In a sign Berlusconi is showing the strain of the stream of allegations against him, he called the programme in the early hours and told Gad Lerner his show was a “television whorehouse”.
Berlusconi’s intervention came on the show L’Infedele on Monday night, which was hosted by Lerner, a prominent journalist, on one of the private Italian channels that the Prime Minister’s media empire does not own.
It is the second time in a week the billionaire tycoon has called a television show to complain. On the previous occasion the host of the Ballaro show on state-owned Rai 3 refused to put his call on air and invited him to appear in person instead. This time his call was put through, resulting in a barbed exchange with Lerner.
“What I have seen is crude, cruddy and repugnant,” he stormed. “What you have broadcast is false, could not be further from the truth. I know what I am talking about and you don’t.
“A disgusting programme. A contemptible, vile and loathsome host,” Berlusconi raged. “I’ve seen a reconstruction of reality that is far from the truth . . . “
Berlusconi also launched into a defence of Nicole Minetti, the half-British former dental hygienist who is under investigation for allegedly recruiting prostitutes for sex parties, known as “bunga-bunga” evenings, at the Prime Minister’s mansion.
“She’s a splendid person, intelligent, well-prepared . . . She paid her way through her studies by working. She’s worth a lot more than the so-called ladies here on the show.”
The host advised Berlusconi to present himself to magistrates rather than vent his anger on television.
He ended his rant by asking Iva Zanicchi, a Euro MP from his party who was a guest on the show, to leave and take no further part in it but she refused and stayed until the end.
Berlusconi is at the centre of a sex probe involving an under-age escort and is also being investigated for extortion.
The 74-year-old has been accused of hosting “bunga bunga” parties –– a crude reference to an after-dinner sex game –– at his home but he has insisted they were “elegant, civilised” evenings.
The allegations have prompted much criticism in Italy.
The scandal was the main subject on Lerner’s show, broadcast on La 7, one of the few channels in Italy not owned by the media tycoon prime minister. –– Iol.