Enzo Biagi is back April 23, 2007Posted by dorigo in news.
It is with a sigh of relief that I finally see Enzo Biagi back on his chair, ready to comment on the latest news with his usual witty, dry style. Biagi is an illustrious italian journalist and a novelist. At the mature age of 86 years, he is still capable of surprising insight in his country’s affairs.
Five years ago Biagi, who is not politically tagged but was nonetheless seen as an opposer by the center-right government, had a short but incisive 10-minute slot in prime time on the public TV network RAI, Il fatto . He had been discussing politics in a way that was not of the liking of Silvio Berlusconi, who was then Prime Minister.
It so happened that on April 18th, 2002, in a unprecedented act of imperium, mr. Berlusconi mandated that Biagi, along with Michele Santoro -another TV journalist directing a lively talk show- and the comedian Daniele Luttazzi, be stripped of their jobs, because they were using the public network for attacks to the government. The premier, speaking to journalists during a visit to Bulgaria, accused Biagi, Luttazzi and Santoro of “making a criminous use of public television”. Here are his words:
L’uso che Biagi, Santoro, … come si chiama quell’altro … Luttazzi, hanno fatto della televisione pubblica, pagata con i soldi di tutti, è un uso criminoso. E io credo che sia un preciso dovere della nuova dirigenza di non permettere più che questo avvenga.
(The use that Biagi, Santoro,…what’s the other one’s name… Luttazzi, made of public television, paid with everybody’s money, is a criminous use. And I believe it is a precise duty of the new management of preventing this from happening in the future. [TD’s translation])
The sentence was called “editto bulgaro” (bulgarian edict). And “the new management” of RAI (the lackeys he had placed there by virtue of an italian spoils system following his victorious 2001 elections) complied: in the turn of a few months Biagi, Luttazzi and Santoro’s programs were canceled. That was a horrible demonstration of the concept our Prime Minister had of democracy and freedom of speech, as well as of the amount of those things which were in effect in Italy under Berlusconi’s leadership.
Evidently, one reasoned, only the private TV network owned by Berlusconi himself was really free… That is the real power of a free market!, proclaimed his supporters, pointing out that it was a great source of democracy the fact that Italy had so strong a private TV network… That point was also bound to be forgotten soon thereafter, when the newscaster Enrico Mentana -who appeared too balanced in his handling of political issues if seen from the right- was removed from the prime time news on Canale 5, the main battleship of the Mediaset network.
Now Biagi is back on track – after five years of absence. Five years are a long time for a 86-years old journalist, but he seems to handle it well. He said yesterday: “Excuse me for the temporary absence, due to technical reasons”. Welcome back, Enzo!