Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has been on a rampage against newspapers he doesn't own who bring up his naughty relationship with an 18-year old alleged prostitute mistress. And now his tabloid war has taken an unholy, hell-baiting turn.
Left-wing papers and tabloids have been absolutely drooling over the details of Berlusconi's private life, but it wasn't until recently that Catholic newspaper Avvenire gave into public pressure and an opinion on the salacious gossip. And did they ever! Editor Dino Boffo wrote:
People have understood the unease, the mortification, the suffering that this arrogant neglect of sobriety has caused the Catholic Church.
Perhaps Boffo thought that his association with the church would save him from Berlusconi's wrath, but even Jesus couldn't stop the prime minister.
Il Giornale, a paper owned by Berlusconi's brother, retaliated by claiming the Italian secret service was investigating Boffo's secret gay life and revealed readers that he had been named in a 2004 sexual harassment suit, which alleged he made threatening calls to his male trick's girlfriend. Those Italians sure have mastered the art of the sex scandal!
Boffo yesterday admitted that he paid a fine in the suit, although claimed that someone else had used his cell phone to make the calls. He also insists the Italian interior minister told him no gay-related investigations had ever occurred. No matter, because Boffo resigned from his post, for the "barbaric" articlel had tarnished his name and gave his family a collective headache. Perhaps it's the work of Satan?
My life, the life of my family and that of my newsroom have been violated in an act of sacrilege I would have never thought imaginable.
The fallen editor goes on to wonder what Berlusconi and his allies' newspaper war means for free press in Italy. Well, not much, for Vittorio Feltri, editor of the paper that dragged Boffo's name through the mud, said they ran printed the story "to interest public opinion and to sell newspapers." Perhaps something got lost in translation, for "interest" definitely sounds like "influence."