Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What is (really) wrong with our media: Juan Duval Uys and Badih Chabaan

The ANC government has been bashing the media, arguing that they are part of the dark forces out to destroy the ANC and hence also the country. According to Frank Chikane, Director-General in the Office of the President, the media does not know how to work with the government – unlike the Dutch Reformed Church who has always brown-nosed government and therefore knows how to be good lapdogs.

Of course we have learnt many years ago from the apartheid state that when one is in trouble the easiest way to divert attention from one’s troubles is to create a bogy man and the media seems to do for the moment. I suspect compared to other healthy democracies (therefore not the USA), our media is rather complacent and benign. Imagine what a torrid time President Thabo Mbeki would have been given by the British Press for saying and doing the things he does.

For me the real problem with our media is that many journalists are far too credulous or lazy and therefore do not question even the most preposterous assertions made by known charlatans - as long as it will sell newspapers.

This morning in the Cape Times (and now also carried on News24), for example, a story about disarray in the National People’s Party (the creation of Cape Town con business-man and city council member Badih Chabaan) quotes as facts several assertions made by Mr Chabaan. The introductory paragraph boldly states:

Two leaders of the National People's Party have been expelled, the party's financial accounts are to be audited by KPMG and its new leader, Badih Chaaban, is to lodge complaints of embezzlement against some members.

The newspaper also publishes without comment or question claims by Mr Chabaan that he had two members of the party followed while they were meant to be recruiting members in George and that instead of meeting members, the two were seen in a local nightclub.

Now, I will bet at least one month of my salary that no KPMG auditors will ever see the books of this new party, that a complaint of embezzlement will never be followed up, and that no one was ever hired to follow the two members of the party in George. Over the past two months almost none of the claims made by Mr. Chabaan have come true and most claims have been shown to be outrageous lies. Why would these claims be different?

Yet the Cape Times publishes these wild assertions as if they were true. One must also remember that Mr. Chabaan had hired another charlatan of note, Juan Duval Uys (pictured), as his media liaison officer. This is a match made in heaven: two epic shysters finally get together to tell the most outrageous lies to the gullible media.

Mr. Uys has long entertained and bamboozled the media with completely false but sensationalist claims about his “hugely popular” Gay and Lesbian Alliance. Every time he made a new claim it was patently obvious for all of us with more than two brain cells that these claims were completely false. If, say, Mr. Juan Duval Uys claimed to be the head of a Gay and Lesbian organisation with hundreds of thousands of members and no one in the gay community has ever met anyone being a member, one would think the media would at least put such claims in scare quotes.

But no, everything these guys say is reported as fact and worse, never followed up. No one at the Cape Times is going to phone Mr. Chabaan in two weeks to ask how that KPMG report is coming along and at what police station embezzlement charges were laid.

And in a month or two Mr. Chabaan or Mr. Uys will hold a press conference and claim to have met Jesus Christ in a bar in Putsonderwater and that Jesus had told them that Helen Zille is the anti-Christ and, lo and behold, the next day it will be reported as fact in the Cape Times.

In that sense Mr Chikane does have a point when he complains about the media. The only time the media shows any scepticism or any eagerness to follow up claims is when government representatives make those outrageously false claims. What Mr. Chikane is asking for is that the same leeway given by the media to shysters like Chabaan and Uys should also be shown to the ANC. If that had happened, we would all now have believed that HIV does not cause AIDS and that dear uncle Thabo needs a third term to save South Africa.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

fine article. frustrating fools. our struggles continue...

Andrew said...

I couldnt agree with you more. One of the joys of British politics is the fact that despite the reputation of our ludicrous tabloid press, serious journalists are at least as credible as our politicians - and the public know exactly what is spin and what is entertainment. To be a politician in the UK is a very brave thing to do - you will be called to account on every word and every action. It shows up in Prime Ministers Question time when the entertainment factor is skilfully mixed with the serious issues of the day.
In America, the 'beacon of democracy', to question the president is still seen as something criminal and we can all see where that has led them.
There are enough 'democratic' countries run by dictators who have complete control of the press (Venezuela, Russia, Zim...maybe even Italy)to predict the consequences of that route.
The question that is yet to be answered for the 'burgeoning democracy' that is South Africa is which version of democracy it will choose.

Africannabis said...

the media - didn't put the monkey into the playpen - they just report on how the monkeys play...

I wonder how the NPP feel about the EXPLOITATION OF THE MALE PROSTITUTION INDUSTRY

All those boys, standing in the cold...
Underfunded teenagers on the net...

should I go On...?

Africannabis said...

Ja - how exactly does the NPP plan on dealing with the underage street children selling themselves for sex?

NOW there's a question?

Africannabis said...

Naturally I only refer to the SA Male Prostitution industry - of course...

Africannabis said...

damn I'm having fun with this - what are we talking about again...

Whores or Politicians?

Africannabis said...

SA Democracy.

Where the trick gets beaten up by the whore between the silky media sheets.

and the trick pays for it...

twice. When paying tax on the newspaper, the TV license (the right thing to do (never(never mind(the self-editing-thing)))

hex said...

"the media - didn't put the monkey into the playpen - they just report on how the monkeys play ..."

Beautiful! Nah, the Cape Times is not to blame: it's up to us readers to decide what's bullsh*t and what's not.

Pierre de Vos said...

The media has a powerful role to play in society. By selecting to report on some things and not others it influences what those of us who follow the media think. By the way they report on things they also influence the way we think. They are NOT neutral bystanders....

Africannabis said...

certainly not in the western cape - if you look at the amount of press the WC Gov puts out - what was that story again about Ebrahim and the reporter from the argus...?

and my memory isn't that short-term that I can't remember the saga about Pieter Marais media budget either...

and just HOW many times have I read that the ANC have given back District 6 to "The People" - yet the land is sold to Caltex...

A very Important role to play - however - if those in power simply fob off media reports - "rubbish" "lies" - then the newspaper is nothing but something to wrap chips in really

Anonymous said...

Hey guys

Juan-Duval Uys

I nearly asphyxiated in my oats this morning when I quickly had a look at ETV 24 hr news. None other than Mr Juan-Duval Uys sitting there all dressed in powder blue pinstripe suit and pink tie - as - wait for it -

"NATIONAL PARTY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION" ...

"They" are reviving the National Party and bringing an "alternative" to the voting public under the banner "Enough is enough". "They" have identified many former NP-members "squatting" in other parties, where they have been forced into by Marthinus's "defection" to the ANC. "Many" former members will rejoin, as well as "former leaders".

Now - these are all the parties he has belonged to ...

- Gay & Lesbian Association, registered as a political party, which changed its name to:
- the Death Penalty Party, to whom "many" old NP's would have defected in Cape Town back when (and nver happened);
- recently, the National People's Party - where he hooked up with rabble rouser Chabaan http://constitutionallyspeakingsa.blogspot.com/2007/09/what-is-really-wrong-with-our-media.html

- and now, the National Party.


The mind boggles.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys

Juan-Duval Uys

I nearly asphyxiated in my oats this morning when I quickly had a look at ETV 24 hr news. None other than Mr Juan-Duval Uys sitting there all dressed in powder blue pinstripe suit and pink tie - as - wait for it -

"NATIONAL PARTY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION" ...

"They" are reviving the National Party and bringing an "alternative" to the voting public under the banner "Enough is enough". "They" have identified many former NP-members "squatting" in other parties, where they have been forced into by Marthinus's "defection" to the ANC. "Many" former members will rejoin, as well as "former leaders".

Now - these are all the parties he has belonged to ...

- Gay & Lesbian Association, registered as a political party, which changed its name to:
- the Death Penalty Party, to whom "many" old NP's would have defected in Cape Town back when (and nver happened);
- recently, the National People's Party - where he hooked up with rabble rouser Chabaan http://constitutionallyspeakingsa.blogspot.com/2007/09/what-is-really-wrong-with-our-media.html

- and now, the National Party.


The mind boggles.