Italy’s “family-first” prime minister Giorgia Meloni has broken up with her TV journalist boyfriend after lewd comments in which he grabbed his genital area as he propositioned a co-host to a “threesome or foursome,” led to the suspension of his television show.
Meloni took to social media Friday to announce the split from Andrea Giambruno who is also the father of their 7-year-old daughter.
“My relationship with Andrea Giambruno, which lasted almost ten years, ends here,” Meloni wrote just two days after video of his lewd behavior during a commercial break of the popular Striscia la Notizia program on Mediaset went viral.
“I thank him for the splendid years we spent together, for the difficulties we went through, and for giving me the most important thing in my life, which is our daughter Ginevra.”
Giambruno said through his agent Friday that he and Mediaset had “agreed” that his show would be suspended in the aftermath of the scandal. He was not in the anchor chair during the Friday afternoon show taping. Mediaset told CNN affiliate SKY24 that they were “investigating the facts” surrounding Giambruno’s alleged behavior.
In the video, which was shot during a commercial break in front of a live audience, and posted on the program’s social media accounts and website, Giambruno is seen walking around the set and heard asking a female co-host if she has a boyfriend, which she says she does and that he had asked her earlier.
Then he asks if she wants to have group sex, asking her if he minded if he touched his genital area, which he did, while talking to her, according to the video published by the program. The co-host is seen looking down at the desk during his comments.
Mediaset, which was owned by the late politician Silvio Berlusconi, has long been criticized for airing sexist content and often publishes behind-the-scenes videos of their popular program.
In Meloni’s social media post, she wrote: “Our paths have diverged for some time, and the time has come to acknowledge it. I will defend what we were, I will defend our friendship, and I will defend, at all costs, a seven-year-old girl who loves her mother and loves her father, as I was unable to love mine.”
Meloni’s father was a drug addict who spent time in prison, according to her autobiography. Many of her coalition members, including Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini and Interior Minister Antonio Tajani and her own political party Brothers of Italy tweeted “hugs” in support of her personal pain.
She added, “I have nothing else to say about this” and asked her critics not to try to capitalize on her problems at home.
Giambruno previously embarrassed the prime minister by suggesting that a spate of gang rapes of young women could have been prevented if the girls avoided alcohol.
“If you go dancing you are fully entitled to get drunk,” he said on his television program, which Mediaset has cancelled after video of his behavior leaked this week.
“But if you avoid getting drunk and losing consciousness, perhaps you’d also avoid getting into trouble, because then you’ll find the wolf.”
When answering a question about Giambruno’s statements on violence against women, Meloni said he had been “misunderstood.”
“He has been misunderstood. I believe in freedom of the press and I don’t tell him what to say,” she said.
Meloni has been widely criticized for her focus on traditional families despite not having married Giambruno, and for her focus on limiting rights of same sex parents by criminalizing surrogacy, removing one parent’s name from birth certificates in cities where her political party has the majority.
Calls, texts and emails to Meloni’s spokespeople and political party for comment were not answered. A text to Giambruno was not answered. Mediaset public affairs office confirmed that his show was suspended, but did not give a reason.