Commentary. Conte has every right to respond to the falsehoods that are flooding the media at every hour of the day. He certainly has the right to correct the latest ones, regarding the European Stability Mechanism, now at the center of the ongoing negotiations and clashes across Europe and in Italy.

Lies, the censor and the prime minister

I have a question: how many times has Prime Minister Conte been personally attacked on live TV, and on the media circuit aligned with the opposition? And without any pushback? Didn’t the leader of Fratelli d’Italia accuse Conte of being no less than a “criminal,” without any host or news director telling her, “No, you can’t say that on live TV”?

When did Mr. Mentana ever get indignant about the terrible names the prime minister has been called? And now that he says he wouldn’t have aired Conte’s reply with accusations against Salvini and Meloni if he had known what it contained, doesn’t that amount to sheer censorship?

It’s not like he received a recorded tape from Berlusconi, like in the old days, when the appeals to the people were being delivered from Arcore via VHS tape to the favorite news shows of the “family”—and of course to those of the very welcoming RAI, back when the infamous “Rainvest” media-industrial complex ruled the airwaves.

Conte had—and does have—every right to respond to the falsehoods that are flooding the media at every hour of the day. He certainly has the right to correct the latest ones, regarding the ESM, now at the center of the ongoing negotiations and clashes across Europe and in Italy. He has the right and the duty to respond to the lies being shouted from the rooftops that are muddying public opinion, thanks to a highly flawed—if not submissive and complicit—information sector. He has a duty to remind everyone that he is not to blame for the ESM.

In fact, the EU has pointed out, for the benefit of all concerned, that the agreement on the “state bailout fund” was passed in 2011, during the Berlusconi IV government, which featured the young Meloni as a minister—the same who today is acting out the role of the victim, together with Salvini, the one who used and abused the institutional role of Interior Minister, and who is now shamelessly appealing to the President, after having set loose a barrage of mudslinging and fake news against Conte and his government.

Those in opposition, it’s true, are playing all the cards they have. We, who are intimately familiar with the role of the opposition, and who think very highly of it, have never stooped to using lies or personal insults. However, the right wingers of today employ these on a daily basis. And they are doing so in desperation, because they know they are irrelevant in this crisis.

Moreover, the scandals emerging in the regions that are now under their leadership confirm their responsibility and guilty inability to fight the pandemic from the beginning.

They are firing back as hard as they can, because with every day that passes, the veil is lifted over conduct that is now the focus of judicial investigations. The director of the Pio Albergo Trivulzio hospital and retirement home, who is now being investigated for spreading the epidemic and manslaughter, is tied to Lombardy’s right-wing government. Their kicking the ball as far out of the court as possible serves to distract the Italians from the tragedy that thousands of families are experiencing after having lost their loved ones due to highly reckless healthcare decisions that have put the lives of patients at risk.

On the contrary, those who directly or indirectly support this government should appreciate having a prime minister who speaks clearly and straightforwardly, who does not hide reality from the citizens, who does not bow to pressures from Confindustria, who is not a lapdog of the political forces that support him, and who, most importantly, never propagates dubious claims. Perhaps he should have explained the ESM issue better, because not everyone is well informed, quite the opposite—but it was necessary to give an answer to the Italian people.

However, there is criticism to be made regarding the government coalition. Because it seems clear that the tragedy of the situation that is affecting every cell of our social life cannot be erased by a “let’s just be friends” attitude which keeps sweeping the dirt under the rug. Between the PD and M5S, rivalries, differences in vision and disagreements are resurfacing, able to undermine the fragile ground on which the coalition rests.

Looking at Conte’s performance on TV once again, a certain nervousness could be noted on his part, only partly due to the pressure of the moment. This majority, born against the right wingers’ demand for full power, built in defense of a democratic climate undermined by hatred, racism and xenophobia, needs more and more to prove that it can rise to the level of a political proposal capable of starting off the reconstruction of the country, misgoverned by a system that has turned it into a reign of inequality in Europe.

It must do so, because this change towards a social-oriented state and a state based on the rule of law (for workers as well as for immigrants and prisoners), in the context of a crucial and unimaginably vast European battle against the deadly destruction wrought by the virus, does not admit of any postponement, nor of any alternative.

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