Tuesday :: Dec 23, 2003

Freedom of the Press


by Mary

Posted by Mary
Singapore gets poor marks for freedom of the press from William Safire. He complains that the non-Singaporean press pulls its punches when reporting on the dealings in Singapore, and so, he never passes up a chance to point out the cowardice of the press when dealing with the Singapore government. Last year he reiterated his theme when Bloomberg paid damages to Singapore from writing a story pointing out the nepotism in the government.

New York Times columnist and long-time anti-Lee Kuan Yew crusader William Safire fumed: 'In kowtowing to the Lee family, the Bloomberg News Service - the feisty, aggressive newcomer to coverage of global finance on cable and computers - has just demeaned itself and undermined the cause of a free online press.'

So it was with some amusement, I found an article this week, Good News Bush with the subtitle: "Never mind the bad press abroad. In the US media, the President does no wrong," in the Strait Times (Singapore's main newspaper). They reported that the US media seems to have a real problem with reporting facts regarding the White House.

[Mr. Bush] does not care about negative stories on television or in newspapers outside the US. They have no impact on his political standing and his re-election next November.

But stories appearing in states such as Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri do. They sway voters who decide who the President of the United States is.

So Mr Bush is much more concerned about his coverage in the Miami Herald than in The Times of London, or in the Cleveland Plain Dealer than in Le Monde or El Pais.

And his White House staff have been superb in shaping his coverage in these and other national and regional newspapers and television stations.

Intriguingly, their job has been aided by the way supposedly hard-nosed, cynical, truth-seeking American pressmen have been willingly complaisant in their own co-opting.

Remember, these are the hacks who chortle in their chardonnays about the alleged sycophancy of Asian journalists. Their hypocrisy is shocking.

This story points out that the White House is very good in its ability to manipulate and game the press.

That has been the brilliance of the White House manipulation of the press in the post-9/11 era. It has cowed journalists into treating the US President in a manner that would have been unthinkable under previous incumbents. For that it can only be praised. It has done an outstanding job.

The US press has not.

Mr. Safire's ears must be burning, especially after being used to spread more lies last week which were debunked in record time.

Maybe he can one day show the courage to tell the truth in the face of power and possible loss of access -- but then again, maybe not.

Mary :: 12:41 AM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!