Faced with exceptionally bad polls and the apparent failure of his attempt to form a pre-election coalition with DUI, SDSM leader Dimitar Kovacevski began to attack the press in his rallies.

The main focus of his ire are the Macedonian Television MRTV and Telma TV, which SDSM usually counts as a supportive station. MRTV is singled out because it cooperates with a polling agency and presented the findings of the poll, which showed that VMRO-DPMNE leads SDSM by 2:1 or more in the two rural eastern electoral districts, while also handily beating SDSM in Skopje, where the leftist party hoped it will be more competitive.

I tell them, from this place, it won’t help you to take a side. Again you will have to squeal in some basement when they put the pressure on you. Again you put yourselves in the service of those who locked you in basements in 2012, 2013, Kovacevski said. He is alleging that the main national televisions in Macedonia and MRTV are re-establishing a friendly relationship with VMRO, like some of them did during the era of Nikola Gruevski, when SDSM often campaigned against these TV outlets, declaring them their political enemies.

Telma, on the other hand, supported SDSM from the start of their Colored Revolution in 2015, and its owner, major oil trader Andreja Josifovski, enjoyed a cozy relationship with former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. But more recently, Josifovski’s company Makpetrol was protesting alleged attempts by the Government to push it out from the gas business, and the tone of the TV coverage changed. Telma journalist Bobi Hristov eviscerated former Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski for the disastrous handling of the replacement of passports which left half a million citizens stuck in the country or abroad, unable to travel.

The interview went so badly for Spasovski that his clear ambition to run for President is now dead and buried. Kovacevski did not discuss this interview, and Spasovski’s indefensible track record as Interior Minister, possibly because his demise is also seen as a good thing by the other SDSM presidential hopefuls, like Stevo Pendarovski and Radmila Sekerinska. Instead, Kovacevski pointed out to a new item about a new student food subsidy of 2 EUR per day and how Telma TV aired a new item interviewing students who said that the amount is humiliating. This enraged Kovacevski.

You see the news outlets take a side, defending one political option. After a while they will sober up, and will run to SDSM, but it will be too late, because they sold themselves out. They are offering themselves now, you know, you buy the Bitcoin while it’s cheap, Kovacevski added.

A few months ago, propagandists close to SDSM began a campaign against the second best watch TV station Kanal 5, accusing it of Macedonian nationalism and disrespecting an ethnic Albanian commentator.

SDSM’s relationship with the best watched station, Sitel TV, seems neutral, but the party was part of a major assault on Sitel, launching criminal charges against managers in its parent company and forcing the television to fire its most prominent anchors.

Its open war with Telma and MRTV now leaves SDSM with comfortable relations only with the several Albanian language TV stations, which do not have a serious viewership among ethnic Macedonians, who the party desperately needs to sway. And even in the Albanian media, divisions are growing with some of them opting to support the opposition bloc, and turning against SDSM’s key political ally – DUI.