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SMEAR CAMPAIGNS

Starting in 2003, a media smear campaign was started, intended to affect the image of politician and university professor Nicolae Mischie, without giving him the right to respond, a right guaranteed by any code of ethics. These allegations, which were promoted excessively, became axioms in the local press, and they were later covered by the national media.

At least three wrong assumptions were publicised in the media, in a systematic fashion, about Nicolae Mischie:

  • he is a local baron
  • he is corrupt
  • he must be convicted

Why? Since 2003, following a well-mounted campaign, Nicolae Mischie was supposed to leave politics gradually, because his interests and the fact that he advocated to maintain the autonomy of Gorj County contradicted the opinions of other party members and of members of the opposition.

This marked the beginning of one of the most influential media campaigns in Romania, which contradicted every principle of ethical journalism, by setting up the “Impact in Gorj” local newspaper, a newspaper funded to lead a smear campaign directed at Mischie, publishing daily, on the front page, accusations aimed at Mischie and being distributed to the inhabitants of Gorj County. ”Impact in Gorj” was founded in 2003 as a weekly newspaper, and later became a daily newspaper. One of the shareholders was George Bigelow, the American associate of denouncer Clement Mocanu, in SC ARC SA. Towards the end of 2003, but in particular starting in 2004, the newspaper started the deliberate media lynching of Nicolae Mischie. It published, almost daily, articles denigrating Nicolae Mischie and sometimes persons from the judiciary system who weren’t condemning Mischie, as it was strongly suggested by the newspaper. This newspaper managed to publish these negative articles against Nicolae Mischie, obtaining sponsorships, unlike other publications; one of the most notable sponsorships was granted by the National Lignite Company of Oltenia (CNLO). Each employee working on the NLCO platforms in Rovinari and Turceni received this newspaper every day, for free.

They talked about Mischie calling him a “local baron” – a generic term used by newspapers to refer to persons serving prominent public functions at the local level (city or county level), who use their power to obtain unfair advantages.

  • Nicolae Mischie did not hold one, but several such public offices, but he was elected by the citizens, not appointed politically. The truth of the first part of the definition can be proved. In contrast, there is no evidence supporting the claim that Nicolae Mischie had ever obtained unfair advantages. His property, the amount of money in his account are entirely justifiable.

It was said that Nicolae Mischie has amassed an immense fortune.

  • NM has inherited a house in Tg-Jiu, a renovated family home in his native village of Godinesti and an apartment in Bucharest. He doesn’t own property that he cannot justify and he is not a businessman.

The local press speculated that NM owns many luxury cars.

  • Nicolae Mischie owns a 1998 Ford Focus and an old ARO vehicle that he is very fond of.

The press alleged that he was arrogant.

  • During his mandate, Nicolae Mischie received in audience, daily, dozens of people (this can be proven statistically), trying to help, as much as possible, as many people who were facing problems as possible. During his mandate, he was very popular until the beginning of the smear campaigns whose only purpose was to remove him from politics.

Through media manipulation, it was alleged that Nicolae Mischie was corrupt and that earned him countless accusations of criminal behaviours without any basis in reality – that he was involved in arms trafficking, influence peddling, abuse of office, bribery, and influence peddling. These serious accusations irreparably damaged his image, and they were mentioned in case files that had many procedural flaws, which were later uncovered by ECHR.

Mischie did not abuse the offices held from 1990 to 2004. It is one of the reasons for which he was one of most popular politicians in Gorj County, and why he held his office for so long, his contribution being acknowledge both locally and internationally.


CURRENT PRESS

 

Despite the fact that Nicolae Mischie was almost never granted the right of reply (the ratio of smear campaign articles to instances where he was given the right of reply is of 10/1), such articles continued to appear in the media, many of them being just undocumented “copy/paste” actions, totally lacking in terms of evidence, for a decade, thus constituting a true and deliberate media lynching.

After 11 years of repetitive false accusations and given the lack of political and financial interest of 2004, the local media began to report the actual and beneficial activities conducted by Mischie.

Here is one of these rare instances, reproduced verbatim below:

ANTENA3: “ECHR – a historic ruling for Romanian justice. Acquitted parties may not be convicted in appeal proceedings in the absence of new evidence. “

The information was submitted on Monday, 13th October 2014, on the show “100 de minute”, on Antena 3.

“The European Court of Human Rights ordered Romania to pay damages amounting to EUR 3,000 to Nicolae Mischie, stating that the High Court of Cassation and Justice did not ensure that the former Chairman of the Gorj County Council be given a fair trial.
 
In the ruling given on the 16th September 2014 in the case Mischie vs. The Strasbourg Court sharply criticised the High Court of Cassation and Justice for having issued a one-year suspended sentence to be served by Nicolae Mischie without new evidence, but by reinterpreting the same rules of evidence based on which lower courts had issued rulings for acquittal. The High Court proceeded to a new interpretation of the statements of witnesses that it had not heard. Thus, it overturned the rulings of the lower courts that had acquitted the Plaintiff based on the testimonies given by these witnesses before them, during the hearings.
 
Since the analysis of the evidence was conducted by the court of appeal, it should be noted that the Plaintiff was convicted based on the same evidence that had been deemed sufficient by the lower courts to doubt the allegations and substantiate his acquittal. In these circumstances, the High Court’s failure to hear these witnesses before convicting the Plaintiff significantly lowered his right to defend himself. The ECHR notes, first of all, that the High Court of Cassation and Justice has heard the Plaintiff in person, but that it had convicted him without hearing again the witnesses heard at the trial court stage, whose testimonies led to his acquittal. (…)”