In attacks that have been linked to the government’s ‘barney’ with PT owners Altice, the Spanish media upped the ante over the weekend, suggesting prime minister António Costa’s “honeymoon period” is now over.
Raking over the old ground of June’s numerous political embarrassments, El Español’s Lisbon correspondent Aitor Hernandéz claims the “Portuguese miracle” of exiting the excessive deficit programme has now well and truly been overshadowed.
“The government’s prolonged honeymoon period is over”, he wrote. “The last month has been difficult for António Costa” who, he adds, now faces “major political division in the country” and the need to remodel his government.
The only aspect of this story that can be totally verified is the existence of Aitor Hernandéz.
This cannot be said about ‘Sebastião Pereira’ who wrote in El Mundo that Costa’s political career could be brought to an end over his government’s handling of Pedrógão Grande’s fires.
Repeated attempts to identify Pereira failed before his ‘employers’ came clean to say Pereira is a pseudonym used by a reporter “well known to the paper”.
But that was as far as El Mundo went.
The true identity of Sebastião Pereira remains a mystery – as is the source used by El Pais’ reporter Javier Martin, who lambasted Portugal last month in a satirical piece (click here) the true significance of which was left untackled.
The reality is that El Pais is part of the Prisa group which was recently reported as selling its share of Portugal’s Media Capital group to French communications giant Altice.
Fortunately, former Bloco de Esquerda leader Francisco Louçã has been quick to spot the skullduggery.
It is time for Portugal to “wake up” and start joining the dots (and reasons) for all the flak flying over the border, he told journalists this week.
Louçã believes much of the negative press is powered by Spain’s Partido Popular (the equivalent of Portugal’s right wing PSD).
Portugal sent its military partners a list of the stolen military material from Tancos “which was secret” and “the next day it was published in El Español”.
“A Portuguese minister commented on the case to her Spanish partner, and a smeared version of the conversation appeared in El Mundo, also on the following day.
“Once could be a suspicious slip, twice is an operation”.
As for the government’s testy relationship with Altice (click here), there appears to be a lot more to follow.
Since Costa criticised the company over communications failings during June’s killer fires, its founder has hit back, saying the government simply doesn’t see Altice’s investment in Portugal as important.
Meantime the €440 million ‘take-over’ of Media Capital – owner of TVI, TVI24, Rádio Commercial and other stations – remains ‘unconcluded’ with competitor Nos suggesting it poses “significant regulatory questions”.