venerdì, luglio 23, 2004

A Story of Italy

Reading an article in today's Guardian, I was annoyed by the way in which they were reporting a story they had written about television programming here. The fact that Silvio Berlusconi owns Mediaset, the independent TV broadcaster, together with having effective control of RAI, the state broadcaster, by virtue of his position as Prime Minister of Italy, would give many people pause for thought though.

The article, however, decided to take the situation with regard Umberto Bossi's 'resignation' from the cabinet of Berlusconi's coalition government as a sign of weakness within the government. Now, I am not a fan of Bossi at all, despite my being a REAL Celt myself, neither do I agree with the political objectives that the separatist Lega Nord hold as their cause. However, I object when a situation misrepresents a personal tragedy - or, rather, it completely ignores it - for the sake of journalistic expediency. Bossi suffered a massive heart attack in March of this year, leading to his hospitalisation. He was kept in an induced coma for some considerable time and then suffered from a series of strokes which have left him with, at least, a partial paralysis. Details are very sketchy though, as the Lega Nord have kept the whole situation very quiet, possibly for the sake of the continuity of the political party that Bossi founded and which is seen by many people as being just Bossi himself. Well, Guardian writer, you should have researched a little more before leaping to that conclusion. Bossi is still in a Swiss clinic, where he would seem to be staying for the immediate forseeable future. He is not about to take up any seat anywhere as he is still bedridden. So, the story about a weakening government has no basis when using Bossi as the justification. There are many other reasons that could have been used, of course, not least being the muddy waters of bribery and corruption that follow Berlusconi everywhere he walks.

Next, the Guardian hack leaps into the arena to knock Italy by picking up on the unfortunate fact of the very many 'hostesses' that seem to be endemic on every talk programme here. Yes, you are quite right when you say that the whole Bimbo phenomena here has been encouraged and developed by Mediaset. It is not a wholly Italian issue though, as it has long been known that 'sex sells' - with the scantily clad bimbo's representing the sex part of the equation. In any case, how do you manage to ignore Big Brother in the UK? It is appalling! Would you feel that a criticism of the UK would be proven by citing Big Brother as a clear indicator of the fall in social and moral standards in England? I suspect not - but, on the other hand, perhaps it actually IS?

Yes, I understand that the piece is in the Woman's section, so it can't be serious, can it. Can it? Yes, Lilli Gruber did run for the EU elections last month, trouncing Berlusconi convincingly at the polls. Yes, she is a reporter - a good one at that. But, is it so strange for Italian women to stand for public office? Of course it isn't. Italy has had some very strong women in high public office for many years now. One of the most important Investigating Magistrates that was involved with the infamous 'Clean Hands' operation that purged much of the corruption that had swept through Italy, strangling almost every public office and political party since the Americans abandoned Italy to the vultures at the end of the last European war having re-established the very organisations that were most responsible for the corruption, is a woman, Ilda Boccassini. She cut her teeth with Giovanni Falcone in Sicilia, before moving to Milano, working with Antonio di Pietro on the 'Clean Hands" case. It is she that is one of the principle Magistrates working on the many Berlusconi cases as well, so she is no shrinking violet at all. Good as Lili Gruber is, both as a journalist and as a politician - she is not alone, nor is she the first Italian woman to achieve the right to be mentioned in the Guardian. Oh, well - perhaps the Guardian hack is just suffering from mammary-envy!