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Free Courts and Media

A few weeks ago, Brussels expressed its displeasure over Warsaw’s judiciary, media, and sexual issues, judging the Polish (and Hungarian) approach to them as incompatible with EU law. The Poles scoffed and dismissed the charges as contrary to the Polish Constitution. For them, it is a matter of sovereignty.

The saga continues, as Poland has passed a new law to regulate its media market with particular attention to foreign influence. The media part directly pertains to America because it is about a concession for a Polish subsidiary of the Discovery channel.

In an ongoing dispute over sovereignty, both the European Union Court of Justice (EUCJ – the EU’s supreme court in the jurisdiction of the EU law) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU – the judicial branch of the EU) ruled that Poland’s Disciplinary Chamber, a judicial watchdog to counter corruption and maleficence in the courts, is incompatible with EU legislation.

The Republic of Poland has rejected the rulings. The Polish Constitutional Tribunal has argued that, first, the verdict contradicts the Polish Constitution which is the supreme law of the land; second, the ruling falsely charges that the judicial watchdog is beholden to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, while, in reality, it is independent. It has shown independence in a number of its rulings. And it certainly is independent in comparison to Poland’s former judicial system, which was dominated by the old Communists and their liberal cronies (who never attracted the ire of the EU).

In other words, Brussels, go fly a kite. The government of Poland was democratically elected. The courts are democratic and so is the constitution. Its letter is binding for the nation.

More than a few hysterical voices presaged that Warsaw’s stance could be the end of the EU: “If the E.U. doesn’t wake up to what’s happening with Poland, it may sleepwalk into self-destruction,” thundered The Washington Post (July 16), for example.

The point is that the Europhoric elites who advance the centralizing and expansionist woke philosophy of the European integration have encountered another obstacle to their onslaught: Poland with its love of national freedom and sovereignty. So, the EU courts try to level it. Submit or else.

Should Warsaw persevere, Brussels will be in a bind. What is it going to do? Invade? If it sanctions the nation, its popularity will plunge, and “Polexit” shall beckon. The EU’s best bet is to continue backing Poland’s leftist Europhorics in the coming elections of 2023. They will most certainly kowtow to Brussels and duly introduce all changes to make Poland a clone of what Western Europe (except the UK) succumbed to a long time ago.

That the Polish are in a defiant mood is evident from yet another round of legislation that has just been passed by their Parliament (Sejm). Hitherto, Poland lacked any efficient mechanism to regulate its media market from the point of view of sovereignty. Anyone, say, the Chinese or the Russians, could set up a media company and launch a TV channel pumping their propaganda unimpeded, including, of course, fake news.

The Sejm has decided that was enough of that. It introduced a new law regulating media. Now each media company will have to have at least 20% native Polish ownership – private or public. It is congruent with the Law and Justice’s campaign to “Polonize” big corporations, including the press and TV. However, the 20% threshold is silly, for it does not guarantee control. It seems more of an incremental move on the part of the governing coalition. Thus, one should expect more adjustments to the law in the future.

Moreover, the media law further solidifies the grip of the ruling party on public TV and radio (TVP). Media outlets in government hands are little more than PiS propaganda loudspeakers. In fact, they are nauseating in their hosannas to the nation’s president, prime minister, and their teams. The shrill primitiveness and partisanship of their public media message repulse even some stalwart conservatives and nationalists.  But, as Barrack Obama put it, “elections have consequences.” Win one, and appoint your people where you want. Just ask Joe Biden.

To be sure, Poland’s public media was equally repulsive when it was run by the former liberal and leftist Civic Platform (PO) coalition. Just as with the post-Communist Polish judges, it bothered Brussels none. Only now, when the populist-nationalist-conservative coalition cabinet led by PiS runs public media is the EU bothered, along with The New York Times, and others like them.

What does it have to do with America? Well, the media law has been dubbed “Lex TVN.” And TVN is a branch of the Discovery Channel. It is alleged to have been originally set up by Soviet intelligence services. Later, it was acquired by the Americans.

Its liberal message is hardly distinguishable from the American leftist narrative. In the Polish context, it is particularly repellent and loathsome because it is perceived as a foreign media entity attacking Poland’s Christianity, patriotism, and tradition. To add insult to injury, it is done in Polish by woke hirelings. And they are much more sophisticated, better funded, and more internationally connected than the Polish public TV apparatchiks.

Poland’s leftist opposition, the EU, and the Discovery Channel have already made it about freedom of the press. Ultimately, however, it is about sovereignty. Discovery should drop its woke programming and switch to Christian and patriotic offerings. It would corner the market in Poland in no time and defeat in ratings the nation’s public TV.  But that would not be congruent with EU legislation, would it be?

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Washington, D.C., 12 August 2021

A version of this article was published by Newsmax