The saga of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni splitting from her partner, Mediaset TV personality Andrea Giambruno, after leaked outtakes revealed the anchorman making sexist remarks, is gripping the country amid speculation of political conspiracy behind the incident.
Meloni, who became Italy’s first female prime minister a year ago when her right-wing Brothers of Italy party scored big in the country’s national elections, officially dumped Giambruno — her partner for a decade and the father of their young daughter (pictured above with Pope Francis) — last Friday via social media.
In Facebook and X posts, Meloni alerted the country that she and her partner had been split up “for some time” after Mediaset’s primetime satirical show “Striscia La Notizia” (“The News Spreads”) aired hot mic and video clip footage of Giambruno grabbing his crotch and apparently hitting on his co-anchor and another unidentified woman.
“Can I touch my package while I’m talking to you?” Giambruno was heard saying to a colleague in an outtake of the Mediaset news show “Diario del giorno” (“The Diary of the Day”). “You already did it,” the woman retorted. The anchorman then went on to suggest that he and another media personality are having an affair and looking for another participant to have group sex: “Would you like to be part of our working group?” he can be heard saying.
On Wednesday, Mediaset — which is owned by the family of late TV-tycoon and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi — announced that Giambruno was “sorry for the embarrassment and discomfort caused by his behavior,” adding that Meloni’s former partner had agreed to leave his anchor role on “Diario del giorno.” But, while some expected him to be fired, the top Italian commercial broadcaster said that Giambruno would remain on board and maintain an editorial role on the show.
The Italian press is now rife with speculation that Mediaset’s decision to leak off-the-air clips of Giambruno’s lewd behavior and feature them on its top-rated “Striscia La Notizia” show was actually a ploy orchestrated by Forza Italia, the political party led by Berlusconi until his death last June. While Forza Italia is a coalition partner in the Meloni-led government, it is also considered a rival force to her Brothers of Italy. After Meloni was elected, she and Berlusconi are known to have engaged in a power struggle during which Berlusconi pointed out that Giambruno worked for him.
These persistent rumors of political machinations behind the incident have prompted Berlusconi’s press shy daughter Marina Berlusconi, who heads Mediaset’s parent company Fininvest, to publicly speak out.
“In recent days I have read and heard all kinds of stuff: completely made up backstories and reconstructions that are totally devoid of logical sense and often even contradictory,” Berlusconi’s daughter said Wednesday on a RAI talk show. “There is only one truth: I have a lot of respect for Giorgia Meloni. I find her capable, coherent, concrete. I appreciate her on a political level and I also appreciate her very much as a woman, even more so these days,” she added.
From the Mediaset camp, the only other comment has come from Antonio Ricci, creator and chief of the “Striscia La Notizia” show, who told Italy’s official news agency ANSA that Meloni will “realize one day that I have done her a favor.”