On January 10, Petros Ghazaryan’s guests on the Public Television were Daniel Ioannisyan, Head of the “Union of Informed Citizens” NGO, Mher Arshakyan, Journalist of “365News” website, Ashot Melikyan, Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression (CPFE), Sosi Tatikyan, Project Coordinator at “Freedom House” in Armenia. The topic of Public Discussion was “Disinformation and its target audience.” In his speech, Petros Ghazaryan discredited human rights activists, lawyers, analysts, colleagues, and addressed the church with irony: “We have all become “more Christians”; our Church, the Catholicos, let’s defend our values.”
In his speech, Daniel Ioannisyan mentioned․ “Suppose a lie is disseminated about me on some TV according to which Daniel Ioannisyan and other Soros-related people sold Karabakh. Do I have a platform that will reach as many people as it reached in case of a lie, so that I can say that some of the founders of the same ArmNews TV company received more money from the Soros Foundation than I have ever had?” Petros Ghazaryan continued: “It is a unique case when two of the TV owners are related to Soros; one was a Soros employee, the other received a grant from Soros, and you show an anti-Soros film, how can it be? It means spitting on people’s faces.”
Then the commentator, addressing Daniel Ioannisyan, asked: “Aren’t they calling you as a guest?” Ioannisyan answered: “They haven’t called me for a long time.” The commenter continued: “I kindly invite that four of “Qaryak Media” to my program, let’s try to understand who is who in this country.” In his speech, Mher Arshakyan, journalist of “365News” website, noted: “During the war, the media terror phenomenon simply vanished, since the people were listening to the “we shall win” conviction all the time. Tert.am, in turn, scratched all those curses together, the negative is not the exact word to describe this․․.” Petros Ghazaryan interrupted: “I say the same, the opposition says, you deceived the people during the war, we will deceive you now. Well hello!”
Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression Ashot Melikyan noted: “There have also been both hate speech and insult cases by the government, the opposition has been inspired by it, in general, all the limits have been exceeded, the ordinary citizen, in turn, is watching it, and thinks it is ok for him to surf on Facebook and write even more than that. This speaks about the lack of political culture in our country, as well as about the internal hatred and ill-mannered nature of the people.” Journalistic organizations do not have those levers to have an impact; the authorities have them and first of all, they themselves must take responsibility and steps to overcome this atmosphere.”
Project Coordinator at “Freedom House” in Armenia Sosi Tatikyan noted: “During the war, we witnessed a huge amount of misinformation, which was a shock for each of us, that’s why the defeat was so painfully perceived, not to mention the absurd hashtags, “we shall win”, “we won”; there was so much contradictory information, the trust was lost.” Petros Ghazaryan mentioned: “The situation we have is an outcome, it was formed a long time ago. The institutions having financial means are the owners of our media, one day they would need to write such things. They did not have such a need to write before, now they have a need to write the word “dreg” because they see the political struggle in that logic. How can we make sure that the TV companies are not under political influence, how can we make sure that the media are not under 180, 200% political influence? It is so in our case.”
“Media Advocate” initiative considers unacceptable the public discussion of such a quality, where the commentator mocks, expresses an opinion, shows disrespect to other TV companies and media outlets, speaks about media literacy, while violating it. We record that no substantive discussion took place, no solutions were given. The commentator did not touch upon the drawbacks of the government, how it lied to the public during the war, instead he blamed everyone, starting from human rights activists to lawyers and the church.