The News (Jang) Uses Double-Standard for PPP, PML-N

Jul 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Jang, The News

The News (Jang Group)The News has had a difficult time lately with its star journalists using double standards for politicians that they like and don’t like. Mostly this has been making excuses for PML-N and giving no mercy to PPP. This would be fine if it was only on the opinion page, but rather it has been more and more affecting the entire newspaper. The latest example exposes a bias across the entire news team.

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif is given front-page coverage for speaking out against the PA resolution against media,when it is his party that is responsible for the measure. Shahbaz Sharif (PML-N) also receives prominent coverage for speaking out against the same resolution despite his party being the source. Meanwhile, PPP MNA Sherry Rehman is only covered briefly inside the newspaper for her statements against the resolution.

But it is not simply this giving more coverage to one political party taking a popular position (in effect an attempt to convey that the other party is not speaking out), there is a distinct double-standard at work if you look at how the newspaper treats PML-N and PPP.

The coverage of PML-N leaders speaking out against the resolution that their own members passed is meant to demonstrate this this was the action of some rogue MPAs who were not following the party line. In fact, The News takes this PML-N talking point at face value in their editorial today.

PML-N leader has called for the expulsion of the mover of the resolution, member of his own party and has accused him of trying to cover up his crime of faking his degree. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that he ‘cherishes the free media as much as he likes an independent judiciary in the country.’ A belated damage control effort within PML-N appears to be underway.

Obviously, it is possible for some MPAs to act out of turn and The News is perfectly happy to give the benefit of doubt to Nawaz and Shahbaz.

But when it comes to PPP, the standard is different. Instead of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, The News takes the position of ‘assumed guilty’! In an adjacent editorial about a leaked letter that is allegedly by NAB Prosecutor General Irfan Qadir questioning the reinstatement of CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry, The News lays the blame firmly on the PPP.

If they were not the views of the government of Mr Gilani, then whose views were they and what was afoot with Mr Qadir seemingly playing a lone game? NAB is under the control of the Law Ministry which itself is piloted by Law Minister Babar Awan. Presumably the Law Ministry is accountable to somebody at a higher level and who else would that be but the prime minister – unless ministers have been given a freehand? Babar Awan increasingly seems to be a law unto himself.

So where does this leave Mr Gilani and his statement that Mr Qadir’s views were not those of his government? They might not be the views of his government, but again, his might not be the only government operational today; which might also explain why the law minister is able to act as he pleases – above or below the law.

Do you see what they have done? Nawaz and Shahbaz are praised for speaking out against out-of-line party members, but PM Gilani is insinuated to be a liar and the government is to be held accountable for any misplaced comma of a PPP member. This is a double standard so obvious that it is hard not to think that The News is acting not as journalism but as propaganda to promote one political party over another.

That is not all. Other so-called ‘journalists’ for The News continue to use innuendo to smear politicians they don’t like (PPP only).

Tariq Butt begins his column about the selection of a new NAB chief by insinuating that PM Gilani is trying to appoint a ‘crony’.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is incapacitated under the case law and statute to appoint a crony as the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) because he has to convince two other key consultees about the credentials of such a nominee before notifying his selection, legal experts say.

The remainder of the article discusses the legal process and requirements for appointing chairman of the NAB. There is no presentation of any evidence that Gilani or anyone in government is trying to appoint anyone but the best, most qualified person. Instead, Tariq Butt simply assumes this is the case and smears the PM by implying as much.

The pro-PML-N bias of The News is easily proven today. Obviously, editorial pages are for opinions and the authors can take whatever position they choose. But when the opinions of the reporters and editors are so obviously using double standards and those double standards begin to color the entire reporting – that is not journalism but is political propaganda.

Perhaps Jang Group needs to update the name of its English-language newspaper from The News International to The News (PML-N). Then the readers would at least know what to expect. Better, though, would be for Jang to require some objectivity and fact-based reporting so that The News can be useful to the entire nation, and not only one political party.

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