Berlusconi’s Talk-Show Rant: Just Good Politics

My piece on Berlusconi’s talk-show call in has just been published by Time.

The caller didn’t behave the way one ordinarily does when dialing into a late-night political talk show. But then, he wasn’t an ordinary caller. “I’ve been watching a broadcast that’s disgusting, that’s being run in a way that’s despicable, vile, repugnant,” Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told host Gad Lerner during a live television show on Tuesday night. “I’ve heard theories that are distorted and far from the truth. I’ve seen a reconstruction of reality that’s the opposite of the truth.”

Lerner stood his ground but didn’t have many chances to get a word in during Berlusconi’s two-minute rant about what was being discussed on the program: the allegations that the Prime Minister had hosted elaborate sex parties at which he paid to sleep with young women, including a 17-year-old nightclub dancer. When Berlusconi insulted the show’s guests, Lerner called him “vulgar and rude.” And he responded to the Prime Minister’s attacks by referring to the ongoing court process, in which Berlusconi has refused to participate. “Why don’t you go to the judges, instead of delivering insults?” Lerner asked.

Read the rest.