Monday, November 19, 2012

Thai Media Bias Shows Its Ugly Face

And it is the face of Channel 7’s reporter, Somjit Nawakruasunthorn.
Somjit Nawakruasunthorn
Nearly every day, the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Chalerm Yubamrung, holds a small, informal press conference. Usually these question and answer sessions are humdrum and uneventful but the one held on Nov 15, 2012 was quite entertaining and illustrates the typical media bias there is against the current government there… specifically, the bias shown by Channel 7’s reporter, Somjit Nawakruasunthorn.

The topic of the questioning was the security preparations for handling the next Pitak Siam rally on Nov 24-25 at the Royal Plaza. 
Mr Chalerm was simply trying to inform Somjit that a political party was behind the rally was the main threat. 

Which party, she asked?

"The one that loses elections," he answered, clearly referring to the opposition  Democrats who haven’t won a national election in over 20 years. Clearly Somjit is not the sharpest tool in the tool shed.

When she persisted in her questions, challenging him to provide evidence, he pointed out to her that she was a Democrat supporter, causing her to misunderstand the situation and the government's progress in dealing with it.

The reporter said she could sue him for the remark. Mr Chalerm said he had done nothing wrong.

‘‘I’m just saying that you sympathize with that party. There is nothing wrong with that,’’ Mr Chalerm said. ‘‘Sue me if you want,’’ he added.

Somjit retorted: ‘‘If your calling me sympathetic to that party is not defamatory, would calling your servitude to Thaksin Shinawatra amount to defamation?’’

Mr Chalerm said: ‘‘That’s definitely defamation.’’

The reporter then challenged Mr Chalerm to file a police complaint against her.

Here’s the video of the event:

Now I don’t think we need to bring this to any Thai court.  Why waste their time?  Besides, everyone knows Thai courts are both incompetent and corrupt.  I will be more than happy to be the judge here… and know that I don’t just pass judgment.  I lay on the horn and flip it the bird.

Is Somjit sympathetic to the Democrat Party?  Let’s look at the evidence.

Somjit has admitted that she participated in the PAD’s terrorist takeover of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in 2008. This terrorist action was supported by the Democrats which helped bus in participants.

One Democrat Party leader who openly supported the PAD is Korn Chatikavanij. In 2008, Korn said the following in the Bangkok Post after the siege of the NBT station by the PAD:

Let’s be clear I am a PAD sympathizer. I attended the very first Thammasat “seminar” organized by Sondhi Limthongkul back in 2005. I remembered thinking at the time that something special was happening.

Of course, one can read more about the Democrat Party Bankster, Korn, from a syrupy book written by an obvious ass kissing author, none other than Somjit herself.
Somjit's Book About Korn 
Somjit has also written two other books practically worshipping former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, the most recent one which Abhisit helped promote with personal appearances at book signings. It must have been quite a feat writing these books while her tongue was half-way down the backside of Abhisit’s trousers.
Somjit's Two Books About Abhisit 
So I think it is fairly obvious that Somjit is a Democrat Party sympathizer which automatically makes her uninformed and ignorant in my judgment.

Is Somjit biased in her reporting? Again, let’s be fair and look at some evidence.

In her first month after being taking office, democratically elected Prime Minster Yingluck Shinawatra refused to answer questions at a press conference from Somjit. The first question the PM refused to answer was: "Do you ever think of doing something for the country or the people sometimes or not?" That question was preceded by this one: "Do you think the cabinet is uglier than the PM?"

There is a difference between asking hard questions in an interview and asking questions intended to put someone on the spot and embarrass them in public with the cameras rolling.  Journalistic ethics say the later is not acceptable practice, in Thailand or anywhere else. Obviously, we are not dealing with Barbara Walters here.

But this doesn’t mean Somjit is biased against the Pheu Thai led government. She’s only biased if she doesn’t ask similar type of unethical questions of the opposition Democrats. However, all I could find is "soft and sugary" questions to the Democrats coming from Somjit. I wouldn’t be surprised that she gets cavities while interviewing Democrats, which is really saying something based upon her enormous set of “chompers.”

And come to think of it, I thought I spotted some tooth anomaly in one of her photographs.

Closer inspection reveals a possible small cavity on the upper first molar.

So I think it is very fair to say that Somjit is a biased propaganda outlet and has prostituted herself to the service of the Democrat Party and other right wing reactionaries who are desperately trying to sleaze their way back into power. There! I said it. Sue me. 

But there is a point to be made. Somjit accuses Chalerm of corruption… of being the servant of Thaksin Shinawatra. And many people feel that Thailand can’t exist as a democracy because of the extreme corruption there.

But although corruption is a scourge, it is not as big of a barrier to democracy as the unethical behavior that has become commonplace in the Thai news media.  Journalism is a necessary piece of the democratic structure itself, making reporters “democracy’s stewards”.  Public enlightenment is the foundation of democracy and the forerunner of justice. The duty of all journalists is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.   

Below are a few snippets from the code of ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists that I'm sure Somjit or anyone at Channel 7 (or even anyone from “The Nation”) never bothered to read or embrace (of course, I doubt they're members):

Act Independently

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:

* Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
* Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
* Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
* Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
* Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
* Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
* Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
* Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

The expectations are set. We have to hold them to it. 

Deputy PM Chalerm is holding Channel 7 to it. He has stated that he will not answer questions from the media if a Channel 7 reporter is among the interviewing group.

Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Somjit Nawakruasunthorn never had any.

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