Thursday, September 22, 2011

Latvian talk show host booted after 16 years for calling politicians "whores"

Kārlis Streips, a Latvian-American  host for Skats no malas (A View from The Sidelines), a talk show featuring local journalists, has been fired for calling the Latvia's Green and Farmer's Union political party "whores" (maukas in Latvian). Streips made the remark in his first post-election Monday evening show. He has been hosting the show, featuring himself and three Latvian journalists (in rotating, different groups) for the past 16 years.
While Streips guests have represented different political views and included both Latvian and Latvian-speaking representatives of the local Russian media, the host (who worked for local TV in the US before moving to then Soviet Latvia in the late 1980s) often ended the program by talking directly to the camera and saying what he thought about the issues under discussion -- from politics to admonishing his viewers not to drive and drink (on the Midsummer holiday).
The management of Latvian Television accused Streips of violating rules against prime-time vulgarity and a breach of good taste. However, viewers now able to turn off the Latvian voice-over on interactive cable TV can hear a stream of obscenities when watching certain American ir British films. Also, Streips "vulgarity" was political speech, not his attempt to wrap up his Monday evening show with an Eddie-Murphy style tirade.
Comments on internet portals have been generally favorable to Streips and have accused Latvian TV of political censorship. On Twitter Latvians have created a hashtag #maukas. Some observers link his firing to the resignation of Ilze Nagla, the host and a reporter of De Facto, an investigative news program, and to the failure of LTV to renew its contract with Jānis Domburs, the host of a topical current events discussion program Kas notiek Latvijā? (What's Happening in Latvia). As one observer put it, LTV has been reduced to running just straight news programs, light entertainment and reruns from its past glory.
It is rumored that Streips may be quickly hired by the private, Swedish-owned channel TV3 where several frustrated LTV journalists have gone in recent years. The fact that Streips is controversial both for his opinions and the fact that he is one of a handful of openly gay public figures in Latvia (Streips is not an activist and generally low-key about his sexual orientation). He is seen as a workaholic who also runs a radio show and teaches journalist at the University of Latvia, as well as working as a translator and English language voice-over talent on some commercial and documentary films.


Aigars Mahinovs said...

Here is a full translated transcript of what he said: "people from the Green Farmers Union party, that have been elected, that are rational people, Raimonds Vejonis and a couple others, could now finally get rid of their pimp (meaning Aivars Lembergs) and become simply a good party representing the latvian countryside, withoug being 'bitches', and I am not afraid of that word, to personal interest of one specific person person (meaning Lembergs again)"

zagarins said...

So what's so bad about calling the "green farmers" whores? Isn't whoring a traditionally honorable tactic in politics? Would Streips have gotten away with it if he had called them "strange bedfellows" instead?

Kārlis Streips said...

Strange bedfellows are the farmers and the greens being together in a single alliance. Pesticides and environmental protection -- only in this banana republic.