Prague - The Czech Prime Minister's turbulent relationship with journalists just hit a new low.
At yesterday's press briefing Mirek Topolánek unleashed what must have been his most vicious attack on media so far.
The reason for his furious outburst was the recent interest of the press in the car he and his current life partner and party colleague Lucie Talmanová drive.
"Don Gorgiono's mob job"
According to him, the whole "Volvo case" was engineered by the Social Democrats. He mentioned the work of public relation assistants of the main opposition party and "their chief Giorgino", by whom he apparently meant his predecessor Jiří Paroubek.
"You must be insane not to call their bluff", the Prime Minister shouted in agitation. He then called the journalists vengeful and corrupted. He said they blackmailed him to get his opinion on the case.
"If you don't respond, don't be surprised that we write what we write", Topolánek quoted from an e-mail which he had supposedly received from the journalists of the news weekly "Týden".
He also said he is already considering a law which would restrict the media. While calling himself no fan of the legislative regulation of the media, the pressure under which he recently found himself made him realize there might be a need for such a law after all, he said.
According to him, Czech Syndicate of Journalists doesn't properly deal with the mistakes media often commit. And taking journalists to court doesn't work either. "After seven years there will be an apology on page 37," he said
Mediacracy or mediocrity?
To characterize journalists, Topolánek borrowed the laconic expression the former social democratic Prime Minister Miloš Zeman used for his supposed enemies in the press: gutter.
Monday's briefings usually start with the prime minister gently scolding the journalists for misusing their huge power in the age of "mediacracy" and for poor work.
Through regular meetings with the press he wanted to make their relationships better, but the result has been the opposite, he said.
He hasn't decided yet whether he wants to continue "educating" journalists and setting the record straight, or whether he is going to cancel these meetings altogether.
The problem called Volvo
The whole Volvo issue, which sent Topolánek erupting, centers on the question of who owns the car he and Ms. Talmanová have used for the last several months.
Journalists have been trying to find out whether he is borrowing the luxury car from someone to whom he could be obliged in the future, and to whom he could owe a favor.
The car officially belongs to Ms Talmanová. Last week, her assistant announced that she bought it from the girlfriend of Topolánek's adviser Marek Dalík. The sale was organized through a used car dealer.
The interest of journalists was actually sparked by Topolánek himself, who claimed publicly that he didn't own any car.
It has been only a few weeks since photographers took pictures of Topolánek driving the aforementioned Volvo to pick up Talmanová and their new born son from the maternity hospital.
The tabloid media published a picture of him in the same car together with his now estranged wife Pavla during last year's election campaign. Meanwhile, Talmanová's assistant claimed that she bought the car this year.
The official version of the story now seem to be as follows: The car is owned by Talmanová. But before she actually bought it from Dalík's girlfriend, she used to borrow it.