Royal Palace of Caserta and instrumentalization: how to build a fake case around nothing

The case of the director of the Royal Palace of Caserta: a document is turned over to create a false accusation. This is how failure to verify sources leads to instrumentalization.

TheItalian public seems to be unaccustomed to source verification, that particular practice that many indicate by the anglicism fact checking and which consists, precisely, in ascertaining the veracity of certain information by going back to the sources, consulting documents to detect errors and inaccuracies. This lack of confidence is worrisome if it characterizes certain journalists who keep well away from such activity, and it takes on disturbing contours if the failure to verify sources is functional to fabricate fabricated tales that nevertheless have the inherent capacity to arouse the easy indignation of the easily impressionable masses (and unwilling to delve deeper) who will break out in a jumble of “shame!” and “wake up!” thrown randomly on social networks.

The failure to verify sources has built, in these very days, a fake case around the figure of the director of the Royal Palace of Caserta, Mauro Felicori. What happened? A number of unions (UILPA, UGL-Intesa, USB and RSU) sent a letter to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage to bring to the attention of the central organs some situations that have arisen with the installation of the new director. Summing up briefly, the unions noted, quite simply, that at the Royal Palace of Caserta they would “insist on proceeding in non-compliance with the Decree of the General Directorate for Museums, which dictates the guidelines for determining the functional areas to be established and the related administrative offices,” that the reception and supervision area would not be properly organized, that there would be a lack of definition of the hours of the individual offices, and that the director would stay in his office until late at night without communicating this to the staff, who would therefore be unable to set up a suitable guardianship service in order to allow the director to be able to work, even until late at night, in complete safety.

La Reggia di Caserta
The Royal Palace of Caserta. Photo credit

Two lines contained in the statement were enough to give the green light to instrumentalization. So here it is that a simple sentence, namely “the director remains in the structure until late at night, without anyone having communicated and arranged the service for such a stay,” was transformed, through an article that appeared in the Mattino di Napoli, signed by journalist Antonello Velardi (published last March 3 and to which the whole case would seem to remount), into a title with the completely opposite meaning: “The director works too much, puts the Royal Palace of Caserta at risk.” The untrue accusation was enough for Premier Matteo Renzi to write a post on his Facebook page, in which the phrase “this director works too much. This is not good” was even quoted and referred to as a “cry of alarm raised against the new director of the Royal Palace of Caserta.” Superfluous to specify how a disproportionate number of newspapers, magazines, and online journals completely overturned the meaning of the original document and instead embraced the lying and instrumental interpretation made by Matteo Renzi.

The truth is that there is not a single line in the unions’ document that accuses Director Felicori of overworking and damaging the Reggia. On the contrary, reading the document it would seem (again, however, this is an interpretation) that the unions have the opposite concern, which is to allow the director to safely stay on the job. However, an exchange of banter ensued between Felicori himself and the unions, summarized in an ANSA article: Felicori said he was appalled by the unions’ letter, calling their attitude “a gesture of defiance that only ends up damaging the image of so many workers.” The unions, for their part, responded by asserting that they had been misunderstood, that they had never accused Felicori of working too much (as is evident from the document) and that they had simply noted that “if you overstay your welcome in the Reggia, it is necessary to have a special security plan in place,” adding that this is what happens in every museum. It is also worth mentioning that the unions’ letter is far from untraceable: it was posted on the CGIL Funzione Pubblica Facebook page and was taken up by several honest articles on the subject (such as Roberto Ciccarelli’s in the Manifesto). The document includes, moreover, notes on two situations that would have been much more deserving of attention: in fact, the unions that signed the letter note that Felicori would be inclined “to announce an interpellation to transit” the security staff “to the offices, using them for administrative tasks,” and that in the Royal Palace of Caserta some rooms would be granted “free of charge, distracting the staff from the institutional service to use them in the service of third parties, with the consequent reduction of the spaces of fruition reducing the protection and security of the museum itself.” This last “accusation,” if well-founded, would be decidedly serious: yet, instead of asking for clarification regarding these situations, they focused on a single sentence, manipulating it for instrumental purposes.

Of course: it must be pointed out that the unions’ move was not particularly apt. It would have been much better if the Reggia workers had tried to resolve the vicissitudes with the director internally. If the latter declares himself dumbfounded by the letter, there can only be two hypotheses: either Felicori is truly amazed and the unions have therefore taken few steps to confront him directly (likely), or his wonderment is feigned. However, much more shameful are the exploitations by politics and the media since, moreover, they are targeting one of their favorite targets (also because they are easy prey for certain pre-packaged thinking public opinion): public workers, and southern ones at that. But, you know, it is much easier to create fake cases around two lines than to have a serious and unbiased discussion around a two-page letter. Especially if the fake cases are constructed to put public workers in a bad light.

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