Italian Journalist Rips Colleague for 'Farce' Interview With Russians

Chaos was unleashed on Italian TV when prominent journalist Alessandro Sallusti dropped out of a live show accusing fellow journalist Massimo Giletti, then acting as a correspondent from Moscow, of making propaganda for the Kremlin.

Sallusti, the director of center-right newspaper Libero, was talking to Giletti in Moscow as the Italian correspondent was standing next to Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova and pro-Kremlin TV host Vladimir Solovyov during the TV show Non è l'Arena on Sunday.

"Massimo when I heard that you were going to Moscow I felt very proud of knowing you. Initially, I thought you were going to address Russian viewers rather than Italian viewers, then I understood that this wasn't the case," Sallusti tells Giletti, who's standing in front of Moscow's Red Square.

"But I imagined you were going to speak with Putin or a top official and you were going to make us proud of our free press. Instead, as said more politely by Myrta [Merlino, their colleague], I find myself witnessing total servilism to the worst possible kind of propaganda."

Italian TV Host Massimo Giletti
Italian journalist Alessandro Sallusti ripped at Massimo Giletti (L) for interviewing pro-Kremlin TV personality Maria Zakharova (M) and TV host Vladimir Solovyov (R) without challenging their "propaganda." He then left the broadcast. Getty/Twitter

"That also employs 'useful idiots'—for example at the beginning of this program, Cacciari spoke about the prestige of the Kremlin. The palace behind you [the Kremlin], you should remind our viewers that is where the worst crimes against humanity of the 20th and 21st centuries were organized. That palace is full of s**t," the journalist says.

"You should have the courage to say to your hosts that the palace behind you is a palace full of s**t," he continues. "It makes me upset to see a journalist I respect be called 'child' and 'incompetent' by an idiot [Maria Zakharova] who doesn't know what she's talking about, because we have freedom, and we defend it."

Sallusti then ended his speech by saying he gives up on being remunerated for his role in the TV show, and leaves. "I end my participation in this farce," he says.

Giletti reportedly fell ill and dropped out of the live show, only to reappear later sitting down at an indoor location.

The controversial episode of the Italian TV show has been the subject of a storm on social media, with widespread outrage at Giletti's interview with Maria Zakharova, who repeated the Kremlin's line on the war in Ukraine and then accused Italian journalists of having been uninterested in the conflict in Donbas eight years ago.

When Giletti advocated for negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, Zakharova accused the journalist of thinking like a child. The Italian journalist then failed to contradict or object to any of the foreign minister's answers to his question.