Prime Minister’s attempt to lecture journalists is inappropriate

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili held a meeting today in his private residence with representatives of Georgian TV stations. During the meeting he made several harsh and aggressive remarks towards individual journalists and criticized the overall level of professionalism in the Georgian media.

Ivanishvili had prepared copies of specific articles and made detailed notes about TV reports that he personally disliked. He also quoted these on several occasions, demanding explanations from individual reporters present at the meeting for past reporting he did not agree with. Furthermore, he lamented the “journalists’ poor techniques when raising questions, providing argumentation,  and choosing respondents, and their poor knowledge in the field of economy.”

It was not the first time the Prime Minister provided his personal assessment of the performance of individual journalists at a public event, and attempting to lecture media representatives on what he considered good journalistic standards. This time, the Prime Minister’s tone and his instructions on how reporters should formulate questions can be considered an undue interference in the work of the media.

A Prime Minister – as any politician or high-level official – has to accept that not all media coverage will be to his or her liking. With public office comes public scrutiny, and it is this inconvenient scrutiny that helps keep officials and politicians accountable. That is why a free and pluralistic media is a key aspect of a democracy.

Georgia now finally has a pluralistic media landscape, which could be regarded as a post-election achievement. Different media outlets are accessible to large parts of the population, providing different views and narratives, allowing voters to form their own opinions. Rather than lashing out at media representative he disagrees with, the Prime Minister should take pride in the fact the country he leads has a largely free and pluralistic media landscape with journalists producing critical reports.