A Polish university professor has called for criminal charges to be brought against several public media journalists in Poland after the suicide of a teenager. The teen’s death may be linked to a pedophile scandal involving a boy who was presumably a victim of an activist from the liberal Civic Platform (PO) opposition party.
Prof. Maciej Górecki of Warsaw University took to social media to demand jail time for a number of journalists who covered the story.
The posts relate to the storm that has unfolded in Polish media and politics since opposition MP Magdalena Filiks announced the death of her son, Mikołaj, who committed suicide. Media reports linked the death with the pedophile scandal that shook Polish politics.
Late last year, Radio Szczecin covered the pedophile case in such a way that people were able to identify Mikołaj as a victim in the case. The liberal opposition alleged that the coverage of the story by public media led to the boy — whose identity had been revealed — committing suicide.
They have been joined by many journalists who accuse the public media of attempting to besmirch the name of the opposition party by alleging it has a serious problem with pedophilia in its ranks.
The journalists from TVP and Polish Radio however argue that revealing the scandal was in the public interest and that the identity of the MP and her son was covered in exactly the same way by several commercial media outlets.
Prof. Maciej Górecki is a social scientist at the University of Warsaw and lectures in psychology. His interests include electoral behavior, electoral systems, comparative politics, and methodology of opinion research. He is well known for highly controversial and even extreme statements.
It was no surprise then that he should comment on the case of the tragedy involving the MP’s son. He blamed the journalists working for public media and took to Twitter to write that “all TVP staff are criminals.”
He further detailed this by confirming that he means all staff “from the cleaner up to the CEO” in both TV and radio at the national and regional level. He added that “they should all be sacked and blacklisted because they are all collectively responsible for what is produced.” He named four individual journalists who in his view should be sentenced to jail.
This is an extreme stance, but one that shows the heat that this tragedy has generated. The PO are furious about being accused of harboring pedophiles and are pointing the finger of blame firmly on the public media for having caused the tragic suicide of the MP’s son.
And the public media journalists, in turn, are defending themselves by accusing the opposition of politicizing the case.