PRAGUE, April 5 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is accusing Italian media of defaming him by painting him as gaffe-prone on foreign trips, saying he has been driven to the point of wanting to tell the press to “go to hell”.
Berlusconi’s lament came after he was ribbed in Italian newspapers for startling Queen Elizabeth by shouting out to the U.S. president during the G20 summit and then failing to greet his hosts at a NATO summit because he was chatting on his phone.
“The thing that really upsets me is that the Italian press boycotts me,” he told reporters at an European Union-U.S. summit in Prague late on Saturday.
“It makes one want to say: ‘Go to hell’”
Complaining of “slander” and “disinformation” by the press, the 72-year old media tycoon told journalists he was tempted to respond with unspecified “direct and tough” measures.
“When (soccer teams) Juve or Inter play an away game against a foreign team, I always root for them,” he said. “Now it’s impossible for one to go abroad, you drive yourself mad, doing the tour de force that I do and then to come home and see the Italian press that seems to have no other objective than to say that the premier has made gaffes or cut a sorry figure.”
Berlusconi is famed for raising eyebrows with his often unpredictable remarks or gestures, once referring to U.S. President Barack Obama as suntanned and jokingly suggesting in 2005 he had wooed the Finnish president.
Earlier at the NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, Berlusconi had vented his frustrations with the press by promising not to hold news conferences anymore, telling journalists they worked against Italy while he worked for the country.
He followed up with a press briefing the next day, but did not take any questions. (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by )
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