TVP1 main news programme „Wiadomości” (The News) report on the Poland debate in the European Parliament on October 19 2021, failed to inform viewers what was said by many speakers but merely delivered a one sided account and commentary on speeches which reflected the Polish government’s position.
The newscast aired at 19.30 led with the following message: „A stormy debate in Strasbourg. On the one hand, a defence of Polish sovereignty, on the other, anti-Polish speeches. Poland defended its sovereignty and European values – a heated discussion in Europarliament”.
The first sentence told viewers what the item would be about. The second fired their emotions.
„The News” anchor played on viewers emotions in his second introductory statement: „Poland defends its sovereignty and European values – a heated discussion in the Europarliament”, he said. Three items in the 30 minute newscast reported on the debate. These included an interview with a guest. In all 45 per cent of the newscast that day were devoted to the Poland debate.
All three items paid more attention to the statements and arguments of the government side than to those of the opposition and critics of Polish policy in the Parliament. All the commentators reflected the government position. When opposition members were quoted their statements were immediately countered by Law and Justice (PiS, the governing party) or pro government commentors. The same role was played by reporters and the programme’s anchor. Donald Tusk, the leader of the main opposition party played a special role in this news report. He was mentioned in both news items and in the interview with the guest.
Tusk plays a leading role
The first item was entitled: „Poland defends sovereignty and the treaties”. The TVP reporter speaking live from Strasbourg said: „As expected, criticism of the Polish Government and the Polish state was voiced by German MEPs belonging to Donald Tusk’s group, the European People’s Party (EPP), of which he is president. However, there were also many voices defending our country”. Further the reporter hit a more emotional tone: „Polish opposition politicians in the Europarliament expressed their contempt for Poles who in democratic elections voted twice in a row to entrust power to the United Right”.
There is more on the Polish opposition leader: „ Donald Tusk, the head of the European People’s Party, once wanted to reset relations with Russia and now, commentators say, he is in the same team as Germany”. This phrase is illustrated with a shot of Tusk standing against the background of a dockland crane in Gdańsk. He says to camera „Fur Deutschland” in German. Since the beginning of 2021 this picture has been shown on „The News” 96 times or more than once every three days. The 19th of October newscast ran 5 pro Law and Justice quotes to every pro opposition statement. If we include commentators and the anchor the proportion was 12 to 1.
„The ‘street and abroad’ strategy (a reference to demonstrations against PiS policies and appeals to the EU-ed) implemented by Donald Tusk uses manipulation and fake news, which some politicians from the Polish opposition then distribute abroad. They do not even shrink from fighting for financial sanctions against their own country” – is the lead to the second item on the Poland debate. This item is headlined„The opposition wants to deprive Poles of money”.
The item run for five minutes with reporter saying: „Commentators are in no doubt: the attacks on Poland intensified after Donald Tusk came back to Poland from Brussels. Donald Tusk’s former close associates in Brussels continue to propose solutions that – there is no doubt – strike at the Polish raison d’etat. Apparently, it is a total opposition priority for Donald Tusk and his supporters regain power. The method doesn’t change: the street and abroad”.
However „The News” that day did run short critical remarks from Polish opposition speeches such as:
„The message is: “From Strasbourg with love”. You won’t get a penny! (Robert Biedroń). „The time for expressing concern is over” (Marek Belka). „Our rulers have a view of a European Union that doesn’t exist and won’t exist. Those in power are thinking of a monetary union” (Leszek Miller). „Madam Speaker, thank you very much for the clear warning to Prime Minister Morawiecki’s government… We warn that the Law and Justice government could put Poland at risk of sanctions” (Radek Sikorski). „ Maybe some kind of shock is needed? Or maybe some punishment is needed?” (Sławomir Nitras).
The quotes from pro government commentators and Law and Justice politicians were much longer:
„I am ashamed of those Polish Members who attack Poland and their homeland. However, there is a twist in the tale, as they are usually former socialists or they were involved in privatizing the economy which resulted in the sale all our national assets”. (Beata Szydło PiS).
„The speeches in the European Parliament leave no room for doubt. Opposition politicians are resorting to lies and slander, and all these boil down to, is that Poland should not receive any funds from the European Union, even though Poland is, after all, a financial contributor to the European Union” (Dorota Kania, chief editor at the Orlen, a state owned company’s, Polska Press).
„There is one rule in the European Union. They only give you as much money as they can steal from you. And if that formula doesn’t work, they move to investigate the rule of law situation. And this works. It really works. We were granted money with one hand and even more money was taken away with the other. The moment the Poles cracked down on fraud…. Poland came to be called a lawless country” (Tomasz Sakiewicz, chief editor at „Gazeta Polska”).
„This is happening at the cost of the Polish people. This is no longer a game between politicians for power at the top. This is an attempt to starve the country but also to starve the Poles, to block our development. The opposition is condemning some young Poles to choose emigration by blocking these funds, or they are co-blocking (by working with Brussels – ed) them at the very least.” (Jacek Karnowski, chief editor „Sieci”).
„The News” reporter sums up the debate thus:
„Anti-Polish demands, which are financially, economically and socially disadvantageous, are being effectively resisted. Commentators have no doubt that this it is precisely this resistance to the economic hegemony of Brussels and Berlin that explains why we have this illegal pressure on our country. Poland is growing in strength and this which is not to everyone’s liking “.
This item saw the proportions of coverage of pro PiS and anti PiS as 3 to 1. No commentators favourable to the opposition side were quoted.
The vision of Europe of the Future
The next item in “The News” which was linked to the Strasbourg debate was headlined „Ideology takes the place of democracy and values”. The news reader said: “Without nations, without Christianity and without the traditional family, and above all without democracy, but with a central government in Brussels and Berlin. This is a vision of the Europe of the Future that is provoking growing resistance in the European Union. It is a vision which Poland strongly opposes”.
This item opens with a video of a road side crucifix cut and pushed onto its side. „The News” reporter says:
„A Cross – a symbol of Christianity and of the victory of life over death. Here, in Zielona Góra, the cross came under attack. The perpetrator immortalised the desecration in a film, which he ran on the internet. This came a few weeks after a well known call by Sławomir Nitras from the Civic Platform to fight against the Catholics”.
The Civic Platform politician told young people at a meeting last August referring to the Catholic Church: ”We have to cut some of their privileges, because if we don’t, they will raise their heads again”.
The reporter comments: „This is an exceptionally symbolic film. It illustrates the overthrow of the traditional hierarchy of values in which the human being is the most important. Experts say that the aim is to build a European super state with a federal government in Brussels, and this can only be achieved by abolishing religious and national communities. The Polish government does not agree to this, as it wants a Europe of homelands, a community based on economic cooperation between sovereign nation states.
Hence Brussel’s ideological blackmail towards Poland. This includes the threat to withhold funds from local authorities that have decided to support traditional families. EU officials are also openly demanding the recognition in law of homosexual marriages, together with the right to adopt children, against the will of the majority of Poles. This is already the case in Sweden and the Netherlands, for example.
Brussels also demands the right to kill unborn children as it considers abortion to be a fundamental human right. That is not all. Against the democratic will of Poles and also against the will of the citizens of other member states, Brussels is forcing through an ideological climate package. Theoretically, this is about protecting the environment. In practice it will mean drastic increases in energy prices. There will also be no meat. The European super state of the future favours a vegan society. Even fishing may be banned. And this is just a prelude to what our lives will be in the European super state. Hence Poland’s rigid position in defence of a free, prosperous and, above all, democratic Europe.
Comments by journalists from „The News” take up half of this item. There are also comments from Professor Zbigniew Krysiak from the Schumanna Institute and Mieczysław Ryba, a profesor at the Catholic University in Lublin (KUL). Both support the main theses of the item.
Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission’s speech was also quoted in this context: „I will be pressing for mutual recognition of family relationships within the European Union. If you are a parent in one country you are, of course, a parent throughout the Union…. Carbon emissions must have a price, a price that encourages producers, consumers and innovators to choose clean technologies, to move towards clean and sustainable energy”.
The running time proportions were pro PiS 3 anti PiS 1.
Donald Tusk returns at the end of „The News” when the programme’s guest Michał Wójcik, a minister in the Prime Minister’s chancery asks:”Tusk, ladies and gentlemen, the face of Brexit, the man on whose watch in the European Council one country left the European Union, and now he defends the European Union. Isn’t that funny?”
„The News” interviewer fails to react and simply invites viewers to watch the next programme.
Warszawa, 22 października 2021.