Czech Republic: As if the American government advertised on Breitbart News...
11. 2. 2017
The Czech Trade and Industry Ministry, headed by Jan Mládek from the Social Democratic Party, has paid 165 000 crowns (6500 US dollars) to advertise on the widely read, extreme right wing website Parlamentní listy. This sum of money will pay for ten PR articles and three interviews with top ministry officials and several PR photographs.
Media specialists warn that Parlamentní listy, a website which is very similar to the American website Breitbart News, uses methods which are in direct contradiction with the rules of journalism. "The authors use emotional language and manipulative techniques and every fifth published article expresses negative emotions," says Petra Vejvodová, an expert on propaganda from Masaryk University in Brno.
The emotionally manipulative articles published on Parlamentní listy often produce waves of hate speech from its readers. As a result of articles published on Parlamentní listy, Czech pro-refugee activists Eva Zahradníčková has received many death threats, both by email and by telephone. Britské listy journalists Daniel Veselý and Jan Čulík are also regularly receiving hate mail and death threats from Parlamentní listy readers. Some of the death threats against these two journalists have been published on the Parlamentní listy readers' forum.
Czech public service radio has compiled a list of one hundred most frequently shared fake news items (i.e. news items that cannot be verified) on social networks in the past year. 3 fake news articles, published by Parlamentní listy, are in the top ten of this list. Of the one hundred most frequently share fake news items on social networks, 35 have been published by Parlamentní listy.
The Czech Social Democratic party seems to have a strange affinity to Parlamentní listy. In 2014-2016, the office of Michal Hašek, the then governor of the South Moravian region, paid 650 000 Czech crowns (25600 USD] for advertising on Parlamentní listy.
The former deputy speaker of the European Parliament and Czech Social Democratic euro MP Libor Rouček is amongst those Czech politicians who give interviews to Parlamentní listy, as is the former Czech Social Democratic Foreign Secretary Jan Kavan. Czech politicians from many other parties give interviews to Parlamentní listy, thus legitimising the website. Some of these politicians do not necessarily share the extreme right wing views of the Parlamentní listy website or its grossly manipulative techniques, but by giving interviews to the website they legitimise it.
Parlamentní listy is a hugely popular Czech website, owned by Ivo Valenta, member of the Upper House of Czech Parliament and a gambling oligarch. It has been in the forefront of disseminating racist, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim fake news. The website is extremely influential and is daily followed by hundreds of thousands of readers. Its business model seems to be based on disseminating alarmist news and racist material and provoking fear in the Czech public. The website is also pro-Russian and anti-EU.
The name of the website “The Parliamentary Newsletter” is a misnomer – the publication has nothing to do with Czech Parliament. Nevertheless, Czech politicians frequently give interviews to the website because of its large readership, thus legitimizing it. The website is accessed more than 600 000 readers per month, i.e. 6 percent of the Czech population. Many of the articles published on Parlamentní listy are probably criminal offences of slandering a race, an ethnic group or a religion and inciting hatred against ethnic and religious minorities, which according to Articles 355 and 356 of the Czech Criminal Code are punishable by three year’s imprisonment, if these offences are committed in the media. But the Czech authorities do not prosecute.
Here is a selection of headlines from Parlamentní listy:
– Sociologist Petr Hampl: We have the right to deal with the refugees as though they were aggressors. The traitors of the Czech nation are helping them to exterminate us like the whites have exterminated the Red Indians. The Czech Human Rights Ombudsman, she is the real Neo-Nazi
– This is death. There will be bloody tragedies. Hatred of the Czechs, monstrous behaviour, treachery, suicide, collaborators, chaos – We will not feed any Muslims. Everything in this country has been stolen, everything is owned by foreigners, says a general and a war hero
Source in Czech: HERE
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