Prime Minister Najib, I got two questions here - do you trust the mainstream media, and do you believe in everything they write and publish?
Your immediate answers (I guess) would be - "of course I do (in publishing what I said and in putting the national and the government interest above all... that they have Barisan Nasional at their upkeep... and that their editorial policy should support the legitimate government..."
As for question no.2 - "they report the truth, we believe in them. Afterall, if they tell lies, their printing permit will be at stake..."
My apology, sir but when mainstream media is put to question, many would say that they belong to BN and its components like Umno, MCA, MIC and others. To some extent, they would ask 'who isn't Umno?'
At the NSTP on Thursday, you advised the mainstream media (namely NSTP, Media Prima, Utusan group, RTM, Bernama, Nanyang Siang Pau and a few more) to base their reporting on actual fact and figure (here). Which is wise and smart.
You were also admitting the fact that they (the mainstream media) was facing a stiff challenge from the new media such as blogs and websites (some of which are more factual and precise in reporting the truth).
Now, the problem with mainstream media is they cannot and are not allowed to tell the whole truth about anything. Why? To protect the government, the leaders, the banks, the GLCs and others. There are some blankets being applied. We could understand that as it is one of the ways to lure foreign investors to Malaysia and not to frighten and chase them away.
The mainstream media will always be very protective of the government and its leaders, regardless of whether certain policies do work or if some Cabinet members are involved in graft of other irregularities.
They become so protective that they are willing to lie to the rakyat and the readers. Politicians from the ruling party are also allowed to ride on this mainstream media for their political and personal interest, on reasons that should their wrongdoings are exposed, it would humiliate the government and will cost them dearly at the next elections.
The bosses of this mainstream media are all pro-government and the best 'Yes men' around. For instance, if Rosmah gets more or as much publicity as Najib, that is because those 'Yes men' feel oblige to report anything she does, from A to Z. Compared with other First Ladies in the whole world, none gets so much publicity and in some cases, we hardly read them in newspapers or watch them on television.
Yes, mainstream media is the greatest liar and the best 'Yes man'. So, when blogs and websites published what they refused to publish, it puts them in a limbo. When more people go for blogs and news portal, their readership and circlulation are very much affected.
But it leaves them to no choice but to go on lying and hoarding facts for the sake of their 'masters'.
That is why mainstream media should be free of political control. The government already have Bernama, RTM and its radio station. Tying Utusan to Umno, NSTP to Umno or Nanyang Siang Pau to MCA, for instance will only make them the government tools and propaganda machineries.
We are not living in the 60s, 70s and 80s where newspapers and TV stations were very important in disseminating news and information. The Information Department (Jabatan Penerangan) used to be very important in carrying out such tasks but I think it is high time for it (Jabatan Penerangan) to be dissolved for its redundancy.
My conclusion is, the mainstream media cannot help but to go on spreading lies, exaggerations and bias reports. The business is good but its political attachment will continue to change the rakyat's perception on them, that they are just a propaganda machine!