Lay off the Press

I am incensed to no end when I read about the AG Amos Wako saying that the media is biased and intolerant. Really? Mr. Wako, biased and intolerant? We are hearing this from you? Right now? After all the nolle prosequi's you've thrown about? Lucy Kibaki going on and on about how she is being persecuted by the press, the WH blaming Newsweek for the deaths in the Arab world resulting from riots due to the now retracted story about the Koran being flushed in Guantanamo bay. BTW, The Koran may indeed have been flushed[I dont mean to sound insensitive to the Koran here]. “Newsweek was wrong about its source, right about the story”
I admire journalists and consider their profession quite noble. They often put their lives on the line for us to be informed. Just a few names to think of… Mohammed Amin , Daniel Pearl, David Bloom of NBC, Giuliana Sgrena, and many others around the world. We blog about the stories they cover, yet I wonder if we really appreciate what it takes for us to read the story.
Remember when Journalists were arrested willy nilly in the Nyayo years, now that we have a semblance of democracy, the importance of the press cannot be underestimated. The press helps us hold the [Kenyan] govt’s feet to the fire. (There are arguments for baking said govt at a decent temperature till the resulting MP’s can be more pragmatic and do more than just pass 1 bill in 1 year, and make exorbitant health provisions for themselves + 2 wives and 8 bambinos.
It seems to me that when the press reports on issues that rub the govt the wrong way, the government reps start making statements like…first to VP Moody Awori [he made some other statements here that kind of made sense lakini…]
“The VP gave the example of the Kenyan constitutional debate and said that although it dominated the news, journalists should also tell the story that the government is functioning better than it did two years ago.” Hmm I think that may be debatable. Correct me if I am wrong.
Now to Scott McLennan
“"It's puzzling that while Newsweek now acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refused to retract the story," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "I think there's a certain journalistic standard that should be met and in this instance it was not."
"The report has had serious consequences," McClellan said. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."”
Cough* Illegal Iraq*cough*War*cough*Abu Ghraib*. [Link to Kos’ Pot Meet Kettle]
That is not to say that the media doesn’t have issues, we all know media both in the US and Kenya have issues. Allow me to reiterate “M Vs Daily Nation” Result: They published an acknowledgement of their obvious error. Charles Onyango-Obbo (love his writing btw!) wrote that the Kenyan media is facing a credibility crisis. That is self reflection in a reality based way. I think the media does realize that their bread and butter depends on us readers being able to trust them to report the story, uh and pay for it too. Like all relationships you can’t expect it to be all rosy all the time. Now about the Newsweek scandal check out Stephan Richter’s take on the REAL Newsweek scandal. If you thought for one moment that PBS is a safe place to chill out from the ranting of Bill Oreilly on fox, well ,tivo the programs right now, coz apparently the conservatives want to influence that too. Check out Media Matters for America “Hands off my PBS!” The interview of the new CPB president. (He doesn’t listen to much public radio – btw, Jason Beaubien of NPR covered the Kenyan elections so wonderfully I could give him a Pulitzer!)
Before govt spokesmen get to pointing fingers at the press, how about some self reflection and some reality based analyses of what is REALLY going on? Something about removing logs from one’s eyes and all that? Could Lucy at least replace Clifford Derrick’s camera? Please?


Blogger jjray said...

I think it is the new tactic of the right wing. Instead of admitting the charges contained in the story, attack the authors of the story for their reporting of what amounts to details. The tactic worked to perfection for Bush during the 2004 election with CBS and the story about his national guard service. All allegations in the story were essentially correct but they were based upon documents of dubious origin. Other sources, however, confirmed the assertions in the documents (i.e., Bush was absent without leave from service in the National Guard during war time and lost his flight status due to failure to take a require medical examine even when ordered to do so by his superior). They are trying the same trick with the story regarding desicration of the Koran. It obviously happened (all the multitude of reports and eye-witness statements to this effect can't be wrong). The US Gov only denies one report that an entire Koran was flushed down the toilet (could have happened in another incident or been only individual pages rather than the entire book or the soldier could have urinated on it). The meat of the story is correct just maybe not the particulars. The right tries to defect attention by focusing on the particulars of how the story was reported rather than whether the substance of the allegations are correct. It's garbage.

Maybe the Kibaki administration is learning a trick or two from their American counterparts.

5/27/2005 9:11 PM  
Blogger Afromusing said...

jjray, nodding furiously (literally and figuratively).

5/28/2005 9:58 AM  
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