It's been exactly one year since we interviewed political presenter Terezia Tománková. This year was very difficult, not only when it comes to politics, so we were interested to see how the charismatic journalist coped with its challenges, because it can be very difficult to handle so many male egos in one debate. And to speak with our President, who is known to be pretty unapologetic when dealing with journalists is no easy feat either. In the following interview for LP-Life.com, you’ll learn a bit of what goes on behind the scenes of political debates and find out whether the presenter plans to finally get married! She’ll also reveal her opinion on whether our next president should be a woman.
Terezka, we saw each other exactly a year ago, it was in December, also before Christmas, and I’m curious about what’s been going on in your life during this year, what has changed for you, what made you happy, what upset you, simply put - what was the year like for you?
This year was terrible for everyone. It was all about covid from January throughout spring. Then we got to enjoy quite a nice summer and now it’s here again. What has changed? Well, actually nothing much. At home, we’ve all made it through in good health.
But you did have the coronavirus, and it hit you pretty hard, I hear...?
Yes, yes, we were sick at the turn of the year, which we don't have very good memories of...
And what has changed? Well, actually, my daughter Ema has grown up quite a lot, she became terribly independent, she’s a big girl now, she turned sixteen. And I'm still working, although Partie had a break during July, so I got to enjoy the summer. We did some travelling, but nothing much changed really. With everything that’s been going on, both around covid and in politics, such as the recent elections, I was very busy. But no big change happened.
That's probably a good thing, isn't it?
What were the pre-election debates like for you from a presenter's point of view - everything is live, you have to deal with politicians who sometimes don't want to let the other speak and often start shouting... Tell me, what was it like? Did those debates feel any different to you than when you do your weekly show?
It was a lot of stress. There was an audience in the studio, which included supporters of the individual political parties who came to cheer there. Some even attacked the others, those from the other camp, so it was very stressful. On the other hand, it was a valuable experience for me, and I am very happy I got to try it. But I'm also glad it’s over. I haven't even watched the recording.
No. And I don't plan to.
A lot of people might do so, if only to realize they could have reacted differently here and there.
I'll watch it when I'm old or when I’m not doing this job anymore. I don't know, I haven't found the courage yet, because it was such a huge stress for me that even thinking of it now, I can feel it starting again. I mainly wanted it to be fair. Which is terribly difficult. I tried my best.
Tell me, what did the cooperation between you and Petr Suchon look like? Did you have a plan of who would say what and when? You're more experienced than him, did he take advice?
It wasn't about that. Peter had a completely different role there. He communicated a lot with the audience, he was in charge of the audience, which was a difficult role. Because when you go live, no one knows how the people - and there were 150, 200 of them - might react. You can’t predict what might happen. There were tense emotions there, it was right before the elections... The prime minister was there, as well as the presidents of all parties. Then there was a format with four guests, and he had it firmly in his hands. Working with him was very smooth for me. I knew he had my back, that he was communicating with the audience, and I could count on it one hundred percent, I didn’t have to worry about it at all.
And now imagine a fan storming in on him or something.
Anything could have happened there. There were even security guards in the studio, the production didn’t underestimate anything. Nevertheless, you can never predict all the situations that can happen, no one has such a vivid fantasy. So we were ready for everything there.
Were there any coronavirus measures in place? Did everyone have to be vaccinated?
Absolutely. It was the turn of September, October, so the measures were not yet as strict as what we have today. But everyone in the audience had to be tested.
How satisfied are you with the election results? Did you expect it?
More or less, yes. I had a private tip, I won't tell you what it was, but it was very close to reality. I assumed these four subjects would get in. I won’t reveal what my political preferences are. I only talk about that with the people closest to me, and very rarely at that.
And do you think it's okay? The main party that will lead everything now is a five-party coalition, so… Do you think it’s a good thing? It’s something we haven’t had yet.
I don’t know. Prime Minister Fiala will probably have to answer that question, if it’s a good thing, if he can work with it. Voters will evaluate it, and I think we’ll all find out soon. It's new, five parties is a lot. There are seven parties in the Chamber of Deputies, five of which form the government and only two are in opposition, so we have a hard time planning out the duels and the whole show compared to the time before. Only two parties will take turns on the opposition post, as opposed to the five one the government seat.
Well, we have a new government, you survived this election, but the presidential election is already looming in the air.
I think that if we see each other next year, the presidential campaign will be culminating right about now.
Which means we probably won’t see each other, because you won't have time.
I don’t know what else will happen until then, but the presidential campaign will definitely be culminating. And since the president has been released from the hospital, he’s back in the world of political affairs. He is doing better and will definitely want to influence things. It will be interesting to watch and I look forward to what kind of candidates will appear.
So far, it looks like Babiš, Okamura, Janeček and Kalousek.
I think there will definitely be more.
How do you feel about a woman leading the Czech Republic, like in Slovakia?
I think all of us women would like that.
And do you have a personal tip?
No, I don’t. She would have to be a very brave woman in order to make it. In our political system, direct presidential elections are still somewhat strange. The practice has been implemented there relatively recently. And it's actually interesting to see if it’s going to be a man or a woman, a politician or a person who isn't involved in politics who becomes the president.
There is a magazine that outlined the women who might run for president, and I got to interview them later. They listed five women, among them Danuša Nerudová, Miroslava Němcová, Adéla Šipová…
Dr Nerudová hasn’t really confirmed it yet, nor did she refute it. Of course, we have background information that certain possible candidates are making their rounds in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate right now, asking for support. We have to wait and see who’ll be the one to receive it in the end. Who will announce their candidacy, who’ll decide to run.
Has Babiš already announced his?
He didn't rule it out. But I don't think he announced it.
And do you think it could happen?
I think anything can happen. It is a direct election, a two-round election, which has its specifics, too. Because if someone wins the first round, it doesn’t mean they’ll be elected president in the second round. It can be all against one then. In this respect, a two-round election can bring surprises.
You told me you rarely talk about politics with anyone. But I believe that when you appear somewhere, you are the evocative element that sparks off the discussion.
People want to talk about it. Especially nowadays, when they are full of it and the society is torn apart. It’s not ambivalent, but completely torn apart, I feel. It's not just one camp against another camp, it’s everyone.
How do you feel when someone in the studio starts yelling something? Especially if it’s opinions that you disagree with?
I'm always interested in learning why they have those opinions. I try not to judge people, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, and I am interested to hear more about the “whys". Why don't you want this, why do you want that? If they want to talk about it, they want to share their opinion or their own view of things, I try to listen and I try to understand what their motives are. Why they reject something or vice versa, why they want it. Now it’s typically a question of covid-19 vaccination. Everyone has a yes or no opinion on that, there are very few people who don’t care either way. And I am interested in knowing why they don't want to get vaccinated.
Do you let it get to you?
Not too much. Of course, I have days when some of these debates tire me out, I don't want to talk to anyone about it anymore, but I'm still interested in it. From a neutral point of view, we find ourselves in a very specific era. Sociologically, we are going through times that are unlike anything we have ever had here, no one has experienced anything like this. Simply put, we’re in the middle of a world pandemic that no one has any experience with, and these times are putting us all through a test, each individual person, as well as society as a whole.
With this latest wave, I’ve noticed there is a lot of hatred towards journalists specifically. Do you feel it too?
Yes, of course. I get odd messages, emails, threats, and hate mail after every broadcast. Most of them come from the one camp, those people keep sending me links to all kinds of articles from various disinformation sites, claiming that we will all be dead two years after the vaccine. To be honest, I’m always surprised at how much of that is going around in public space.
And do you read it?
I read some of it, but sometimes it's utter nonsense. But these people feel they have to send it to me and are deeply convinced of their truth.
It happened to me for the first time now that I was getting email threats and hate mail. It caught me by surprise… And I don't really know how to handle it.
Hard to say. What you are saying is the same thing that doctors and nurses are going through these days, people are threatening them too. Which is a complete reversal in society's perception of what we are currently facing. Because we have overworked, dedicated paramedics who used to be seen as heroes a year, or a year and a half ago. At the beginning of the epidemic, the whole society thanked and applauded them, and now part of society has turned against them. This morning, I read a couple of e-mails published by the head of the intensive care unit of a district hospital. I really don’t understand why this is even happening. This is a person who works day and night taking care of sick people, saving dying patients together with his team, looking after them, yet he has to deal with such stuff. I don't understand what motivates the hatred at all.
But let’s move on to something more pleasant. Last year we talked about you baking about ten different kinds of Christmas cookies. The holidays are around the corner and this year, I hope we will be able to enjoy them. Although I'm afraid they'll throw us in lockdown or something before Christmas. But you spent last Christmas sick, so how are you looking forward to it this year?
It actually happened just after Christmas last year, I got sick on New Year's Eve. I'm looking forward to the holidays. I hope that we'll be together, that we'll be healthy, and that we'll be able to enjoy it. I have no big plans. I don't know if I'm going skiing or maybe we're going somewhere together. It's in three weeks, which is a long way off. It’s actually terrible to say this, this era has taught us that making big plans always carries the risk that they may not pan out, so I actually have no big ambitions. I'm baking some Christmas cookies, I've already baked some, but it's not much yet and there certainly won't be ten different kinds. No way. Not this year.
And when can we expect the wedding to take place? You know, I’ve read some articles from the summer, with headlines such as: her wedding was cancelled by Covid.
Yes, it was.
The articles said you already had a wedding dress in the closet, how long has it been hanging there?
For about a year.
And does it still fit?
Yes, at least I hope so, Jesus!. (laughter)
It's the first thing that occurred to me, because most people gained quite a bit of weight during the lockdown, including me. So I was thinking, hope it still fits...
If it didn’t I’d have to start a drastic diet. I’m not going to buy another dress.
So you haven't set a new date yet?
No, we were thinking maybe in the spring, but we'll see how everything goes. Now that Omicron has arrived, nobody knows what’s going to happen. It could be another horror scenario, but other opinions are hopeful that it could push the whole pandemic into another stage… I don’t know.
Anyway, what's your New Year's resolution? And if not a resolution, then wish?
For everyone to be healthy and happy. Or, thinking back to the reason why you said you were happy - because you’re in love - I wish for all of us to always be a little in love with something, or someone, because that really helps. I am a person who lives through love, not hatred. And I also want to keep doing a job that I enjoy. That is an important thing and I want it very much.
I have one more question. Soon, ten years will have passed since the death of Václav Havel - you lived through that era, have you ever interviewed him?
No, I haven’t had a chance to do a one on one interview with him, I was lucky enough to meet him as a reporter, though. But on December 18, when Václav Havel died, I was working on the news, and it was one of those days you remember forever. It was a Sunday and they called me from Prima that I had to come to the newsroom earlier because Václav Havel died. Back then, I was still presenting together with Tomáš Drahoňovský, and I always remember it on December 18th. As well as the whole period after that, because national mourning was declared, the funeral took place on December 23rd.
What do you think he would say about the current events? Communists are no longer in the government...
I suppose he’d be glad about that. I believe he would speak firmly, present a firm opinion, and that he would speak his mind. And I also believe that part of society would support his opinion.