Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lepper's Coup - Is Media At Fault in Sex Scandal?

Self Defence leader Andrzej Lepper with his usual flair for overaggeration and hysterics, has already called it a coup attemp and called for the closure (!) of Gazeta Wyborcza. But is Poland's media at fault here for the sex scandal that has been consuming Lepper's party. Is Lepper right?

The answer, mostly, is no. Wyborcza, no lover of Lepper, has perhaps jumped the gun with its sex scandal story a week ago before investigating all the lose ends. And, from what I had seen, some of its journalists were too eager to sell the story instead of remaining as neutral as possible in the light of imminent accusations from Herr Leader and his posse. But the story itself was well reported and had collaborating evidence from other women and former Self Defense officials. At least one more woman has come forward to speak of work-for-sex set up in the party. Something certainly stinks there and Wyborcza had a duty to expose this sad situation.

And it wasn't just Wyborcza that pushed the story foward. Aneta Krawczyk revealed herself and fresh allegations on TVN's respected news show Now Us, the same one that had only a few weeks ago showed the video tapes by another Self Defense politician being offered political favors for swithching to the Kaczynski brothers' party. Other newspapers and TV channels chimed in with their own charges. It is the duty of news organizations to seek the truth, even if its quite messy.

And closing a leading newspaper? This is not Belarus, no matter how much Lepper and Co. have been trying to take Poland on that path. Last time I checked Krawczyk was on top of Self Defense's electorate list earlier this year and ran the office of the man she later accused of harassing her. So if Self Defense found her that reliable shouldn't Lepper consider closing down his own party now? They groomed her for this.

Polish media doesn't have the cleanest hands in this affair, even as evidenced by the mad scene on the day Krawczyk and her daughter arrived for their DNA testing. There should be some rethinking of some newsgathering tactics. But in the end, most of the media outlets did exactly what they should have -- air out the truth.