Italian television is controlled at 90% by Berlusconi himself: he owns half of the networks, and influences the directors of the other half, which are nominated by the government he leads. So it is maybe not too much of a surprise that the most recent news about the parties at Palazzo Grazioli, institutional residence of the Italian Premier, have been neglected by Rai 1 and Rai 2, not to mention Berlusconi's own Canale 5, Italia 1, and Rete 4.
So you, dear reader, are in a privileged situation to judge the events, since you need not rely on newspapers that, in the words of Berlusconi himself, act along an "eversive plan".
Repubblica, Il Corriere Della Sera, and the other Italian newspapers who have unveiled details on the night of pleasure of Berlusconi with top-class escort Patrizia D'Addario, are acting to "subvert the will of voters", but foreign newspapers should probably be considered neutral in this respect. So here is a list of pieces on foreign newspapers in English, which describe the events in a more objective way than the eversive Italian newspapers. Before you browse the list, I have better explain succintly the succession of events.
An executive summary
- In May, Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario expressed contempt with the choice of his husband to choose as candidates for European Parliament elections young attractive women who just had some experience of TV appearance. Berlusconi took a few of those off his party's lists, but then denied having made those choices himself;
- Later, a scandal arose over Noemi Letizia, a 18 years old girl whom Berlusconi visited during her birthday party. According to witnesses, she had been contacted by him by phone -not yet 18 years old- and then invited to Berlusconi's villa in Sardinia and to other parties. Berlusconi gave inconsistent explanations of her acquaintance with the girl.
- Soon thereafter came the declaration of Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario of filing for divorce. She declared that her husband "is a sick man" and he "seeks the company of underage girls".
- Pictures of parties at Berlusconi's villa in Sardinia showed scores of girls in topless, naked guests in evident state of arousal, and other amenities. Some pictures were confiscated, but a few were published in Spain.
- Some of the guests to Berlusconi's parties in Sardinia were proven by the pictures to have flown there on state-owned aircraft. Judges investigated the premier for abuse of state vehicles.
- Other parties held in Berlusconi's residence in Rome were the subject of investigations because of tapes and pictures provided by Patrizia D'Addario to judges. D'Addario is a top-class escort, and she declared she had paid sex with Berlusconi, who denied. Other witnesses confirmed D'Addario's version, which is born by evidence in tapes and pictures.
- It is suggested that parties held by the Italian premier usually include scores of girls (many speaking with eastern european accent) paid to attend and please the guests. On this issue, investigations are ongoing.
A final disclaimer before you get the links to newspaper clips: I am no moralist -I think that prostitution should be legalized in a civilized country. However, I believe a country cannot be represented by a womanizer. It is bad for women, it is bad for politics, it makes him blackmailable. I sincerely hope he resigns and spares Italy the embarassment.
The Times, May 16th: "Silvio Berlusconi made to pau for mystery links to Noemi Letizia, 18"
Had he been Craxi's driver, as Mr Berlusconi claimed? "No." So why had Mr Berlusconi said this, when it could be -and swiftly was- disproved by those who were close to Craxi, including his son, Bobo Craxi, also a politician?" Things are often attributed to Berlusconi which he never said." But he said it on April 29, at 16:34, to Ansa, the Italian news agency, I tell him. A shrug, a handshake, and a smile.
Despite the cosy Chi photos, Noemi's father has lived apart from his wife and daughter for more than two years. Mr Berlusconi's gift to Noemi -a 6,000 euro pendant- was supposedly an impromptu gift during an impromptu detour to her party; but the photographer Pasquale Cerullo, who was there, said that security agents had checked the venue in the morning. "Everyone knew he was coming, even the cleaning ladies," he said.
The Times, May 18th: "Public Duty and Private Vendetta":
Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, complains that he is a victim of defamation. He has rounded on La Repubblica after the newspaper challenged him to explain his relationship with an 18-year-old aspiring model, Noemi Letizia, who addresses him as "Daddy". According to Mr Berlusconi, this is a left-wing plot to undermine his authority.
Mr Berlusconi's complaint is blustering nonsense. He has invited derision by his promotion as candidates in the European elections of young women whose personal glamour exceeds their political knowledge. This latest stunt has provoked his longsuffering wife to demand a divorce. The questions posed by La Repubblica - about Mr Berlusconi's involvement in the selection of candidates, and whether he has promised to assist Ms Letizia in a political or showbusiness career- are not an intrusion into private life. They relate to Mr Berlusconi's public roles as politician and media magnate.
The Huffington Post, May 20th: "Mr Berlusconi, Why You Don't Answer the Press?":
There is a topic in Italy which is beginning to interest the rest of the world: the President of the Council of Minister's proclivity to lie to the public. Furthermore, when he is asked about uncomfortable truths, he not only continues to lie or refuses to answer, but also vehemently counterattacks the press who dared to ask him certain questions.
The Guardian, May 23rd: "In praise of ... La Repubblica":
Despite menacing noises from Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's leading centre-left daily has refused to stop demanding answers to 10 questions put to him over his relationship with a Neapolitan teenager, Noemi Letizia. No other democratic leader could have got away with ignoring the questions surrounding this friendship in the way Mr Berlusconi has. His explanation of how he befriended the Letizia family does not hold water...
The Observer, May 24th: How one newspaper's 'shameful' questions have rattled Silvio Berlusconi:
Pressure grew last week when it emerged that Berlusconi had brought Letizia to a government dinner in Rome in November honouring the fashion industry, where he sat her at the top table alongside Santo Versace, Paolo Zegna and Leonardo Ferragamo, introducing her as "the daughter of very good friends in Naples", La Repubblica reported.
Mauro commented: "This emerged after Berlusconi said he had only ever met Noemi in the company of her parents. After the dinner, Letizia jetted to Milan for an audition as a weather girl on one of Berlusconi's channels, missing out on a job only because of her poor diction.
Financial Times, May 26th Baleful influence of Burlesque cronies:
The real dangers lie elsewhere. Over the 15 years of his political career – always as prime minister, or as leader of the opposition – he has had a largely untrammelled opportunity to shift the national mood rightwards. This he has done not by crude propaganda but by a steady concentration on glitz, glitter and girls and a hyperbolic style of media-geared rhetoric that sees all opposition as communist and himself as a victim.
Now, as hard questions are posed on his relationship with a teenage would-be starlet – first raised by his wife – he has turned on the most obstinate questioner, the left-of-centre daily La Repubblica, issued a veiled threat through an associate and sought to render the questions invalid because politically tainted.
ABC, May 26th: Did Berlusconi Have an Affair With Teenage Model?:
Noemi's former boyfriend, Gino Flaminio, told newspapers that he was in the room on numerous occasions when Berlusconi had telephoned -long before her 18th birthday and that many meetings between the two had been arranged, including the New Year's party at Berlusconi's home in Sardinia. Flaminio is quoted as saying that Berlusconi repeatedly called Noemi on her cell phone, at first without introducing himself, asking her about her school results and calling her "an angel."
Reuters, May 26th: Italy riveted by saga of Berlusconi and teenager: Letizia, whose 18th birthday party Berlusconi attended in Naples last month, is at the center of a messy divorce suit by his wife Veronica Lario.
Berlusconi, accused by Lario of "frequenting minors," insists nothing improper happened between him and the teenager who refers to him as "papi" (Daddy).
The Independent, May 27th: Could a teenage girl topple Berlusconi?:
She calls him 'daddy'. He bought her a £6,000 necklace for her 18th. Silvio Berlusconi's relationship with Noemi Letizia has already seen his wife file for divorce. Now, could it cost him his grip on power?
Christian Science Monitor, May 28th: As Italy prepares to host G-8 summit, Berlusconi mired in personal scandal:
Thursday Berlusconi took a new tack - issuing a statement saying that he's previously clarified there was nothing wrong with the relationship. If someone asked if he had a "spicy or more than spicy" relationship with a minor, his answer would be "absolutely not." He reportedly added that if he lied about the relationship, "I would have to resign a minute later."
The Guardian, May 29th: You can tell how much trouble Berlusconi is in -the Blairs are distancing themselves from him:
A contributory factor in Cherie's change of mood could have been the dreadful publicity that her best-ever holiday destination has recently attracted. For it was at Berlusconi's Villa Certosa - his private 90-acre theme park complete with a fake volcano, cacti transplanted from the desert, and seven swimming-pools - that the then 17-year-old Noemi Letizia, the young woman at the heart of his present trouble, spent her last new year holiday. This was revealed in an interview with the left-leaning newspaper La Repubblica this week by Letizia's boyfriend at the time, a young Neapolitan called Gino Flaminio.
Time, May 29th: Berlusconi and the Girl: No Spice, Thank You:
"Is there anyone who has any questions about underage females?" Not the typical way for the leader of a G-8 nation to begin a formal news conference. But this is Italy in the age of Silvio Berlusconi, the land of a flamboyant billionaire Prime Minister whose ambiguous relationship with an 18-year-old aspiring showgirl has dominated public debate for most of the month of May. Welcome to springtime in Berlusconistan.
The New York Times, May 29th: Newspaper Presses Berlusconi to Answer Questions About Young Friend:
Ms. Letizia told the Italian media that she would like to be on television, or perhaps run for office. Footage from Italian television, included in a report by Britain’s Channel 4 News this week (embedded below), illustrates that there is a very thin line between entertainment and politics in Mr. Berlusconi’s Italy. The country’s most popular television program, on a channel owned by Mr. Berlusconi, is a news review that features dancing girls in bikinis.
The New York Times, May 29th: Prime Minister's Escapades Finally Raise Eyebrows:
First came a rare and inescapable torrent of speculation — in blogs, on television and radio, at dinner tables across Italy — about the nature and origins of his relationship with Noemi Letizia, a pretty blond aspiring model whose 18th birthday party he attended in Naples last month, and who has said she calls him Daddy. This was the party that caused Mr. Berlusconi’s wife to declare their marriage, one year older than Ms. Letizia, over.
More recent are allegations, potentially more damaging, that Mr. Berlusconi, 72, invited Ms. Letizia and about 40 other girls, some like her at the time younger than 18, to spend New Year’s Eve at one of his villas in Sardinia.
Financial Times, June 1st: Berlusconi's wave of gossip leaves bad news in its wake:
The drip-drip of spicy revelations involving Silvio Berlusconi and beautiful young women has enlivened an otherwise routine election campaign, with the Italian prime minister's centre-right coalition doing its own bit to stoke the fires of scandal.
The Times, June 1st: The Clown's Mask Slips:
Berlusconi must answer allegations of womanising and questions about inappropriate behaviour. The quality of government is a not a private matter
Open Democraxy, June 1st: Silvio Berlusconi: ten more questions:
During the last few weeks you have denied being directly involved in the selection of TV showgirls as parliamentary candidates for your party, even though your own newspaper Il Giornale has admitted as much. Can you clarify whether you have or you have not?
The Times, June 2nd: Silvio Berlusconi supporters counter allegations over Noemi Letizia:
Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi were accused yesterday of starting a media campaign to discredit individuals who have spoken out about the Prime Minister’s relationship with an aspiring teenage model
The Times, June 3rd: 'Papi' was codename for Silvio Berlusconi, women party guests say:
Television presenters, actresses and showgirls who were regular guests at Silvio Berlusconi’s Sardinian villa have said that they called him Papi, or Daddy, as a codename in case their telephones were being tapped, according to the first accounts from guests at the infamous New Year party
Economist, June 4th, A model and a prime minister:
The latest concerns the prime minister’s use of facilities paid for by the taxpayer. On May 30th, after a complaint by Mr Berlusconi that his privacy and that of his guests had been invaded, prosecutors in Rome impounded a collection of photographs taken outside his Sardinian villa during three parties last year, one of them attended by Ms Letizia. Mr Berlusconi’s lawyer said that among other things they showed a former Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, naked by a swimming pool.
But the prosecutors are now thinking of bringing charges against Mr Berlusconi for misuse of public funds, as the photographs show a dancer and his personal minstrel, a singer-songwriter named Mariano Apicella, leaving his official aircraft. The prime minister’s office denies that he has broken any rules, which were changed to allow unofficial passengers after Mr Berlusconi regained the job last year.
The Times, June 5th, Silvio Berlusconi attacks The Times over friendship with model:
The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, launched an attack on The Times yesterday, criticising recent articles focused on his friendship with an aspiring model.
The Independent, June 5th, Murdoch is waging a vendetta against me, says Berlusconi:
The decision by Mr Berlusconi's wife, Veronica Lario, to sue for divorce over Noemi Letizia, the 18-year-old lingerie model who calls Mr Berlusconi daddy, and his decision – which she thwarted at the last minute – to run a raft of starlets as candidates in the European election was a gift to media worldwide. But the gusto with which The Times laid into him was remarkable: a second reporter, Lucy Bannerman, was dispatched to Italy to reinforce the paper's correspondent, Richard Owen, and the paper ran harsh editorials attacking him. A line in the first editorial had a curious ring, coming from Mr Murdoch's organisation. Mr Berlusconi's attacks on independent media, the paper wrote, were "the actions of a wealthy and powerful man who treats politics and the media as fiefdoms". The most recent and damaging, published on 1 June, was headlined "The clown's mask slips".
"When The Times starts repeating this stuff, it looks like another round between Berlusconi and Murdoch," one Italian media analyst said.
The Independent, June 6th, 'Innocent' sunbathing photos irk Berlusconi:
Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, played down as "innocent" photographs published in a Spanish newspaper that show topless women and a naked man sunbathing at his seaside villa. He protested, however, that their publication invaded his privacy.
New York Times, June 6th, In Italy, Questions Are From Enemies, and That's That:
I got a call last week from an Italian friend, an investigative reporter. He had just spoken to an Italian magistrate who wanted to sound out a theory. The magistrate wondered — in all seriousness — if my recent article in The New York Times about Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s personal life could be evidence that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, envious of Mr. Berlusconi’s media empire, was using me to take down the prime minister
Brisbane Times, June 7th, It's a no vote on naked party:
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to sue the Spanish newspaper El Pais over the publication of photos that show topless women and a naked European leader during a private pool party at his summer estate
The Guardian, June 7th, Silvio, you're a saddo. Now just go away:
Like it or not, "sexual continence as a political issue" did not expire along with Bill Clinton's presidency. After all, the Italian PM is one of our most powerful European dignitaries, someone with enough influence to start or stop wars; is it too much to ask if every time you clap eyes on him the Benny Hill theme music doesn't instantly pipe up in your head? Too much to hope that the villa where he spends his "downtime" doesn't compete with the Playboy mansion for "Most pathetically cliched, middle-aged, sexual fun park"? There you go; if nothing else, Berlusconi is guilty of making Bacchanalian excess look sad.
The Times, June 13th, Photographer Antonello Zappadu warns of more embarassing pictures of Silvio Berlusconi:
The photographer who prompted an international scandal with images of topless young women bathing in Silvio Berlusconi's Sardinian villa has hinted that there are more embarrassing pictures to come - including a "mock marriage" between the Italian Prime Minister and a woman in her twenties.
The Times, June 15th, Subversives planning palace coup against me, says Silvio Berlusconi:
"There is a campaign of scandals against me. It is a subversive plan because its aim is to bring down a Prime Minister and to put in his place another not elected by Italians. If that is not subversion, tell me what is."
The New York Times, June 18th, Italy: Prime Minister Denies Reports of Female Escorts:
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has dismissed as "trash" and "false" investigations into whether female escorts were paid to attend parties at his Rome residence.
Bild.Com, June 18th, Were women paid to spend nights with Silvio Berlusconi ?:
Patrizia D'Addario claimed that she was offered €2,000 to spend a night with Berlusconi. In an interview with "Corriere de Sera" she said: "I went to his house but it was late so I went to a hotel instead and so I only got half of the payment. 1,000 instead of 2,000 euro. "But once I stayed over night. It was the night Barack Obama was elected. I have recordings to prove it." D'Addario is said to have brought a hidden camera along with her.
The Sun, June 18th, Escorts went to Berlusconi bash:
Magistrates investigating a local businessman in southern Italy on suspicion of corruption discovered he paid female escorts to go with him to dinner parties at Mr Berlusconi's house. One of the three women told magistrates she spent the night at the large, two-floor residence in part of a former palace in central Rome.
Daily Mail, June 19th, Berlusconi does not need to pay for call girls - he can get them for free, claims his lawyer:
The French news magazine L'Express revealed the comments made by Mr Chirac while on an official visit to Italy several years ago.It said he was hosted at Mr Berlusconi's villa and noticed a pile of porn magazines. He asked Mr Berlusconi why they were lying around. The Italian premier is said to have replied: "I've had her, and this one, and I’ve had that one too."
The Times, June 19th, Worst revelations about Berlusconi 'still to come':
How long can he last? Italians are asking this question of Silvio Berlusconi. His preferred answer is: for ever. Mr Berlusconi and his supporters are toughing it out, as in all previous scandals since he entered politics 15 years ago
The Times, June 19th, Showgirl Patrizia D'Addario says she shot secret video in Berlusconi's bedroom:
Patrizia D'Addario, a former model and escort girl, said that she had given prosecutors audio tapes but also had secretly recorded video footage of her encounters in the Prime Minister's Rome residence.
The Times, June 21st, One night in Silvio Berlusconi's 'harem':
Former escort girl tells of dinner party at Italian premier's home, where he showed off to female guests then took her to bed.
Daily Telegraph, June 22nd, Is the party over for Silvio Berlusconi?:
Attention is focused on a party that the prime minister held at his Rome palazzo on the evening of November 4 last year -the night of the US presidential election. A couple of days ago, one of the young women who attended the event, former Miss Italy contestant Barbara Montereale, 23, dropped a bombshell by claiming that Mr Berlusconi went to bed with another of the women in attendance, Patrizia D'Addario, 42, who was allegedly promised 2,000 euros (£1,700), and who herself claimed that when she saw the gathered women, she thought: "But this is a harem."
The Australian, June 22nd, My night with Silvio:
ON the night of Barack Obama's election as US President last November, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi threw a candlelit dinner party for three beautiful women at Palazzo Grazioli, his luxurious residence in Rome.
One of the guests, a former actress and escort girl called Patrizia D'Addario, 42, says he then asked her to stay the night. Not only that, but she claims to have taped the conversation that followed.
The Times, June 22nd, Silvio Berlusconi: the parties, the trinkets, the cash:
He has made no secret of his love of women but the sex scandal surrounding Silvio Berlusconi is now threatening to topple him, as more claims emerge of the systematic recruitment of young women paid to attend private parties at his homes in Rome and Sardinia
Daily Telegraph, June 22nd, Silvio Berlusconi's parties: Italian prosecutors to question 30 women:
Up to 30 young women will be questioned by Italian prosecutors as part of an investigation into the alleged procuring of prostitutes for parties held by the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
The Guardian, June 22nd, Silvio Berlusconi keeps smiling as sex scandal gets deeper by the day :
One of the guests already questioned – model Barbara Montereale – has alleged that a paid escort, Patrizia D'Addario, slept with the prime minister on 4 November. Yesterday, Montereale released photographs she alleges she took as souvenirs in Berlusconi's bathroom and described the large number of eastern European women she says she met during a visit to his villa in Sardinia.
"They seemed at home, were on familiar terms with the prime minister and all called him Papi," she told La Repubblica, adding that she saw the girls dressed as Father Christmas in a video shown of an earlier party. "They were a bit jealous of each other and in competition to see who could get closer [to Berlusconi]."