Another stage of the dispute between Law and Justice politicians and the new ruling coalition is underway. This time it’s about the Polish Press Agency. The unquestionable values at stake are freedom of speech and access to reliable information. It was allegedly in their defense that PiS MPs forcibly entered the PAP headquarters. To ensure security, the new president of the Agency hired two additional security companies. However, this did not discourage the MPs and they announce that they are ready to spend the holidays there.
PiS MPs are protesting against the presence of security, who were summoned to the building of the Polish Press Agency by the new president, appointed by the Minister of Culture and Heritage. PiS does not recognize this nomination, which is why it is the third day of parliamentary intervention at the PAP headquarters.
– It causes great difficulties and destabilizes the work of the agency, which is what our employees complained about – it is difficult to perform their duties in such an atmosphere and with so many people, so we have taken actions to stabilize this situation – said Marek Błoński, the new president of Polska Press Agency.
Former and current PAP journalists issued a position in which they directly support activities restoring the standards of professional journalism, from which the Agency has drastically moved away in recent years. They declare that they want to work without censorship and pressure from political officers, and they also protest against the presence of MPs of any stripe at the PAP headquarters if it is not for the purpose of giving an interview, but for political struggle and building political capital.
– The press agency has always been a model from Sevres when it comes to obtaining information that can then be processed, expanded, commented on, and which, above all, reaches the editorial office quickly. If the information there is edited unreliably, then this unreliability will spread to the world – emphasizes Dr. Krzysztof Grzegorzewski from the Department of Journalism and Social Communication at the University of Łódź.
The Minister of Culture and National Heritage appointed Marek Błoński to replace the current president of the Polish Press Agency, Wojciech Surmacz. – Since the establishment of the National Media Council and the removal of the competences of the National Radio and Television Broadcasting, we have no public media, we have PiS media – says Marek Sawicki, senior marshal, MP of the Polish People’s Party.
Behind the scenes of work at PAP
The former president of the Polish Press Agency, Wojciech Surmacz, according to leaked e-mails from Michał Dworczyk’s mailbox, allegedly corresponded many times with the Prime Minister and the head of his office about what information to include in dispatches and how to help the image of Mateusz Morawiecki’s government.
“Wojtek – could you arrange for a clever journalist to conduct a very urgent interview with the president regarding the Fund – the narrative is ready, you just need to put it all nicely and punctuate it with questions” – said the e-mail from Mateusz Morawiecki. In response, the then president of PAP replied: “We are working. The questions are already ready, they will go to Błażej Spychalski (the president’s spokesman at that time – ed.), and I am sending them to Mariusz Chłopik.”
– Law and Justice knows that if the government media one day become real public media, support for PiS will no longer be 30 or so percent, but a dozen or so percent, which is why they are fighting for it as if for their independence – says Left MP Tomasz Trela .
PiS MPs have been present at the headquarters of the Polish Press Agency on a rotational basis since Wednesday, and they do not recognize the new PAP authorities. – I think that we have gained serious knowledge about how highly illegal what has been undertaken here is – says PiS president Jarosław Kaczyński.
PiS politicians are ready for various scenarios. – We are preparing to stay with our friends throughout the holidays, this is how we will spend it here, but unfortunately the situation forces us to do so, there are moments when we have to do this – says Waldemar Buda, an MP from Law and Justice. – Occupying or conducting other forms of demonstration – and PiS politicians are alone in this case, because no additional emotions accompany these events – is a road to nowhere – emphasizes Andrzej Halicki, MEP of the Civic Coalition.
Photo from TVN24’s “director room”.
Politicians from the government coalition stipulate that media issues will be resolved by statute, and current decisions can be appealed against. – The constitution allows us to defend the constitution (…), whoever finds no anchor or rope in the constitution, but will find a lifesaving thread and will therefore cling to this thread. And it happened here, in our conditions – emphasizes Prof. Ewa Łętowska, retired judge of the Constitutional Tribunal.
PiS MPs are also still on duty in the TVP building. After a wave of criticism caused by a photo of PiS MP Joanna Lichocka in the TVP Info control room, Marcin Przydacz shared the photo online, writing that he was in the “TVN24 control room”. He was not. – I took a photo at the entrance to the studio, just like you take the same photo when entering the TVP Info studio, exactly the same entrance – says the Law and Justice MP.
The place where Przydacz took the photo is the graphics station of the TVN24 virtual studio. The MP made it before Radomir Wit’s program, incorrectly calling this place the TVN24 control room. The TVN24 control room is located further away from this place and that is where the publishers, producers, vision and sound engineers, i.e. everyone who is responsible for the substantive and technical content of the program, are located. No outsider has access to the control room, especially no politician, regardless of his political affiliation.
Main photo source: PAP/Szymon Pulcyn