A Quick Reply to Mr Mathe
It is perhaps a bit pointless to reply to the criticism of Mr Mathe after we have both seemingly said all we want to say on the issue, but I feel a few words are in order.
Mr Mathe's criticism begins with an incredible list of things he doesn't feel able to criticise me for, so I feel I should do the same. I cannot say first-hand exactly what Czech TV was like during the Mathe years, but I think my criticism was fair. In fact, I thought I had actually complimented Mr Mathe for helping to turn CT from a one party station to a multi-party station. The point of my comments on that period was not to comment on the work of Mr Mathe, who I never actually mentioned by name because my article was primarily concerned with the newsroom while Mr Mathe's responsibility covered the entire station, but to look at what Puchalsky's and Kytka's proposed reforms of the news were meant to achieve and to offer my view on why they failed.
Obviously, Puchalsky won the competition for the director's chair of CT on the basis of a reform programme, and like any reform programme, his proposal was critical of certain aspects of the regime which preceded it. Kytka and I signed on to Puchalsky's ideas, and that meant that we were from the outset opposed to various aspects of the system under Mathe. Enough has already been written about this. Suffice it to say that I never actually blamed Mathe for the regime in the newsroom. That he defends his work is logical, but it is also clear that when the Council accepted Puchalsky's plan, they were openly admitting that change was essential.
A few brief points. Linguistically, "all-round" coverage of the news ("versatile" is laughable in this context, and no one would wish it as it implies a pliant subservience) is essentially the same as "multi- party" or "all-party". There is a key difference between showing every party's side of the news and showing no party's side of the news. It is the difference between being a universal mouthpiece and being an critical analyst. I think the concepts "vsestrannost" and "nestrannost" are different ("all-sided" and "no-sided" would be the most precise translations into English if they were English words). If I made a linguistic mistake, I would welcome a third party to explain it to us. In any case, the point of my argument remains completely valid: CT was not and is not independent of party influence.
It would be much more interesting if Mr Mathe would comment on some of the articles that have been in BL lately about the regular blackmailing of shows like 21 by various politicians and ministries. During my brief period at CT (in which I do not claim to have made anything absolutely perfect - I was still learning to be sure), I was at least able to document actual cases of such unscrupulous practices. Ota Cerny in his recently published memoirs also mentions this activity. I would like to know if Mr Mathe, in his many years of leading CT, also has compiled such a list and if he would be willing to share it with the public. Perhaps by publicly comparing notes, we could actually help to improve the position of CT news.
To defend myself against the personal attacks in Mr Mathe's article: Although I have written well over one hundred articles in the Czech press, Mr Mathe seems to recall only those I wrote about the President's unjustifiable side-lining of certain democratically elected parties. The fact that the Castle was openly promoting a back- tracking of this isolation policy after the recent elections probably means that my ideas are not so radical as was once thought (see my article "The Great Shift" a few weeks ago). For someone to try to paint me as a friend of Republicans and Communists is rather absurd and bordering on the primitive. Read the articles, and judge for yourself.