The Washington Post runs an article by Anne Applebaum criticising the Polish government, this time over alleged attempts to crack down on the media:
The Polish authorities may have also been sending a message. For the decision was taken on the very day that the ruling party swapped its dour, angry prime minister, Beata Szydlo, for a slicker, smoother replacement, Mateusz Morawiecki.
Applebaum often writes scathing articles about the Polish government, usually in the Washington Post. Here’s another:
If an illiberal government — democratically elected, but determined to change the rules — tries to do something unconstitutional, what can the public do? What can the political opposition do? This is a dilemma we now know from several countries — Russia, Venezuela, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and possibly soon Greece.
Like every country in Europe — as well as the United States — Poland has long had a far-right, neo-fascist fringe.
What has changed? The answer has partly to do with the current populist-nationalist ruling party, Law and Justice, which welcomed and encouraged Saturday’s march as a “patriotic” action, though the party knew who was behind it.
Not a single one of these articles mentions that Applebaum is married to one Radosław Sikorski. Sikorski is best known for having been the parliamentary speaker and former minister under president Bronisław Komorowski, who was beaten in a general election in 2015 by the current president Andrzej Duda. If a journalist in a major newspaper criticises a foreign government, one would think it necessary to mention that their spouse was a senior figure in the party which lost an election to that government, wouldn’t you? Not that Sikorski was a member of the party at the time of the election, mind you. No, he had already been forced to quit in disgrace a few months before:
Three Polish ministers and the country’s parliamentary Speaker have resigned amid a row over leaked tapes.
Speaker Radek Sikorski and the health, treasury and sports ministers said they had quit for the good of the ruling centre-right Civic Platform party.
The resignations come four months before general elections, as the popularity of PM Ewa Kopacz is waning.
The officials were secretly recorded in Warsaw restaurants discussing private deals and promotions in 2013-14.
The leaks were published by the Wprost magazine, angering many Poles.
Little wonder Applebaum’s writes so bitterly about Poland these days, but her employers don’t see fit to mention any of this when giving her column space. Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.
Another conflict of interest surrounding Anne Applebaum, this time on the subject of Roman Polanski:
Applebaum’s previous disclosure of who her husband is, of course, has next to nothing to do with the question of whether she should have disclosed that her husband is lobbying the US to go easy one Roman Polanski at the same time she is writing a Washington Post column to that effect.
If a conflict exists, it isn’t sufficient to disclose it once. It must be disclosed every time it is relevant. Applebaum seems to assume that Washington Post readers make a mental catalogue of every Post reporter and columnist, their relationships, and their conflicts of interest. That anyone who ever reads anything she writes will take it upon themselves to keep a running tally of her conflicts, so she need disclose them only once. That, obviously, is not going to happen. And it displays a stunning arrogance — she thinks everyone who reads her column cares enough about her to know where her husband works.
Finally, she’s misstating the nature of what she mocks as the “secret revelation.” The criticism wasn’t that her husband is an employee of the Polish government. Nobody cares about that. It’s that her husband is a Polish government official who is currently lobbying for the very thing Applebaum is arguing in favor of. Surely she understands the difference?
The pieces in the links are worth reading in full to get a flavour of what sort of journalist Applebaum is.