Dorota Bawołek, a respected Brussels journalist, has been the target of hundreds of insulting and threatening messages on social media, after state-controlled Polish TV said she asked the European Commission politically motivated questions with intent “to harm Poland”.
At the Commission’s midday briefing last Thursday (13 July), Dorota Bawołek, Brussels correspondent for Polsat, a private and independent Polish TV channel since 2008, asked the Commission’s spokesperson for a reaction on Poland’s declining democracy.
On that day, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party published a bill, stipulating that he current Supreme Court judges will be forced to retire, with the exception of those indicated by the justice minister, who would also be responsible for selecting candidates to succeed the retired judges.
The bill adds that if the chief justice of the Supreme Court retires, “his duties and powers will be passed on to the court justice designated by the justice minister”. The opposition immediately denounced the tabling of the bill as an “announcement of a coup”.
As Bawołek did not obtain a reaction, she asked a follow-up question, expressing her amazement that on that day, the EU executive was more eager to make statements on the UK, a country leaving the Union, rather than Poland, “a country that is a member, and maybe, if you don’t comment things like that, will follow also and leave the EU”.
State-controlled television TVP, which has become a mouthpiece for PiS, released a video,in which it called Bawołek’s questions “provocations”, adding that the Commission did not take the bait.
It released a commentary by Dominik Zdort, presented as a “publicist”, who said that such questions were purely political, that Bawołek attempted to manipulate the Commission and that the professional standards of Polsat had become “inadmissible”.
The TVP coverage unleashed hundreds of messages on Twitter in which the Polsat correspondent was tagged and in which she has been called “snitch”, “anti-Polish manipulator”, “stupid”, “neo-Marxist” and “prostitute”, while her media Polsat was called “political annex to PO”, the opposition Civic Platform.
EURACTIV has seen dozens of insulting messages but will not republish any of them.
Reports in Poland overflow with insulting comments and calls have been made to ban Polsat and even to “establish a list of traitors”.
The independent TV provider has been labelled a “nest of left-wing communists” and accused of “treachery to the Polish nation”. Bawołek is called “of Bolshevik origin”, “surely her father was a Soviet stooge”.
EURACTIV contacted Dorota Bawołek, but she said she was too disgusted to comment, while attempts to contact a Polsat editor by email have so far not yielded a reply.