Here in Italy we’re in the middle of a media blackout. That means you can’t mention anyone by name until the regional elections at the end of the month. So what were once lively televised debates have become censored affairs full of, “Don’t say that!” and the bleeping out of certain names. Of course, they get around the censors by calling Berlusconi “The Sultan,” or some such euphemism. Kinoppete suggests things were actually better in the USSR circa 1976:
Carl Bernstein was invited on the controversial Italain political show Annozero last night. He spoke twice (from New York), and it appeared that there were indeed two separate Carl Bernsteins: one who chose journalistic prudence: “We have to be very careful of generalizations. I think many of the restrictions of good journalism are self-imposed.” He won a Pulitzer Prize, so he should know. Below is the clip, around 4:30. (Video blocked.)
Which brings us to the second Carl Bernstein. About half an hour later, the previously prudent Bernstein–who had admitted he wasn’t in any position to judge Italian politics because he didn’t really follow them–lashed out against the Berlusconi government as “a kind of Soviet Stalinism.” You can hear this at around 3:20 in the clip below. (Same story.)
What was responsible for the sudden change of heart? Even Michele Santoro, who earlier had introduced Bernstein as “played by Robert Redford in the movie”, commented: “Bernstein must have had an espresso.”
I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it, but the richest man in Italy is now seriously courting the Nobel Peace Prize. On his website he promotes himself as an economic humanist inspired by Milton Friedman and Muhamud Yunus. Of course, he has recently been embroiled in a spiraling sex scandal which may follow him to the grave. Last week he was rebuffed by Michelle Obama, causing enormous guffaws among his detractors.
Italy’s current political tragedy is that the left has nobody better to offer than this man.