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
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?
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
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.