in the hands of a low-circulations magazine (Mag) and a lone TV reporter – obviously Vladimir Vodušek (pause to observe the PM sucking journalistic cock. A sight not enjoyed every day). So – on Sunday we had more than just free press – we had press so free that it did not even believe how free it was and that the government had to comission a study to show to the press that it was indeed free. But on Monday the press was free no more. How can that be?
It is rather simple, actually. Things are not going all that well for Janša on the home front and he has to do something. Yet the only manouver he seems capable of at the moment is lashing out at everyone who does not think exactly like he does. And to prove that he is in the right, a call-in poll was being conducted during the show which showed that 83% of callers would vote for the ruling SDS and only 17% for the opposition Social Democrats. Given the fact that it was a call-in poll and that any other public opinon poll puts opposition SD way ahead of SDS, the only relevant result we can derive from this unscientific call-in poll is that 83% of people who called in are SDS supporters.
It is a sad day for the government when it starts believeing its own propaganda.