Geo's "Shattered Glass" Moment?

May 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Geo TV, Jang

Janet Cooke is a name that is probably not as familiar among the general public as it is among professional journalists. Ms Cooke was an American reporter for The Washington Post newspaper who won a Pulitzer Prize for a story she wrote about a small child addicted to heroin. The article was obviously considered excellent to win such a prestigious award. It was also fiction.

Janet Cooke had conned one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world. The Washington Post‘s immediate reaction was to go on the defensive. How could it be that their star reporter was lying? Still, though, the newspaper investigated the claims and discovered that they were true. The newspaper publicly apologized and returned the award.

Geo is having a similar moment today. Perhaps their star reporter Hamid Mir is innocent, but there have been serious charges made and evidence is piling up. Like The Washington Post, Geo appears to be very defensive. At least outwardly, there is little sign that the news agency is investigating what are very serious charges. This is understandable, to a degree – Hamid Mir is not someone who just walked in off the street. He is a veteran reporter that has many accomplishments.

But Hamid Mir is also a person. And people make mistakes sometimes. Everyone does. In fact, it’s not unusual for respected news organizations to have these problems from time to time. Like Janet Cooke at The Washington Post, there was Jayson Blair at The New York Times also and there was Stephen Glass at The New Republic also. A movie was even made about the story of Stephen Glass:

All of these reporters were well liked. They were nice, intelligent people who got caught up in a web of mistakes that grew from out-of-control egos combined with the fact that they were working for some of the most respected news organizations in the world. They became Media Baboos in their own minds. They believed that whatever they said was true simply because they said it.

Jang and its various news agencies demand transparency and accountability from the government. This is a proper function of media in a democracy, and Jang has many excellent reporters who do their job very well. But in order to be a legitimate and respected check on government, a successful news organization must provide the same transparency and accountability itself. This is why it is so important for Jang’s news agencies to be seen as acting in pursuit of the truth, whatever that may be.

So far, Hamid Mir’s response to the allegations has been rather silly. First he told The Guardian that it was a conspiracy by a blog controlled by the Ambassador Husain Haqqani. Perhaps he later found out that the blog in question – Let Us Build Pakistan – has posted materials critical of Haqqani, as well as many other PPP officials, from time to time. He has not mentioned this claim since.

Actually, this is not the first time that Hamid Mir has attacked the blog as being part of some big conspiracy. As we have defended them in the past, Hamid Mir did not provide any facts or evidence at that time either. It seems that these bloggers are simply an easy target for Hamid Mir when he gets upset. I don’t know why he has such a vendatta against them.

This accusation against the blog highlights an important part of Hamid Mir’s problem. In order to find out that they had published some articles critical of Husain Haqqani, all I had to do was use Google. If bloggers can use Google to check and verify facts, surely someone like Hamid Mir should be able to do the same.

This is a deep problem that we have in the media – reporters who do not seem to feel that they are responsible for checking their facts. Many of our most famous journalists seem to believe that simply wishing for something to be true is enough. Jang is not the only organization with some journalists affected by this problem – far from it – but they have been under the microscope since the Hamid Mir case has come to light. This actually gives Jang a great opportunity to take a leadership role and speak out against the problem, setting an example for other news agencies.

The other major part of the response has been for some of Hamid Mir’s colleagues to cast some wide accusations about a conspiracy to silence Jang for criticizing the government. But many news organizations besides Jang are critical of the government. Journalists look at the government with a critical eye every day in Dawn, Daily Times, The Nation and on all the TV shows. This is part of their job. Some reporters do it very well, and are able to critically analyse any government without having a political agenda guide their work.

It is interesting to note that the reporters who are so loudly crying out about a conspiracy to silence them, are really only the very small number of reporters who seem to have such a hard time checking their facts and providing evidence for their claims. Everyone else – the reporters who do their work and write excellent articles for their agencies – seem to know that they have nothing to fear from an investigation into the Hamid Mir tapes.

Jang Group is in an unfortunate situation, and I feel quite a bit of sympathy for all of their publishers, editors, and reporters who do good, honest work. Accusations against a member of their staff hurt. But we do not have Media Baboos in this country. Jang Group is bigger than Hamid Mir. If he did nothing wrong, it will come out and everyone will move on. On the other hand, if it turns out that Hamid Mir made some mistakes – if he was caught up in a moment and got carried away – Jang will be doing the best for itself and the media industry as a whole if it shows that it did a full and complete investigation.

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  1. Mary Habeck, a professor and researcher on political Islam at Johns Hopkins University, said of Mr. Mir: “Hamid Mir has crossed over from being an observer and journalist to an actor who is now taking part in things he is supposedly just reporting on.”
    =========================
    Terrorist hit puts Pakistani reporter under fire Taliban tape raises doubts By Eli LakeUpdated: 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/24/terrorist-hit-puts-pakistani-reporter-under-fire/

    Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, regarded as Osama bin Laden’s official biographer, is facing a backlash after a recording surfaced of his reported conversation with Taliban terrorists revealing a discussion of a kidnapped intelligence officer who was later killed by Punjabi terrorists.
    Mr. Mir is best known for his access to the senior leadership of the Taliban and al Qaeda and also as a television anchor for Pakistan’s GEO-TV. He is one of the only journalists to interview Osama bin Laden after Sept. 11, 2001, and he also had several interviews with the terrorist leader in the late 1990s.

    Over the weekend, Jang Media, which owns GEO-TV, announced that it is investigating published claims that Mr. Mir offered advice to an unidentified Pakistani Taliban operative regarding Khalid Khwaja, a former Pakistani intelligence officer who was kidnapped on March 26 by the Asian Tigers, or Punjabi Taliban. On April 30, Mr. Khwaja’s captors killed him. Mr. Mir is suing a media company for libel for printing a story based on the tape. Mr. Mir has told other Pakistan media outlets that his voice is not on the 13-minute audiotape posted last week to several Pakistani websites. He has said he is being set up. Mr. Mir did not respond to e-mails requesting comment. Mary Habeck, a professor and researcher on political Islam at Johns Hopkins University, said of Mr. Mir: “Hamid Mir has crossed over from being an observer and journalist to an actor who is now taking part in things he is supposedly just reporting on.”

    A U.S. official who is informed about the matter said Mr. Mir has been known for voicing anti-American sentiments for a long time. “It’s an open question as to whether he’s crossed the line from someone with very good access to terrorists to someone who’s involved in their activities,” the official said. “This audio recording is the most serious indication to date that Mir may be more than just an extremist sympathizer.” The audiotape posted on Pakistani websites features a conversation between Mr. Mir and an unidentified Taliban officer. The conversation centers around Mr. Khwaja, a former major in the Pakistani army and a retired officer for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s security and intelligence agency. Mr. Khwaja, according to Bill Roggio, the editor of the Long War Journal, fought alongside bin Laden during the campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    In the conversation, the Taliban operative asks for Mr. Mir’s opinion of Mr. Khwaja and the journalist seals his fate by claiming the captured ex-intelligence officer is connected to the CIA and an Islamic sect known as the Qadianis, a group considered infidels and traitors by al Qaeda and the Taliban. “I think that Khalid Khwaja not only has links with the CIA but also works as an agent of the Qadianis,” a U.S. government translation of the phone transcript said. “And I am very sorry that he visits the tribal areas and meets the people here and there.”

    Mr. Mir then goes on to say that Mr. Khwaja had contact in the 1980s with William Casey, President Reagan’s first CIA director. Mr. Mir also says Mr. Khwaja double-crossed jihadists in 2007 during the siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad. Mr. Khwaja’s son, Osama Khalid, has said he will be suing Mr. Mir in Pakistani court, claiming the conversation led to the slaying of his father. In a statement to the Pakistani press, the grieving son said: “We are going to the police and the Supreme Court in a few days to get a case registered against Mir as he was instrumental in the murder of my father by the Punjabi Taliban.”

    Mr. Roggio said on Monday, “Hamid Mir’s discussion with the Taliban commander proves what many of us have known for years: He is more than just a jihadist sympathizer. He serves at times as an active participant by providing advice to the terror groups.” This latest episode is not Mr. Mir’s first brush with controversy. In 2007, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Mr. Mir was a Taliban sympathizer and banned his television show on GEO-TV for four months during a period of emergency law. © Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

  2. When Hamid Mir’s Damage Suit is pending in the Court of Law then why this Open Contempt of Court? Last night 25 May 2010 GEO TV “Kehnay Mein Kiya Harj Hai”, Hamid Mir did it again without naming Sheikh Rasheed, he named Sheikh Rasheed in Tape Controversy. Mohammad Malik, Mr. Masood Sharif, Mazhar Abbas also participated and Mohammad Malik [Senior Correspondent] was again being Sanctimonious [Malik filed a report in Jang and News on Govt Plans against Media.
    Introduction of Mohammad Malik: Kamran Khan, Mohammad Malick, The News, GEO TV & Corruption in Print Media. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/08/kamran-khan-mohammad-malick-news-geo-tv.html

    “QUOTE”

    Journalist Corruption Scandal – Mohammad Malick JUNE 3, 2009.

    Courtesy: PKPOLITICS

    We always see the Journalists giving lectures on morality, ethics and pretending to be advocates of rule of law. These journalists will always highlight the wrongdoings of anyone else in the society, but when it comes to their own community, they unite and act as mafia.

    One typical example is the criminal silence across the board by all Pakistani Journalists on Nazir Naji’s use of abusive language [Listen – Nazir Naji Abusing Journalist APRIL 19, 2009
    against another junior journlaist. Isn’t it shameful for those preists cum journalists who could not gather moral courage to utter a single word to condemn this disgusting behaviour of a disgusting fellow journalist?

    Many of these journalists have received favours from other corrupts and criminals of society, acting as partners in their crimes. Not all journalists are corrupt but at least one crime has been committed by all the journalists, and that is the Silence to cover crimes of their fellows.

    PKPolitics will make an effort to expose such black sheep to set a good example of Citizen Journalism and to bring out the hidden truth.

    This is part-1 of a series of stories exposing scams and corruption scandals of some Pakistani Journalists. It is about a journalist who can be easily called the Al Capone of Pakistani journalism, Mohammad Malick. Some details with documentary evidences are attached on this page.

    Details of his plot scams and benefits from different Governments are as follows:

    1- Advertising Agency and Production House: (Media Magic and Pink Productions)

    2- ESP Initiatives (his recreational company that was given 25 acres land in Islamabad)

    3- Marketing Head of PTV with Rs 0.5 million per month salary under Musharraf Regime

    4- Was allotted a Category 1 plot of 500 square yards in Islamabad

    5- Malick Zong

    Details:

    1- Advertising Agency and Production House:

    a- According to official website of Board of Investment (BOI), Media Magic is registered in the name of “Malik Muhammad Malick”. Muhammad Malick used to run his advertising business while being a journalist. He was among defaulters of PTV but no one could dare to ask him any question because of his journalistic influence. According to official documents [http://vid09.pkpolitics.com/files/Document-2.pdf] presented by the PTV before a subcommittee of Senate Standing Committee on Information Broadcasting, Media Magic defaulted PTV with an amount of Rs 15.311 million (5.343 + 5.615 + 4.353 = 15.311). b- The other company Pink Production is basically registered in the name of Anila Malick, wife of Muhammad Malick. However, the business of this company was also controlled by Muhammad Malick according to almost everyone in PTV. According to same document Pink Production also defaults PTV with an amount of Rs 15.381 million ( 10.733 + 4.648 = 15.381 ).

    2- ESP Initiatives (his recreational company that was given 25 acres land in Islamabad)

    Musharraf’s misrule of the last 9 years also saw a major development project on the land around the Rawal Dam, Islamabad as a Public Recreational Park.

    The land allocated for the project was substantial and was located in an area with astronomical property prices. In off the record conversations, honest and upstanding CDA officials revealed that the whole project was a huge scam meant to grab this piece of real estate for the land mafia. Without the phony Public Park project, it would have been impossible for the land mafia of Islamabad to get their hands on this real estate because the original Islamabad Master Plan explicitly forbade its use for residential developments. According to reliable sources within the CDA, the allotments of portions of this land were made only to line the pockets of several high level power brokers within the Musharraf regime.

    The unnamed CDA sources further reveal that the main beneficiary of this massive fraud was Muhammad Malick who got 25 acres of this land. In comparison, the remaining 9 parties got 3 to 9 acres in the same area. The allotment process of the land was completely fraudulent and without due process. Muhammad Malick dealt with different officials within the CDA using his influence. He used multiple channels of authority to get the 25 acres allotted to him by hook or by crook. Malick played his cards beautifully and one of his most ingenious maneuvers was to show himself as the sole proprietor/owner of a new company “Esp Initiatives”. This shell company had no documented experience in recreational real estate development while the regulations in the allotment process called for a company with extensive international experience in the field.

    The CDA sources disclosed that the estimated earning potential of this piece of real estate was around Rs.62.5 million (Rs.6.25 Crore) while it was allotted to Muhammad Malick for the paltry sum of Rs.0.3 million (Rs.3 Lakhs) per annum. According to the CDA sources, this allotment to Muhammad Malick was the largest single land allotment to an individual in Pakistani history looking at land prices.

    The lease agreement of this land between Muhammad Malick and CDA is attached in 3- Marketing Head of PTV with Rs 0.5 million per month salary under Musharraf Regime

    Malick joined PTV as its marketing head in 2007. His monthly package there was about Rs 500,000. He was at the same time running his own business of advertising agencies and become a defaulter of PTV in this regard as mentioned above.

    4- Was alloted a Category 1 plot of 500 square yards in Islamabad

    During all this process, yet another wheeling and dealing was going on between CDA and FGEHF which was facilitated by non other than Muhammad Malick. This was meant to create some plots in luxurious sector I-8 of Islamabad where in fact no plots were available. Plots in these luxurious sectors, where price of a Category-1 plot measuring 500 square yards now approaches to Rs 30 to Rs 40 million, are created by finishing green belts and playgrounds. However, in this classic case some six plots were created by shifting six vacant plots of CDA official’s quota to FGEHF. Present CDA officers did so because the experience of recent years has shown that by the time CDA officials qualify for the plots after acquiring relevant experience they are transferred from CDA. According to this deal, which was finalized with mediation of Muhammad Malick, CDA officials and all the six members were given the offer of allotment of one plot each in far-flung sector G-14 so in return they were to create and give six plots to FGEHF. This story is available on The News Website with the heading “Complicated issue of plot allotments in Islamabad!”.

    One of these plots in I-8 was also allotted to Muhammad Malick in return of his services during the deal. As everyone in CDA and all concerned government departments knew about this allotment to Muhammad Malick, which was made in complete violation of rules, DG-FGEHF had also verified this allotment on record. However, DG-FGEHF was left with no option but to shift this I-8 plot of Muhammad Malick in G-14 , as those journalists who were allotted plots in G-14 started compelling the whole government machinery to transfer their plots in I-8 as well.

    Allottment of plot to Malick was completely illegal. He never applied for the plot. His application number on his allotment letter is given as “Zero”. While talking to the @admin of PKPolitics, he claimed that he had applied in 2004, but in fact he hadn’t applied and documents didn’t show his name even in the waiting seniority list which was prepared in 2005 after allotment of plots to 168 journalists under a devised and publicized policy. His application was later kept in the record in connivance of information ministry officials. His allotment was made secretly. He didn’t deserve a category-1 plot. No allotments could be made in sector I-8. Even in sector G-14 his allotment was illegal by all means made in complete violation of rules and regulations and secretly. It was made purely on the basis of his influence as being a journalist . His allotment letter is attached http://vid09.pkpolitics.com/files/Document-4.pdf.

    5- Malick Zong

    Beside all this CDA officials say that after launching of a cellular company Zong last year, it was Muhammad Malick, who controlled all affairs of this company which were connected with CDA. He managed to get NOCs for the Zong towers erected in capital territory. Malik is known circles of CDA as Malick Zong.

  3. Dazed and Confused: Rauf Klasra, Ansar Abbasi & Brigadier (R) Imtiaz.
    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/09/dazed-and-confused-rauf-klasra-ansar.html

  4. Journalist Corruption Scandal – Mohammad Malick
    http://pkpolitics.com/2009/06/03/journalist-corruption-scandal-mohammad-malick/

  5. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the top body of media and custodian of ‘freedom of speech and civil liberties’,
    ==================================
    I am forced to believe that some elements in the intelligence used my media colleagues against me because I was not in control of any intelligence outfit. One of my crimes was that I wrote an article against a serving general of the Pakistan Army. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/25/hamid-mir-responds/
    Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who has been linked by several Pakistani websites to the killing of a former intelligence official by the Taliban, refutes the accusations in this e-mail sent to The Washington Times in response to an article that appeared in Tuesday’s editions:
    Dear Sir,
    The Washington Times has published a story today “Terrorist Hit Puts Pakistani Reporter Under Fire” (by Eli Lake – Reporter – The Washington Times – 25 May 2010)

  6. Osama seeks FIR against Hamid Mir, Osman Punjabi Daily Times Monitor Wednesday, May 26, 2010 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20105\26\story_26-5-2010_pg1_7

    LAHORE: Osama Khalid, son of Khalid Khawaja, on Tuesday submitted an application in the Shalimar Police Station for registration of an FIR against TV talk show host Hamid Mir and suspected terrorist Osman Punjabi for the murder of his father, a private TV channel reported.
    Khalid Khawaja, a former Inter-Services Intelligence official, was murdered by a relatively less-known Asian Tigers militant group on April 23.

    Osama alleged that the talk show host had instigated the terrorists to murder his father. He said the application was based on the audiotape of Mir’s conversation with a member of the Taliban, and he was ready to prove in court that the audio clip was original. Khalid Khawaja, a former Inter-Services Intelligence official, was murdered by a relatively less-known Asian Tigers militant group on April 23.

    Osama alleged that the talk show host had instigated the terrorists to murder his father. He said the application was based on the audiotape of Mir’s conversation with a member of the Taliban, and he was ready to prove in court that the audio clip was original.

  7. Ansar Abbasi has almost indicted Hamid Mir in the case of Khalid Khawaja: Live with Talat – 20 May 2010 MAY 20, 2010 . in Live with Talat Naseem Zehra (Anchor), Zafar Abbas (Residen Editor Dawn), Kashif abbassi (Anchor) and Insar abbasi (Analyst) in Today’s episode of Live with Talat with Talat Hussain – http://pkpolitics.com/2010/05/20/live-with-talat-20-may-2010/

  8. Tonight with Jasmeen – 23 May 2010 MAY 23, 2010 . NO COMMENTS in Tonight with Jasmeen Jasmeed discusses the issue of Hamid Mir’s audio tape in today’s episode. http://pkpolitics.com/2010/05/23/tonight-with-jasmeen-23-may-2010/

    Ansar Abbasi quotes above in Jasmin Manzoor Program that He talked with Hamid Mir and Hamid said that its not his voice and then Ansar deny himself that Hamid also said that as per Hamid Mir “some of his old calls were mixed and rejoined!!! What a Tragedy. Is this what you call Colleague or Professional Courtesy. Shame on you Mr. Ansar.

    Hamid Mir in Washington Times gives clean chit to the PPP Government and Ansar say that Hamid says that TOP PPP Woman is involved???? LOL What a joke.

  9. […] « Geo’s “Shattered Glass” Moment? […]

  10. Dear Mr. Aamir,

    It seems you have some enmity with GEO and Hamid Mir. Country is facing great problems and you are busy in finding holes.

    This web page’s name should be ‘Let us destroy Pakistan’.
    For Pakistan/Islams enemies this only web is enough to spread hatred.
    I am not inspired by anyone but extremely surprised to see how this web page is rubbing into Pakistan’s wounds.
    You seem to be a good writer, why don’t you do some constructive work for building Islam/Pakistan’s good image?

    Regards,
    Z. Ehsan

  11. […] have written before about the cases of Janet Cooke and Stephen Glass – American reporters who were caught writing fake s…. These two and many others have been fired for what is considered an unforgivable act in American […]

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