'Fake news' claim riles Italy's media, politicians

ROME • Italy's media and traditional political parties were up in arms yesterday after the head of the populist Five Star movement accused journalists of "manufacturing false news".

Comedian Beppe Grillo, founder of the anti-euro movement, lashed out at print and TV journalists, accusing them of fabricating news to keep Five Star down.

"Newspapers and television news programmes are the biggest manufacturers of false news in the country, with the aim of ensuring those who have power keep it," he said on his blog on Tuesday.

He called for "a popular jury to determine the veracity of the news published", and said in cases of fake news "the editor must, head bowed, make a public apology and publish the correct version at the start of the programme or on the paper's front page". Mr Grillo said members of the public "picked at random" would be shown newspaper articles and programmes and asked "to determine their accuracy".

The blog was accompanied by a montage of the banners and logos of Italy's main newspapers and television news programmes.

The media world was enraged. The news director of the private TG La7 channel, Mr Enrico Mentana, said he would sue Mr Grillo, while journalists' union FNSI slammed the "lynching of all journalists".

What Mr Grillo is proposing "is called Fascism, and those who play it down are accomplices", said Senator Stefano Esposito from the ruling centre-left Democratic Party.

The centre-right Forza Italia party said Mr Grillo wanted a "minculpop 2.0", a reference to the propaganda and censorship ministry under dictator Benito Mussolini.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline ''Fake news' claim riles Italy's media, politicians'. Print Edition | Subscribe