Zeman attacks liberal media
Miloš Zeman has caused a scandal at the ceremony at which he was sworn in for a second term as Czech President. In his speech at Prague Castle he accused liberal media, specifically the newspaper Hospodářské noviny, the magazine Respekt and the public television broadcaster, of manipulating public opinion. Reactions from the Czech press vary widely.
A traditional communist-style president
Jan Štětka, a commentator for Hospodářské noviny, which also came under fire, describes a disturbing sense of déjà-vu:
“Instead of uniting society Zeman went in front of the cameras and named media that according to him are biassed in their reporting. That's exactly what the communist regime did when it blacklisted people it deemed shouldn't be talked about. ... The members of parliament who stood up and left the chamber in protest demonstrated a sense of responsibility and basic common sense. Zeman had transformed one of the most worthy rooms in our country into a centre of agitation. The only appropriate response was to answer rudeness with rudeness and get up and leave.”
Legitimate but badly timed
For its part Mladá fronta dnes, which was not lambasted in Zeman's address, has no problems with the president's words. It merely criticises the timing:
“No one can forbid the president from voicing criticism. And in a free country it's totally normal when such criticism is aimed at the media. This is not an attack on freedom of opinion but an expression of that freedom. ... Everything Zeman said was completely legitimate. He can voice his opinions to his closest advisors, on the squares of Czech cities, in parliament, and even as he is sworn in for a second term in Prague Castle's Vladislav Hall. However, in the latter scenario it looks incredibly stupid.”