After Silvio Berlusconi’s attempts to restrict press freedom, the Times Online reported:
Italy’s artistic and intellectual elite was in open revolt yesterday against Silvio Berlusconi’s moves to sue at least three newspapers at home and abroad. More than 120,000 people have signed an online petition defending press freedom.
Umberto Eco, perhaps the country’s leading writer, Dario Fo, the playwright, and Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah, the bestseller about the Naples Mafia, were among those signing the petition, started byLa Repubblica. The paper is being sued for questioning the Prime Minister’s behaviour and private life.
Mr Eco said: “When someone has to intervene to defend freedom of the press it means that the society, and with it a great part of the press itself, is already sick.” He added that in robust democracies there was no need to defend press freedom “because it enters nobody’s mind to limit it”.
For an in-depth analysis of Berlusconi’s media manipulation, read contemporary Italy’s foremost historian Paul Ginsborg’s Silvio Berlusconi: Television, Power and Patrimony. Ginsborg combines historical narrative—Berlusconi’s childhood in the dynamic and paternalist Milanese bourgeoisie, his strict religious schooling, a working life which has encompassed crooning, large construction projects and the creation of a commercial television empire—with careful analysis of Berlusconi’s political development. While never forgetting the italianità of Berlusconi’s trajectory, he argues that the Italian example is highly instructive for all modern societies. What Berlusconi represents—the relationship between the media system and politics, the nature of personal dominion at a time of crisis in representative democracy, the connection between the consumer world, families and politics, and the exploitation of the wide-open spaces left by the strategic weaknesses of modern left-wing politics—are, Ginsborg suggests, near-universal.