Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi blamed the media for Italy's credit downgrade from Standard & Poor Monday. Italians, having heard it before, took to the Internet to make fun of his comments.
As Standard & Poor has decided to further downgrade the economic outlook for Italy, the country's Web users are busy at poking jokes at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his predictable reaction to the downgrade itself, which he dismissed as “politically motivated.” Oddly enough for a media tycoon who owns three of Italy's six major TV networks and two Italian newspapers, Mr. Berlusconi also blamed the lowered rating on “the media.”
Late Monday, Standard & Poor cut Italy's credit rating by one notch, to A from A+, in light of what it sees as the country's weakening economic growth prospects and higher-than-expected levels of government debt. The credit rating agency cited Berlusconi's "fragile" coalition and institutional deadlocks that have blocked reforms in saying it believed Italy was vulnerable to heightened risks.
But within hours of Berlusconi's response, #silviodimettiti, or "Silvio Go Home," was the leading hashtag on Twitter in Italy. “Blame it on the media,” or #colpadeimedia, was also a popular trend, as many Web activists poked jokes on the flamboyant prime minister's habit of blaming everything on “the media” and, alternatively, on “the communists."
The “Twitter consensus” is that if Italy's poor economic forecast can be blamed on the media, then everything can: “It's raining, blame it on the media” (@Lucabeccattini), “My throat hurts, blame it on the media” (@ClaudioPiazzi), “Trains are late, blame it on the media” (@CristianaRaffa), “Should I fail my final, blame it on the media” (@stiperoc), and so on.
Although this time, Berlusconi had not yet put the blame on his other favorite scapegoat, “the communists,” many of his Twitter mockers did. “I knew S&P was full of communists,” writes Emanuele Rossi, or @danenblog. “So it's not just the judges, now also rating agencies are full of commies,” says Emanuele Cardinali (@emanuele139). Berlusconi, who is currently involved into two separate trials about call girls, has often blamed judges of being communist sympathizers – he has even created the “toghe rosse,” or red gowns, epithet for them.