Despite his claims, Donald Tusk does not want neutral media

Donald Tusk is surrounded by media and supporters after exiting a voting station during parliamentary elections in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

In a letter to parliament speaker Szymon Holownia, Polish President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, said that any changes to public media must be carried out in line with the constitution.

“Without questioning the right to introduce changes by the parliamentary majority, it should be emphasized that a political goal cannot constitute an excuse for violating or circumventing constitutional and statutory regulations,” he wrote.

Duda was reacting to moves by the parliamentary majority which in a resolution demanded action by the government and other public bodies to urgently make changes in public media and called the National Media Council, the body which by law appoints and dismisses the management of public media, “illegitimate and unconstitutional.”

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has been saying that he wants to see public media return to being neutral and pluralistic. However, when he was last in power, the media in Poland was far from being either.

Tusk treats TVP journalists with contempt, saying they are not real journalists, threatening them with legal sanctions, and stopping them from having access to public buildings and government press conferences. They were also denied accreditation for his latest trip to Brussels. 

Now that parliament has passed its resolution calling for state action against public media, we can expect that force will be used. The man responsible for public media, Culture Minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, who was interior minister in the last Tusk government, has experience concerning the use of force. The security forces he supervised provoked demonstrators during independence marches and stormed the premises of an independent magazine when it refused to reveal sources for its publications based on illicit recordings of public officials. 

Purging public media is, however, one of the few election promises that Tusk is keen to carry out, but this has nothing to do with pluralism. It is about ensuring that all electronic media is singing from his government’s hymn sheet.

All media is to give him coverage and transmit his message. If they don’t, they will be treated with contempt and vilified as TVP journalists are experiencing today. 

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