Until a few years ago, hardly anyone in Italy knew Andrea Giambruno (42). The partner of Giorgia Meloni and father of their daughter Ginevra is a journalist at Mediaset, the media group of the late Silvio Berlusconi. In an interview in 2016, Giambruno said that he did not like the spotlight and preferred to give himself a role behind the scenes.
But since Meloni has become Prime Minister of Italy, the Italian ‘first man’ has certainly come to the fore, and how. On Rete 4, one of the commercial Berlusconi channels, he presents a debate program that comments on current political events – which has already attracted heavy criticism of a conflict of interest. Moreover, ‘Mr. Meloni’ regularly turns out to be a source of news himself with his controversial statements.
It happened again on Monday, when Giambruno opened the debate with his guests about two recent gang rapes that are causing enormous commotion in Italy.
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In Caivano, a deprived neighborhood in Naples, one group of fifteen boys suspected of abusing two nieces aged ten and twelve for months. Prime Minister Meloni will visit the district on Thursday and promises strict measures to tackle the backlog. And earlier this summer in Palermo, Sicily, there is a nineteen-year-old girl raped by a group of young men. The young woman had drunk some cocktails during a night out, but an accomplice deliberately got her so drunk that she could no longer stand on her legs.
Storm of criticism
“Of course it is your right to get drunk when you go out, but if you don’t get drunk, you don’t run the risk of meeting the wolf,” Giambruno said during his television show. He was then accused of ‘victim blaming’ and faced a storm of criticism on social media.
The Italian opposition also fired lively. “How difficult it turns out not to blame women,” responded Cecilia D’Elia, senator of the center-left opposition party Partito Democratico, and vice-chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Femicide in Italy. “In the end, the woman and her lifestyle are always judged. That is no longer acceptable. My message to Giambruno is that boys should be taught respect during their upbringing, and not girls should be urged to be careful every time.”
Both the Partito Democratico and the Five Star Movement asked Prime Minister Meloni from the opposition benches to distance herself from her partner’s statement. But the Italian Prime Minister left it to him to respond in the Italian media.
Andrea Giambruno says he has never suggested that “women seek it out for themselves” and speaks of defamatory allegations against him in the Italian press. He does say that it is his right to point out the dangers of alcohol and drugs to young people – boys and girls. And as for girls, “I will continue to urge them to be careful, just as their own mothers always will be.”
However, not for the first time, Andrea Giambruno has been caught making a striking statement. The quality newspaper The print from Turin already compares him to “Prince Philip, the husband of the British Queen Elizabeth, who also regularly blundered, which could cause a political problem.” The same newspaper also recalls that Giambruno’s statement is reminiscent of what the arch-conservative Jorge Buxadé, MEP for the far-right Spanish Vox, said a few years ago: “We don’t want women to go home drunk and alone.”
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Earlier this summer, Giambruno was also accused by critics of being a climate denier when, in response to the extreme heat with temperatures above 40 degrees, he said with a laugh that “it is simply warm in July, just as it usually is.” snow in December. So much for the news.”
That mocking tone is part of the style of Rete 4, where presenters often do not mince their words. But Giambruno went a little further than that when he slammed the German Health Minister for expressing concern about the heat. Karl Lauterbach, who was on holiday in Italy, had noted that global warming may soon make holidays in the south impossible. “Then why don’t you just stay at home?” Giambruno said on Italian TV. “You’re in a good place there, aren’t you, in the Black Forest?” As for the Germans, Giambruno felt it necessary to add that “for twenty or thirty years they have wanted to tell us how we should live here in Italy. And yet Merkel keeps coming here, and they all come. If you don’t like it, don’t come.”