“Don’t lie” might not sound like a particularly controversial request.
But in this sorry age of social media-turbocharged disinformation it has a plaintive, futile ring to it.
On May 7, as President Zuzana Čaputová attempted to re-float the ship of state – beached and then rather nonchalantly abandoned by Eduard Heger in early May – she appealed to Slovak lawmakers to give the new caretaker government a fair shake.
“I want to ask all politicians, as well as other publicly active people, not to spread lies with their statements and thus not to weaken the remaining cohesion in our country. Disinformation about a progressive coup or the American embassy and other lies reflect the mental and value world of those spreading these fabrications, not mine. It is dangerous […] to spread lies and thereby question in advance the government that needs to be appointed.”
The liars doubled down, chief among them Smer party leader and former prime minister Robert Fico.
The day after her appeal, he repeated his familiar litany of slurs, foremost among them that Čaputová is an agent of the United States and that she is somehow in thrall to the Hungarian-American financier George Soros. Ľudovít Ódor, her nominee as caretaker prime minister, was, he said, “Soros’s pick”. The president is now suing Fico for his mendacious claims, citing death threats that she and her family have received from random people. These typically repeat the florid language and outlandish claims that Fico uses in his regular press conferences.