Beppe Grillo, founder of Italy's Five Star anti-euro movement called out American journalists for "manufacturing false news".
Grillo has exposed the leftwing, anti-Trump BuzzFeed for fabricating stories about his party.
Buzzfeed has now deleted their misleading reference to a contract signed by M5S MP’s with Casaleggio Associati, however, the news site failed to enter a note explaining that it had been a false report.
The US website stated that Grillo’s Movement had “built a sprawling network of websites and social media accounts that are spreading fake news, conspiracy theories, and pro-Kremlin stories to millions of people” after “analysis by BuzzFeed News”.
This turned out to be a complete fabrication. The elected officials of M5S in recent months, before the Italian referendum, had met hundreds of institutional figures from foreign countries, including the Russians, according to Grillo, but the Italian newspaper La Stampa and Buzzfeed omitted this small detail too to sell their conspiracy theory about the scope of Russian influence in the party.
Grillo called the charges of producing pro-Kremlin propaganda or spreading false news ridiculous.
He suggested that Buzzfeed do an article on press freedom in Italy because the country currently ranks at 77 with Reporters Without Borders and is considered only partly free.
“Newspapers and television news programmes are the biggest manufacturers of false news in the country, with the aim of ensuring those who have power keep it,” he said on his blog this week on Tuesday.
Grillo suggested “a popular jury to determine the veracity of the news published,” and added that in cases of fake news “the editor must, head bowed, make a public apology and publish the correct version at the start of the program or on the paper’s front page.”
But Italy’s media and traditional political parties were up in arms on Wednesday after the charge that they “manufacture false news”.
Grillo’s claim that journalists were to blame for the country’s poor standing on the World Press Freedom Index – where it ranks 77th – was dismissed on Wednesday by the editor in chief of the Repubblica daily.
Italy’s FNSI journalist’s union linked the jury proposal to the “lynching” of journalists. The news director of the private TG La7 channel, Enrico Mentana, said he would sue the comedian.
What Grillo is proposing “is called Fascism, and those who play it down are accomplices,” PD senator Stefano Esposito said.
Marco Travaglio, editor of the far-left Il Fatto Quotidiano daily, agreed with Grillo but said the popular jury idea would never work. “The biggest lies are those spread by the television and newspapers, but the solution he is proposing is naive,” he said.