Scapegoats of the rude and fatuous

Roger Mitton has a piece on Todayonline looking at the ridiculous media backlash we've been seeing recently.

It is the old blame-the-messenger routine from those who benefit from the status quo.

Last Friday, Arglit Boonyai, editor of the Bangkok Post's weekly supplement, Guru, wrote: "The international press is making a complete mess of their reporting of the situation." Letters in the Bangkok Post that day said the "international media has been so one-sided" and referred to the "childish and misinformed reporting by both the CNN and BBC".

The well-known novelist and artistic director of the Bangkok Opera, Somtow Sucharitkul, issued a critical piece in his popular blog entitled Don't Blame Dan Rivers.

Depicting CNN correspondent Dan Rivers as being typical of the foreign press, Somtow wrote: "A lot of people here are astonished and appalled at the level of irresponsibility and inaccuracy shown by such major news sources as CNN."

The nadir came when the Bangkok Post's Sunday columnist Andrew Biggs, writing from the safety of Los Angeles, called CNN "the world's biggest mouthpiece for the Red Shirts". Tearing into the network's commentators (neither of whom I have ever met), Biggs wrote: "I have watched helplessly as Dan-somebody and the aptly-named Sara Snide – or is it Snider? – reporting (sic) breathlessly from the Red Shirt camp."

He foamed onward: "I don't damn Dan and Sara for being deluded or even misguided … I don't like them for being lazy." He even stooped to asserting that the duo made up their reporting as they went along.

That was not the end of the nastiness. On Monday, Bangkok Post commentator Philip J Cunningham lambasted CNN for giving "undue airtime to overly made-up, puffy-haired announcers with fancy graphics tools who make ignorant comments about Thailand".

Wow. Journalists sticking the knife into colleagues who have been doing their best under harrowing, dangerous conditions.

This is what I've been saying for the past few days. It's one thing to critique the work of journalists, but it's another to do it purely by dishing out crass insults. So-called writers and journalists, Thai and foreign, are finding it difficult to put forward convincing arguments as to why CNN et al have been getting it wrong. People are convinced CNN is wrong, but they seem unsure why they think this. It's the pack mentality.

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8 thoughts on “Scapegoats of the rude and fatuous

  1. Cunningham is not a journalist. He just pretends to be one. Sometimes he says he is a professor. Sometimes he says he is a freelance writer. Sometimes he says he is a political commentator.

    Was Cunningham in Thailand during the crisis? He does not say he was.

  2. It wouldn't be so bad if an actual critique of CNN coverage had taken place.

    But it hasn't.

    It's just abuse because Dan Rivers didn't report things in the way The Nation liked.

    So Yoon, Thanong and Tulsathit organised a pogrom directed at Rivers (who has been getting death threats).

    And plenty of expats and Thai rightwingers joined in.

    It's plain nastiness.

    Thailand is turning into a disturbed and disturbing place.

    It will reap the whirlwind.

  3. Well, Thais wanted to see truth from their points of view. Dan screwed up their points of view, CNN gets the blame. I wonder how Fox would have reported…

    Maybe that cartoon from the Nation has some biographical references of their reporters?

  4. Any journalist trying to paint the Thai military as some evil killing machine is wrong.

    Prof. Desmond Ball thinks that the military operations against the Red Shirts were conducted professionally.
    He teaches at ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He is a highly regarded expert on military and security affairs and has published over 60 books on nuclear strategy and defence and security in the Asia-Pacific region including “The Boys in Black: The Thahan Phran (Rangers), Thailand’s Para-military Border Guards” (White Lotus, Bangkok, 2004).

    In an interview, he said: “Let me say that I’m not a person who normally supports army crackdowns of protesters. My sort of basic philosophy normally starts off from the other side, supporting protesters against army and security crackdowns. But in this case I think that the security authorities including both the police and the army acted by and large very professionally. I’m not sure whether I can see what other choices that they had , they had to finally move that Red Shirt encampment in that central business area of Bangkok. They did it in ways which I think really minimized the violence compared to what it could have been, we could have seen fatalities in the hundreds if they hadn’t been organized properly and conducted properly…..”

    You can see his full interview at the link below. He discusses lots of issues including who the “black shirts” are and the assassination of Seh Daeng. The quoted part above appears at around 11.30 minute mark.

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