Off The Record. On The QT. And Very Hush Hush.

If you don’t get the following, don’t bother. It’s not worth your time.

20100210_dannydevito.jpg
Danny de Vito as Sid Hudgens, master of sin-uendo in L.A. Confidential

Pengovsky was freezing his ass off at the scene of the attack for several hours. At the end did I not only not feel my toes, but was also missing my fingers, nose, ears, lover lip and arse-cheeks. And I was three hours late for the macabre party. Some people were there even longer than me. But the point I’m trying to make that for hours after the attack there was nothing but the eerie feeling of something very bad and intensive happening. The four crews that were there (altogether some seven people, yours truly included) were acting like vultures in a very real sense, as we were hovering at the outskirts of the “do not cross” police tape, waiting for the dead body and carcasses to be transported out. It was us, the vets, cops and people from the morgue. And no one else. Not to sound dramatic, but I imagine that minutes immediately after the apocalypse will feel like that. You know that something bad happened, but you’ve no idea what exactly and just how bad it was.

But if until then passers-by and neighbours were giving the scene a wide berth, they started lurking around late in the evening. Ever threw a ball at a bunch of cats? You know how they instinctively run and hide and come looking what actually happened only after a while? Well, it’s the same with people. After “the coast was clear” so to speak, neighbours started hovering. One of them, a kid, told the TV stations that he filmed the whole attack on the mobile phone and if they’d buy it. No dice. He can share it, but they’re not paying for it. But it’s really awesome. OK, can we have a look at it. Sure, he’ll just go get it. After a while he does appear with a home-made CD, but already he’s saying that the quality is really bad and that he didn’t film the actual attack, but everything after it. OK, so you got the shots, right? Well, no, I only realized something was wrong after shots were fired. Ah. But OK, we’ll take it anyway.

While this was going on another neighbour appeared. No, he will not say anything for the camera. Yes, he knew the deceased. He told him something like this was going to happen. Yes, he’s the one who witnessed the attack four years ago and called the cops. And then another neighbour starts hovering. No, he will not say anything for the camera. Yes, he knew the deceased. He told him something like this was going to happen. Yes, he’s the one who witnessed the attack four years ago and called the cops. And then another neighbour appeared… You can see the pattern, no?

But this was only the tip of the iceberg. The sleazy part of Slovene media (the one which holds The Sun as their role model. You know, we just report what the world really looks like) runs a bomb-shell story about a strap-on, a condom and a pack of abused bull mastiffs which it combined with stories of sex change, political high rollers and perversion (sic!) of justice. Sex, lies, perverts and politicians. It was simply too good not to be true. That “facts” came from “unofficial” sources who spoke on “condition of anonymity” and “off the record”, that certain things were “general knowledge” and that other things were “obvious”, that the truth will “naturally” be suppressed, that pressure is being brought to bear as the story is being written and that your reporter will not be deterred at reporting things that are “hush hush”.

And if the national media first concentrated on the role of politicians (specifically, minister of agriculture), at least one television soon picked up the sleazy n’ sizzlin’ story and – not surprisingly – quoted the same unverifiable sources as the original story. And our sleazy Slovenian on-line version of the Sun takes this as the ultimate recognition, saying that the story was now confirmed by the said television which proves that our fearless rumour-monger-come-reporter was right all along. The circle is complete and unsubstantiated rumours start feeding each other. Forums start filling with hate-speech, links to any version of the story start filling mailboxes, witnesses start appearing, and their testimonies are becoming more and more alike, even further “confirming” the original story from “unofficial sources” and the number of people who know somebody who knew the deceased starts multiplying and suddenly…. Everybody. Just. Knows. Inconsistencies in the story don’t bother anyone.

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pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

18 thoughts on “Off The Record. On The QT. And Very Hush Hush.”

  1. Oh don’t be naive. Everyone knows that it’s all true. The autopsy will show all the facts. And if the autopsy results comes back clean and no signs of sexual abuse of the dogs is proven, we the public will know the real truth anyway. Just another cover-up by the perverted elite. The man, woman or whatever that justly-punished creature was, has already been found guilty by the almighty People. Facts, evidence, presumed innocence? Principles only apply to principled, upstanding citizens! Like us!

  2. @kejt: Made it as far as page 23 out of 73. Can’t do the rest. Sorry 😀

    @Adriaan: Again, a marvelous find. And yes, this is precisely what I’m talking about. Thank you!

    @Arf: Well, the bite was quite deadly in this case. But the venom in the bark is equally desctructive.

  3. Slovenia may be on the sunny side of the alps but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

    Heather explains it very well, actually:

    http://www.yrtk.org/2010/when-brooke-met-brooker/

    “There are instances were anonymity of sources is necessary and indeed ethical but the circumstances should be confined to those instances where the source would be be harmed in some way if their identity was made known(such as a whistleblower or insider who would face retribution). The over-riding concern must be what is in the public interest. If a story about serious corruption or wrongdoing can only be told using a source who refuses to be named then there may be justification for granting anonymity. But any journalist must think long and hard about it.”

    So, you see.
    Who in their right mind will give you his name in a story like this to be printed next to his statement. Only an idiot. Nothing to do with confidence, only with sanity.

    The selection process thus is in the readers mind, because pozareport.si could be making stuff up or indeed be on the brink of the rabbit hole. You decide.

    P.S.: Hell, please! :))

  4. If I may direct you off tangentially, Ms. Brooke has performed a remarkable thing for UK democracy since it was principally her digging and use of the recently introduced Freedom of Information act that revealed the corrupt practices and “troughing” of UK members of parliament.

    As you may know this has (understandably) dominated the political agenda here. And all because an U.S. expat questioned why the UK public didn’t share the same rights to know information that were enshrined in law in her homeland.

    Lady, I salute (and thank) you!

  5. @Pero:

    What you call a naive view of the world is the only proper way to do journalism. What we are faced here is not a massive cover-up which would require whistle blowing but conjecture and speculation based on sources which may or may not be true. Even wore: we are faced with stories which are based on stories which are based on unchecked information.

    In this case (and I suspect in many others) the journalist in question did not think long and hard about the anonymity of his source (if there ever was one) but just wrote the piece. Like the journalist in question (and, I suspect, half of Slovenia) you are mixing up cause and effect:

    because the information is off the record, there must be a cover up. Has it ever occured to you that no one will have their name printed next to such statement, because it is not true, or, at the very least, exaggerated?

    And to advocate the “let-the-readers-decide” approach is extremely hypocritical of you because the reader is only exposed to as much information as the media will select for publishing. And giving incomplete or even inaccurate information makes any sort of relevant decision on the part of the reader impossible, no? That is why publishing unverifiable information is bad sport.

    And another thing. Publishing off-the-record info is not the same as publishing unverified information. You can get info off-the-record and then go and try to verify it against a second source. Journalism 101. None of this was done in this case.

    This was not journalism. It was voyeurism. And the same goes for most of the debate that is raging on Slovene forums at the moment.

  6. “What you call a naive view of the world is the only proper way to do journalism. What we are faced here is not a massive cover-up which would require whistle blowing but conjecture and speculation based on sources which may or may not be true. Even worse: we are faced with stories which are based on stories which are based on unchecked information.
    In this case (and I suspect in many others) the journalist in question did not think long and hard about the anonymity of his source (if there ever was one) but just wrote the piece. Like the journalist in question (and, I suspect, half of Slovenia) you are mixing up cause and effect:”

    And you know this how? The “it’s not a massive cover up” bit? I mean, I know Požžzar is Pozar but to disregard his 3 articles just because it comes from him? That’s the exact same thing you are against in your article. Prejudice and blind (dis)belief. Unless you know something we don’t, of course.

    “And to advocate the “let-the-readers-decide” approach is extremely hypocritical of you because the reader is only exposed to as much information as the media will select for publishing. And giving incomplete or even inaccurate information makes any sort of relevant decision on the part of the reader impossible, no? That is why publishing unverifiable information is bad sport.”

    You’re right, it’s bad sport. That’s why the “established” Slovene media put all the blame on the bad, bad dogs at first and the respected doctor (oh my a respected doctor,can you imagine?) was the poor victim.
    What the media was publishing was incomplete and inaccurate information to steer the public away from the fact that there was something more sinister going on. Again, the same thing you are accusing Pozar of.

    “Inconsistencies in the story don’t bother anyone.”

    Which would be? I’m sure you will point them out and sink Pozar’s story and set the record straight. After all it’s in the “public interest”, isn’t it?

    “This was not journalism. It was voyeurism.”

    Might be, but without it? Where would this end? You’re right, under the carpet …

  7. Peng, it might be worth the effort. Posts by Jana or Smetka seem most relevant, and are opening important questions. They KNOW the business.
    Na primer. Izročitev odločbe o vračilu psov je bila, kot vse kaže, kršitev ZUP-a: http://www.mojpes.net/forum/index.php/topic,34929.1260.html
    Za vse nas tu in zdaj se mi zdijo te reči dosti bolj pomembne od tega, kaj je pokojni bil ali ni bil. Ful je enega šita v vsem tem. Tole je tudi vse, s čimer se bom tule oglasila, v izogib smetenju. Hvala za pozornost.

  8. @Pero:

    The point is that no one know shit. And yet you are inclined to believe the most incredible story, involving just about every other public figure there is, a story coming from a journalist that is known for fabricating facts and has even been convicted for it.

    Words “facts” and “public interest” are being applied liberally, mostly by people who don’t have as much as tangential connection to the case.

    The only thing that is of public interest here is whether there was pressure brought to bear to release the dogs into victim’s custody and if so, who was the one exerting pressure.

    As for facts are concerned – there’s precious little of that going around these days. Only rumours.

    As for inconsistencies, let me give you a hint, maybe you can work it out for yourself: does a pack of violent bull mastiffs really sound a likely environment for sodomy?

    @Kejt: as for bending the law on returning the dogs to the victim is concerned, this should be proven easily enough, no? And yes, I agree heads must roll if law was broken, but this has absolutely nothing to do with “unofficial sources” and “off the record information”. If there is paper trail of unlawful activities, let it be examined and acted upon. But making shit up and quoting unverifiable sources? That’s just wrong.

  9. “As for inconsistencies, let me give you a hint, maybe you can work it out for yourself: does a pack of violent bull mastiffs really sound a likely environment for sodomy?”

    That’s your inconsistency? lol …

    You are aware though that he, and his sister for that matter, had access to every frickin’ drug he could imagine.

    “The only thing that is of public interest here is whether there was pressure brought to bear to release the dogs into victim’s custody and if so, who was the one exerting pressure.”

    Really? Other potential issues are not to be touched?
    Great, blinders for everybody!

    Are you?
    http://www.vest.si/2010/02/11/novinar-si-zasluzis-placo/

  10. What other potential issues? There are none if you are willing to admit that you (me, everyone who has lots to say on this) do not really know what happened. But if you start by presuming that there was foul play involved, then you are willing to go miles on end in proving that you are correct…

    …even by extending the conspiracy theory on members of the victim’s immediate family (which I personally find particularly disgusting, by the way). By that same token everyone who has access to dogs is a part of the cover-up.

    As for the link you posted (about how people should examine their consciousness): this kind of moralising is completely unfounded before all the facts are known. But if you must know, for my part I can proudly say that I do earn my keep and that my answer to questions directed at journalists is “No” on all three counts.

    But while we’re on the subject: do you earn your keep? What have you done to clear this mess up, be it as a concerned citizen or in any other capacity you may have regarding this case?

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