Let’s Call it by its Proper Name — Propaganda
A reader has criticised me for attacking the bias in NZ reporting on Fiji and not commenting on the restriction placed on the Fiji media that, he says, is forced to publish Fiji government propaganda. Fair enough, I suppose, though I have repeatedly urged that PER be lifted and media restrictions cease. There is a difference, however: the Fiji media is not free; ours claims to be free, but still publishes propaganda. How else can the barrage of heavily slanted stories, old photos, and derogatory cartoons be classed.
The propaganda has been particularly bad over the past few days, and continued last night in the TVOne news when....
Barbara Dreaver sorrowfully told listeners about the “rapidly changing scene” in Fiji. The story was stitched together from four pieces: 1) Two friends of Ratu Tevita had been questioned by the police about his escape, as indeed we could expect. Barbara, however, seemed to suggest something sinister in their being questioned.
For the record, the two friends are New Zealander Anthony Fullman who, I’m told, was Ratu Tevita’s best man, and Tim McBride, a US passport-holder, who had several phone conversations with Ratu Tevita before his escape — and he is a suspect in aiding the escape. [P.S. I was in error. It was Fullman who made the phone calls. Apologies.]
2) We then learnt that Tim’s Mother in Rarotonga is worried that he has not replied to her phone calls. The media inference was that he couldn't reply which runs counter to a anti-government blog CoupFourPointFive posting at 3:47pm today: “It's not known if McBride, who is a surfing instructor, has been questioned or taken into custody by police. But sources say he was seen out last night. “ Not known to have been questioned, to have been taken into custody, but as large as life in downtown Suva last night!
3) And to further develop the “developing story,” Patrick Holmes, of Amnesty International NZ, said he’s heard several stories of people being taken to the barracks where they have been physically and sexually abused and intimidated — though when and what this has to do with the police questioning, I do not know.
The use of film footage taken during the 2000 Speight Coup also seemed inappropriate.
4) Finally, we had Ratu Tevita repeating a previously reported item, that he knew of people taken to the barracks and being beaten. This is more than likely but Ratu Tevita has denied that he ever had anything to do with the beatings, which Jim Sherlock (see Sunday's posting) says is not true. So the pot could be calling the kettle black.
The choice of words also displays lack of balance. Teletext, accessible for those with television sets, for example, had this news on Fiji last night: “A New Zealanders has been rounded up for grilling… (he is the) latest target of Frank Bainimarama’s government … (he was) pulled in for questioning…”
If the sum of these and similar reports do not add up to propaganda, I don’t know what would.