Miffed Italian PM Berlusconi threatens news blackout

April 6th, 2009 - 2:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama Rome, Apr.6 (ANI): A furious Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to take action against journalists for reporting his latest gaffes, involving British Queen Elizabeth II and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Berlusconi has accused newspapers and television stations of slandering him and damaging the country’s reputation by highlighting his alleged faux pas.

He said he was considering taking “hard measures” against reporters, without specifying what that might entail, reports The Telegraph.

On Saturday, Berlusconi was accused of snubbing Merkel by turning his back on her and talking on his mobile telephone as NATO leaders gathered for a group photograph on a bridge spanning the Rhine.

As Merkel waited to receive heads of state on a red carpet, Bwerlusconi wandered off with his mobile telephone pinned to his ear.

Berlusconi later insisted he had been talking to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an attempt to convince him to drop Ankara’s objections to Danish leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen being named NATO secretary general.

Earlier at the G20 summit on Thursday in London, Berlusconi boisterously shouted a greeting to US President Barack Obama during a photo shoot, apparently earning a rebuke from the Queen, who turned round in apparent annoyance and said: “Why does he have to shout?”

An exasperated and angry Berlusconi said he was fed up with the way the media treated him and threatened a news blackout.

“I will no longer talk to you. I am working for Italy while you work against it. I will no longer give news conferences. Enough with this. Go to the devil! This is slander towards me and disinformation to newspaper readers,” Berlusconi was quoted, as saying.

“The Italian press, with their stories of my gaffes, harm the reputation of Italy. The story of my gaffe with Queen Elizabeth is absurd. And now the same thing with Mrs Merkel. I said to her ‘I’m talking to Erdogan’ and she said ‘Go ahead, go ahead’. The Italian press seems to have no other objective than to say that I made bad impressions or gaffes,” he added.

The president of an Italian journalists’ union, Roberto Natale, described Berlusconi’s remarks as “words of an unprecedented seriousness”.

The National Press Federation’s secretary, Franco Siddi, said: “When journalists report on the basis of observed facts, they are doing their duty. They cannot be accused of disloyalty or, worse than that, slander.” (ANI)

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