Gossip, innuendo and conspiracy (or “journalism” at The Nation)

20 08 2009

On this post in Thai, see การนินทา การแดกดันและการสมคบคิด (กับ “สื่อ” อย่างเดอะเนชั่น) – วันอาทิตย์ 23 สิงหาคม 2009 — chapter 11.

About 10 days ago PPT blogged on The Nation’s remarkable plot story. There we said that some of its stories and columns would not qualify as journalism, pointing out that personal attacks and unsupported allegations have been too common.

The Nation editorial we commented on constructed a grand and imaginative conspiracy. To cut a long story short, it was claimed then that Thaksin Shinawatra, the red shirts, the supposed blue camp of General Pravit Wongsuwan and Army Chief General Anupong Paochinda, together with a few “suspect” privy councilors, were conspiring with police and traitors in the Democrat Party (most especially Deputy Premier Suthep Thaugsuban) in a behind-the-scenes power play against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (who was allied with Sondhi Limthongkul and his People’s Alliance for Democracy) that would somehow use the Thaksin “royal pardon” petition and the predicted violence to do something…. maybe a “People’s Revolution” or a coup.

PPT saw no evidence for the claims made. We suggested that even if there was something to rumor and conspiracy theory, serious questions need to be asked of this style of “journalism.” PPT was left wondering why The Nation was intent on such tabloid journalism (a journalism that  sensationalizes and exaggerates often using gossip, repeating scandal and relying on innuendo).

Now Thanong Khanthong, the Nation’s leading propagator of this style of “journalism,” gives its readers a new sensational read (21 August 2009: “One crisis averted; more to look forward to”). Apparently made breathless by his own conspiracy theories, Thanong claims that the “Abhisit government narrowly survived the crisis of the royal petition.” With the military was on full alert, the only thing that saved the government was that the damn red shirts were non-violent!

So what happened? The red shirts made “yet another attempt to intimidate the monarchy.” In fact, “the petition can be interpreted as nothing more than a sheer act of provocation and arrogance, with a hidden political agenda.” Hidden? Yes, because Thanong guesses that “the petition was designed as an act of provocation against the monarchy so that the military could have the justification to come out. To justify an intervention, the military could have conveniently blamed the red shirts for committing lese majeste. The plot was very similar to an incident that sparked the violence of the October 6, 1976 tragedy at Thammasat University. If, after a gesture from some key red-shirt strategists, the military had come out, then the red shirts would have become the victims of military suppression.”

For Thanong, the “red shirts are easy pawns that can be sacrificed any time by their leaders, who selfishly crave a military intervention so that they can return to power.” More than this though, Thanong explains that the red shirt leaders were rewarded because they “got more than Bt1 billion for their labour and expenses in the royal petition operation.”

Thanong provides no evidence so a reasonable reader must believe he has made this up. He makes no effort to tell us why the conspiracy failed. Why was there no violence? But never mind, he has another conspiracy that can see the same result!

Fearing that their leader Newin Chidchob will get convicted in the rubber sapling case, the Bhum Jai Thai has proposed an amnesty for  “politicians affected by the 2007 military coup.” PPT must have missed that coup. Maybe Thanong means 2006? This move, Thanong claims, will be the cause of more divisiveness and the military coup he claims the co-conspirators want. This time, it would be the yellow shirts who would be the pawns because they would protest such an amnesty. Thanong does not explain if the yellow shirts are also the pawns of well-paid leaders.

Thanong tells Abhisit that he “cannot sit still.” Thanong admits that he is not a great astrologer: “I predicted that his government might not last beyond August. Now it appears that the August crisis has been averted.” But beware!  “The prime minister can now look forward to the dangerous month of October, which he might or might not survive.” Of course, Thanong’s prediction can’t possibly be wrong this time! Why October? Who knows? But Thanong tells his readers that “the government is broke.” Because of this (and the grand conspiracy), the “knot is being tightened around our dear prime minister.”

Why should PPT even bother blogging about this kind of bottom-feeding journalism? A good question. As we said previously, The Nation was once a newspaper that wanted to be taken seriously. Is that possible now? Probably not, but even in a paper of declining standards and financial stress, there remain a some bright lights (e.g. Chang Noi, the currently sadly missed Pravit  Rojanaphruk, and some of the very basic reporting). But Thanong should be condemned for descending into the muddy swamps of sensationalism, exaggeration,  gossip, repeating scandal and relying on innuendo. Conjecture, divination,  fancifulness, writing on hunches and opinionated guesses don’t amount to journalism. Readers deserve more respect than this.


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22 08 2009
การนินทา การแดกดันและการสมคบคิด (กับ “สื่อ” อย่างเดอะเนชั่น) « Liberal Thai

[…] innuendo and conspiracy (or “journalism” at The Nation) August 20, 2009 ที่มา – Political Prisoners in Thailand แปลและเรียบเรียง – chapter […]

31 08 2009
New: Damning Darunee or damning The Nation? « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] downfall a warning to the like-minded.” Regular readers will know that we have previously questioned this newspaper’s odd “journalism” that has also degenerated into […]




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