Doing unethical business under the garb of ethical journalism
ISLAMABAD: They are the front-line warriors in relentless attacks on Geo TV. Rumour mill is running high to feed them distorted information. They mark the target in daylight and hit them at night. They gang up to crush the dissent. They are posing serious threats to jealously guarded media freedom.
Be reminded that I am not talking about the hit men. They are their proxies instead. They are the men on a mission. Their first assignment was to discredit Geo TV. Now, they have been tasked to demolish the credibility of the journalists dare to disagree with them. They are ‘patriotic’ anchors who are into an unethical business under the garb of ethical journalism.
They are the knights of darkness. Their business thrives on rumour-mongering. They are expert in converting tragedies into opportunities. In Hamid Mir’s attack, they see a chance to capture the eyeballs, an attempt backfired so far. You see them loaded with ‘dossiers’ for targeting the dissenting guests. Bush calling ‘either with us or against us’ is at its best display in their shows. They know where to put themselves up and shut you up.
They try to force their agendas upon the guests while discussing ethical journalism. They have divided the media between ‘they’ and ‘us’. They are ruthless attackers. At times, they don’t bother to verify the ‘intelligence brief’ they are passed on for vilifying the ‘enemy’ media.
They are seen grilling the ‘traitor’ journalists. Ansar Abbasi, editor investigation is one of them. He is the most sought after person by the talk show hosts of three different channels that are playing like vultures in a failed attempt to capture the audience of Geo TV capturing over 50 percent eyeballs. Other than conducting their own shows, ‘patriotic’ anchors also exhibit a spirit of camaraderie by helping their like-minded colleagues. How do they help? They attend each other’s talk shows in order to collaborate in sorting out the ‘bad’ guys.
One such anchor came to attend a programme carrying a ‘dossier’ on his laptop to confront Ansar Abbasi. He read a time-line of Geo TV’s coverage of Hamid Mir incident before the allegations against the agency’s chief were made public. The purpose was to establish that it was a well thought out campaign.
Disputing his timeline, Ansar asked the ‘patriotic’ anchor about his source of information, a question he was not expecting to face. He could not offer an answer thus strengthening the suspicions about the quarters pulling his strings. Once the programme ended, only then he could find a plausible answer telling Ansar that it was his personal ‘research.’
The same guy spread a rumour after my kidnapping incident in September 2010. He had shared his ‘intelligence’ with many of his colleagues: ‘Umar Cheema staged kidnapping incident to get immigration in USA. He is leaving soon.’ However, I remained in Pakistan throughout despite threats. Another ‘patriotic’ anchor can be watched propagating that the journalists aligned with Jang Group are defending their media house only because they are employees there. Incidentally, his employer leaves no chance to discredit Geo TV. One wonders that if his line of argument is merely based on his loyalty with the employer?
Yet another member of this ‘patriotic’ tribe threw a ‘bomb shell’ by asking Ansar if he had met with Pemra chief. The question was asked in a fashion as if a sin had been committed. Again, his source of information was somewhere else who are busy taping phones only to feed their friends in the media later on. That ‘patriotic’ anchor had also ‘reliably’ learned, nay, seen the draft of an apology that, he firmly believes, Geo TV is going to offer to the agencies. Reality may be contrary to this.
I am not immune from such attacks either. One of the ‘patriotic’ anchors spares no chance to make scandal out of nothing. Not long ago, he was heard boasting that ‘angels’ had summoned him to inform that he had joined the ranks of ‘anti-Pakistan’ journalists after doing shows on the Balochistan issue. Instead of braving against the odds, this anchor not only chose to fall in the line but also happily accepted the responsibility of attacking other ‘anti-Pakistan’ journalists.
He invited me in a show last week. He turned out to be a lethal combination of the arrogance and ignorance that earned him a lot of negative reviews on social media. He was fuming with anger over my reports demanding the legislation for intelligence agencies. The gentleman tried to discredit me on the grounds that Saleem Shahzad Commission report I had been frequently referring (with regard to intelligence reforms) had said that I didn’t appear to offer statement in the case of slain journalist. He was told about the wrong information conveyed to the Commission by the then-PFUJ President Pervez Shaukat.
Still upset, this ‘patriotic’ anchor did another programme inviting his like-minded colleagues with impeccable loyalty towards ‘angels’. I was invited but I refused to attend.
He decided to drag a non-profit center for investigative reporting into the debate in a desperate attempt to scandalize me. He did so despite the fact that I had conveyed to him to hold a programme on this matter once Geo issue is settled. He was adamant. He charged me with collecting donations in a fashion wherein the investigative reporting is done as per the wishes of the donor. That was totally baseless allegation. There was nowhere any mention like this on the website. As he built his argument on baseless allegations, it reached the point of culmination when he connected the ‘imagined’ donations with a systematic campaign against ‘angels’ only to conclude that it was part of an international conspiracy.
I watched his programme and my ‘conviction’ in absentia. Rarely, I felt as amused as by his programme. I saw something burning inside him. I could only feel pity for him. May he recover quickly. What happened with Hamid Mir is very tragic but it has shown us the vultures in media.