A long way to a sim­ple mes­sage

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

Par­lia­ment’s spe­cial com­mit­tee tasked with in­ves­ti­gat­ing the fund­ing of po­lit­i­cal par­ties and me­dia out­lets ended its work last week af­ter nine months of de­lib­er­a­tions in which dozens of wit­nesses were ques­tioned (mainly rep­re­sen­ta­tives of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, banks and the me­dia) and thou­sands of doc­u­ments stud­ied, re­lat­ing to loans is­sued to par­ties, news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion sta­tions. Af­ter all that hul­la­baloo, the com­mit­tee con­cluded that it found no ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing that po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cials were im­pli­cated in any il­le­gal trans­ac­tions or activities. Law­mak­ers are ex­pected to start de­bat­ing the de­ci­sion on Wed­nes­day, but the com­mit­tee’s full re­port has now been put into the hands of ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Par­lia­ment’s an­nounce­ment. They, in turn, will con­duct their own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether par­ties or me­dia out­lets were il­le­gally funded. So what does this tell us? Does it tell us that par­lia­men­tary in­ves­tiga­tive com­mit­tees are use­less be­cause this one failed to come up with any spe­cific find­ings? Not at all. What bet­ter ex­cuse could the gov­ern­ment have found to again rail against the “cor­rup­tion tri­an­gle of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, me­dia and banks,” to cause a stir and to fur­ther un­der­cut the me­dia’s re­lia- bil­ity and re­spectabil­ity? Does that mean that there are no en­tan­gled in­ter­ests and ev­ery­thing is right as rain in the re­la­tion­ships be­tween par­ties, banks and me­dia? Of course not. Any­one who be­lieves that is ei­ther deeply naive or has a spe­cific agenda. The is­sue at hand, how­ever, is what comes next af­ter an in­sti­tu­tion is used to mis­lead the pub­lic, to feed the fu­tile and histri­onic war be­tween the dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties (it is well known that each party will in­ter­pret a com­mit­tee rul­ing how­ever it sees fit) and to sully ev­ery­one, the guilty and the in­no­cent, with a lit­tle bit of the dirt of blame. The an­swer, of course, is the peo­ple’s judg­ment and the de­ci­sions of jus­tice. Both are used as a smoke screen and as a ban­dage. The for­mer be­cause it has the amaz­ing flex­i­bil­ity of turn­ing in­stantly from vic­tim to ul­ti­mate tor­men­tor, and the lat­ter be­cause it is evoked by the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem when it wants to make a state­ment that will not be ques­tioned or doubted. Ba­si­cally, a lot of hard work has gone into send­ing a mes­sage that Steve Ban­non, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s me­dia strate­gist, said in one phrase: “The me­dia should... keep its mouth shut and just lis­ten for awhile.”

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