Documentary was too negative – Persson

Former Prime Minister Göran Persson has slammed a television documentary about his time in power as an example of the media's "clipping" of politics.

He said that his thoughts about his colleagues and opponents were edited so that only his negative views were shown.

Persson, writing in Svenska Dagbladet, was commenting for the first time on the SVT documentary Ordförande Persson (Chairman Persson), which was broadcast in the last two weeks.

In the television series, Persson’s comments on politicians both in his Social Democratic Party and his rival parties caused controversy. Among those to get a tongue-lashing were former Left Party Leader Gudrun Schyman, Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, and ex-minister and current Social Democrat Party leader Mona Sahlin.

Persson complained that his comments on people’s strengths and weaknesses had been “almost entirely been clipped so that only the negative is shown.”

“SVT has given the picture it wanted to give. The programme has been enjoyed by many people I have met. but it was not my own picture of what happened, and it was not my selection of material,” Persson wrote.

The way SVT handled the editing of the documentary was an example of the “media’s clipping of politics”, he said.

Persson also said that his views were portrayed as untruths in cases where word stood against word. He mentions a lunch at the prime ministerial residence in 2000 Gudrun Schyman, according to Persson, made a scene.

“In this case, [former Christian Democrat leader] Alf Svensson was portrayed as the media’s witness of truth – a person who was not even there.”

Despite his criticisms of the documentary, Persson does not give the impression of regretting any of his statements or appear to wish that he had not agreed to participate.

“I stand by my views and I, if anyone, know what it means to be examined, commented upon and criticized harshly and mercilessly,” he said.

He said he did not participate in the documentary to provide material for his obituary, but rather to provide important informations about why Sweden has developed in the way it has.