Side Views

The prostitution of the mainstream media — Sakmongkol AK47

February 05, 2012

FEB 5 — A few days ago, a friend remarked that he hasn’t read Utusan Malaysia for almost two years. When I asked the reason why, he answered simply by stating Utusan Malaysia has become the extended mouthpiece of Umno and BN. Especially the former. Its editorials are nothing more than patronising dictations by an officious Guru Kanan in charge of discipline. He finds the editorials insulting to the intelligence and nauseatingly overbearing. Who wants to read a paper that says Nik Aziz is delusional, while Dr Mahathir who hasn’t made peace with the new political realities, isn’t?

For substitute he now reads Sinar which has surpassed Utusan in circulation and credibility. I am inclined to believe many others share his revulsion for not only Utusan Malaysia but other members of the mainstream media too. The citadel for the shameless media partisanship has shifted from Jalan Riong to the HQ of Media Prima.

For many years now mainstream media has become increasingly partisan and more overt in promoting the policies of Umno and BN. This evolutionary process by which the MSM became literally the mouthpiece of partisan politics, reached its zenith in 2008 when the media were instrumental in getting Abdullah Badawi kicked out. It was helped further by the existence of some nebulous and often secretive cells in the New Media, helmed often by equally publicity-shy media assassins cloaked under various aliases and pseudonyms. Their obsession for coward secrecy is surpassed only by the intensity of their vitriolic and penchant for ad hominem attacks.

These conclaves of media assassins in the new media are also said to be headed by banished journalists who thought they were legends in the own right. Once upon a time, they thought the world revolved around them and people worshipped at their feet. Some still do and are willing to pay these media witch doctors hefty sums of money.

Many journalists both in the official MSM and in the satellite new media dropped any pretence of objectivity and became not only cheerleaders but active de facto members of the campaign. What has their newfound loyalty and prostration achieved for the journalism community?  

During the past two decades no other sector of the economy has experienced such overwhelming financial and employment devastation and severe loss of credibility. In a scathing reference to NST Malaysia, Lee Kuan Yew the former Singapore PM simply said that it has lost credibility. What do people read? They read Harakah, Roketkini and of course, the Internet.

Yet the vast majority of the media do not understand why their profession is in decline and a failing business model. They are still in denial and cannot accept the reality of the marketplace, as their actions have prompted the Malaysian public to lose all confidence in their objectivity and integrity.

The 2013 election season has begun and this same media finds itself in the position of having to defend and reinforce the man they chose to sleep with.  They have willingly opted to do exactly that. The mainstream media is systematically pulling out all the stops to destroy any and all viable BN challengers in an undeclared but understood alliance with the Najib re-election machine.

Rather than objectively analysing the folly of the Najib class warfare strategy and its potential to undermine and destroy societal cohesion, the mainstream media has trumpeted and encouraged this divisive and dangerous strategy. Clearly, the economic proposals which Najib has announced thus far seem to work preponderantly for the benefit of a select clientele.

Which class welfare agenda is Najib pursuing? The welfare agenda hasn’t change from the dictats of Dr Mahathir despite the very public and pompously loud announcements of Najib via his various acronym initiatives. It’s the welfare of the wealthy corporate class and the adherents of the free market economy. Except, in the Malaysian application of that concept ‘free market’ has nothing to do with the ideas of market efficiency and productivity which economists are propounding. The ‘free market’ which the Najib administration pushes on and supports is the market freedom for the selected few and the klelptocratic elite to lay their hands on economic resources.

The Perkasa movement, conceived by friends of Umno and encouraged by Putrajaya, as well as blessed by many in the mainstream media, was intended to further reinforce the war against the ‘subversive’ and disloyal majority. It was intended also to redirect the anger and blame for all of our country’s woes away from the statist policies of the Najib administration. Yes, Najib hasn’t really moved at all from the mindset of the government knows best. His declaration about the age of government knowing best was naked rhetoric. It’s all an elaborately propped stage.

Anwar Ibrahim is being cast as the villain in this stage production. He must be destroyed by unproven and salacious allegations of sexual perversions.  And yes, the only judgment that matters now must come from the courts. If the courts cannot convict him for want of evidence, we the laymen cannot read beyond what is manifestly stated in law. 

Nik Aziz and Haji Hadi are portrayed as wild-eyed and unstable religious fanatics. They are, says Utusan Malaysia, delusional losing grip on reality. One needs only to scour the characterisation of these people in the pro-Umno blogs. There, you get to read the vilest descriptions of Hadi and Nik Aziz. Of course, such characterisations would never be applied to any BN candidate.

When it comes to Lim Guan Eng there is no ethical barrier too high for the media to tear down in an attempt to discredit him. The spectre of unfounded and outright lies about his son’s harassment of an equally innocent young lady being given unhindered coverage by the media and Umno blogs is considered acceptable, as well as any innuendo or accusation created out of whole cloth. Such a scenario would never be contemplated if the person or persons involved are Umno and BN leading lights. Hence, the controversy surrounding Shahrizat and the NFC imbroglio are uncritically lapped up by the mainstream media as a ‘test from God’.

What has this loyalty to the Umno and BN masters wrought for the members of this once-proud profession? The landscape of the once mighty journalism community is one of utter devastation. The daily circulation of all major newspapers has dropped. The NST has even been described as a kid’s newspaper. The devastation of the mainstream papers is well documented in this blog.

How does the journalism community react? The most important and fashionable matter for the vast majority of the journalism community has been to be part of the in-crowd, which requires little independence of thought or even the ability to generate an original thought. Thus many in the media are still caught up in the old paradigm of good versus evil wherein conservatives are good and liberals are evil.

The inconvenient truth is, a majority of the members of the mainstream media are incapable of recognising their error in blindly supporting the statist agenda of the BN government over the years. Regardless of the evidence at hand, either historic or contemporary, their egos and narcissism so dominate their psyche that admitting a mistake is tantamount to the apocalypse.  Thus they appear willing to sacrifice their own future and credibility by actively campaigning for Umno and BN’s re-election rather than honestly report on the lies and machinations of this administration and their devastating impact on future generations. The only outcome the media has guaranteed is the continued decline and degradation of their once noble profession. — sakmongkol.blogspot.com

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. He was Pulau Manis assemblyman (2004-2008).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.