Romanian journalists and academics march in support of “media lynched” intellectual

Romanian journalists and academics march in support of “media lynched” intellectual


By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest

Hundreds of journalists, artists and academics in Romania have signed a petition and said they would attend a march of protest on Sunday against what they called “the media-lynch” of renown intellectual, Andrei Plesu, who, while on a televised talk-show, was insulted by the anchors of a TV station, which has created itself a bad reputation for attacking the political rivals of its owner.

Today, Revista 22 (22 Magazine) and the Group for Social Dialogue (GDS), a Romanian leading think tank, announced they are organizing a march of protest in the University Square, a traditional place for public manifestations since the anti-communist protest in 1989, on Sunday. The two also launched a solidarity call which has so far been signed by hundreds of people, mostly intellectuals.

“The undersigned noted with indignation and revolt the new media aggression against an important personality of our intellectual life. The words being uttered for an hour by a TV station against one of Romania’s most respected academics, professor Andrei Plesu, founder and rector of an institution admired throughout the world, the New Europe College, belong to a toxic legacy that we wished it was completely over, that of denigration and denouncements , of threats and summary executions” reads the petition.

On the evening of March 11, Andrei Plesu, former minister of Foreign Affairs and presidential advisor, one of the Romania’s most reputed intellectuals, was invited to Antena 3 TV station, owned by Dan Voiculescu, the most influential media mogul and an arch-rival of President Traian Basescu. For the duretion of the talk-show, the two hosts, Mihai Gadea and Mugur Ciuvica, launched a fierce verbal attack replete with insults against Plesu, whom they accused of being “a servant” of all the post-communist political regimes. “He is lying like a pig” and “the man is also stupid” Ciuvica said of Plesu at a certain point.

At the end of the talk-show, Gadea read what he called grammar mistakes Plesu had made over time in his editorials and urged the latter to stop “making a fool of yourself”.

Revista 22 and GDS also lodged a complaint with the National Audio-Visual Council (CNA), the state TV and radio programs regulator. “We assign full responsibility to the state for the unprecedented media aggression against Andrei Plesu (…) is a filthy attack against the true values of the Romanian culture. Us who sign this petition feel ourselves insulted as well”, concluded the text.

Asked today if he would attend the rally on Sunday, President Basescu, whose advisor Plesu was in his first term, said he wouldn’t for fear such a gesture would be “politicized”, “even if I stand by Andrei Plesu”.  In February, Antena 3 received a 50,000 lei (about 11,000 Euros) fine from CNA after insulting journalist Andreea Pora, a supporter of President Basescu. A number of 15 complaints have since then been filed at CNA both from individuals and NGOs.