Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Salman Taseer Losing It

I don't want to tread on Bubs' territory here, but I couldn't resist posting this:
Salmaan Taseer said the entire country had come under the clutches of the media, as “it does not let any government work smoothly.”

He went on to say that anchorpersons of these TV channels think of themselves as some godly figures. He said if they (TV anchorpersons) were in the West, they would have long been handcuffed and arrested.

He said the private TV channels disseminate disinformation. He said the anchorpersons do not take care of others’ respect and talk non-sense. They made people dance in front of the camera.

He said in Pakistan there are no Madhuri Dixits, Amitabh Bachans and Aishwarya Rais and that was the reason why these channels are popular among the people.

I have three questions. First, does Salman Taseer realize that as the owner of the Daily Times, his railing against the "media" sounds a little odd?

Second, where, exactly, in the West would TV anchorpersons be handcuffed and arrested? A little specificity would do wonders for his argument.

Finally, on the Madhuri Dixit and Amitabh point: what?


bubs said...

Ahsan: I was actually writing a post on this right now. I'll be putting up a post on the Daily Times v/s talk show hosts war which should explain why Taseer is railing against the media. I'll also be defending Taseer and attacking the media for grossly violating his privacy.

AKS said...

God, I hate him. Didn't he write about the importance of freedom of expression in his Bhutto book?

And Ahsan forget Daily Times, the dude started WorldCall the country's biggest and shitiest cable operator, which makes all its money from airing these channels. And doesn't he also run Business Plus - a channel where anchors like Jasmine shriek on the top of their voices to get their message across?

All I can say, the dude's trying really hard to suck up to Our Messiah, Master of "Halal Sharab," Lord Hubby.

What happened S.T.? A.B. got you by your balls for your support of Musharraf; or is he zeroing in on some of those nice buildings you're building across Punjab; or maybe you're angling A.B. to fight the Big Cat of Punjab who may just be tempted to look into how you scored all those lucrative land development deals?

Rabia said...

Ahsan: Well, Geo just stopped transmitting in Karachi, right? What exactly is going on? I don't really see any inconsistency in the owner of the Daily Times criticizing the rest of the media -- the Daily Times is far more liberal-leaning than some of the talk shows and those are the ones he was referring to. I mean, there's an inconsistency in terms of freedom of speech rights, obviously, but not in terms of waging a war of ideas. (The Daily Times is clearly on the opposite side than say, Hamid Mir)

Bubs: does this have something to do with the photos of Taseer and his family that have been circulating around on the internet? It's a totally repulsive invasion of his privacy and the people passing them around should be ashamed of themselves.

Rabia said...

whoops, I should've made myself clearer -- what I meant was he's obviously wrong for not respecting the freedom of speech of the talk show hosts but it's understandable why he would be against them. (kind of an obvious point, actually)

Tazeen said...

This is nothing, PML-N leader from Punjab assembly held a press conference where he said, and I am quoting him word for word, " Taseer is drinking alcohol in governor house under the photo of Quaid-e-Azam (as if Quaid-e-Azam would have issues with Taseer's cognac)," The end note of that press conference was "Kya Pakistan is liye banaya diya tha?"

Rabia said...

tazeen: yeah, this whole incident is really crazy. do you think it's related to why geo tv is being censored suddenly?

karachi khatmal said...

Geo was censored, according to those in the know, due to the mustafa kamal fake mayor story.

also, rana sanaullah, provincial law minister (what is it with pakistani law ministers?) was the one who printed the various taseeer family pictures and showed them to the media. he then came on a channel and asked how could the governor commit such a sin? In response to whether he thought he was violating the taseer family's privacy, he replied the pictures were available on the net.

the anchor replied "sir net pay to bahut si cheezain mil jati hain..."

bubs said...

Geo was taken off the air in Sindh because of the MQM. And, yeah, the media picking up on the whole Taseer family pictures was really disgusting.

There's also an interesting battle of words going on between Talat Hussain and Najam Sethi/ Salmaan Taseer. Sethi had called Talat a "religious populist" who supported terrorists and Talat in turn devoted a whole show to bashing Najam Sethi and Salmaan Taseer. I have to side with the Daily Times on this one. Despite their numerous faults, they have been the only consistently liberal voice in the media over the past couple of years.

Anonymous said...

let's get some clarity here people.
1) I agree that posting pictures of the governor's family is an invasion of privacy BUT the fact that those pictures were taken at Governor House means that this privacy was not invaded. Gov House is a public place and is to be used for public functions and these functions are paid for by the public hence what goes on inside is public purview. If the Governor does not want his family/personal life splashed in the press then he should conduct these events at his personal residence and use his personal funds. If in that event the pictures are splashed he can actually sue in court.
2) As the owner of a media group in Pakistan, Governor Taseer has a clear conflict of interest not to mention his interest in businesses mainly in the Punjab. When Bloomberg became the mayor of New York he was mandated by Federal Law to put all his assets into a blind trust. a blind trust means that someone manages your asset and you are not allowed to communicate with that manager throughout the duration of your term. Taseer has leveraged his relationship with the Daily Times and Business Plus and the Urdu paper they have started to the hilt and this doesnt quite go down too well.
3) Being "consistently liberal" is not quite a commendation. DT has an agenda which is quite clear and one wonders how a paper can survive commercially with a circulation of 10,000 copies. Journalism is about facts and not columns or op-eds alone

AKS said...

I had no knowledge of this whole 'scandal' and thus I think my previous comment is a bit harsh. I can now understand why the Governor would be so pissed off.

@ Bubs

"they have been the only consistently liberal voice in the media over the past couple of years."

Do you think this is because there is a limited readership for 'liberal' views? (Is it shrinking?)

Or is it that most newspaper owners and editors support a right wing ideology?

@ anon 620

1) The Governor's private residence within the Governor House is a private space not a public space. It's a perk that comes with the job, much like how I get a certain amount of petrol from my firm - the firm has no right to ask me where I go with the petrol. (Okay this sounds too basic, but I hope you get my general point.)

And mind you, a majority of the photographs were not taken in the Governor House.

The publication of these photographs clearly constitutes an invasion of the family's privacy.

Moreover, since the photographs are not not ones taken by the paparazzi, they must have been procured by other means, most probably by someone accessing their computer. And this act is entirely illegal and any person responsible for procuring the photographs, distributing them and publishing them could be held liable for a number of offenses.

2) I think that there may be a conflict of interest, and I think we need clearer rules in this area. But we're unlikely to ever see these since all our leaders have interests that could come in conflict with their duties - Zardari's sugar mills, Nawaz's industrial complex, Fazlur Rahman and his buildings, etc.

But as you point out in your third point, Daily Times has a limited circulation, therefore one could argue that he has very limited impact. He's certainly no Berlusconi.

And let's not forget, the family behind another more prominent media house has held prominent positions in governments past and present.

3) Well actually a newspaper is about facts AND columns AND op-eds. A newspaper has every right to adopt an editorial policy that is aligned with a particular ideology. I'm pretty sure every newspaper and magazine in the world exhibits allegiance to a particular ideology.

And this need not be part of some 'grand editorial plan' (e.g. Fox News). A liberal media mogul like Taseer may want to hire, and is likely to tolerate an editor who adheres to the same kind of political philosophy; the editor is may then hire journalists who don't stray too far from his views, and you may then end up with a newspaper that is liberal. Let me put it this way, a journalist writing for Ummat is unlikely to be offered a job by the editor of Aaj Kal and he is equally unlikely to want to work there.

karachi khatmal said...

the pictures are not from the governor house... again, those in the know have confirmed that the pictures of the dinner were from an event before taseer even became governor.

but really, just cuz the daily times is liberal doesn't mean jack shit in terms of commendations. like the anti-war right wing, the liberal papers in pakistan are consistently more conservative than their counterparts. moreover, as you guys have pointed out repeatedly before as well, liberal or not the DT has some pretty lax editing and fact checking going on as well.

and finally, you don't diss the most bad ass muthafucka TV journalist of Pakistan just like that. don't they know that talat is a rock star? he did a series from effin bajaur. no one else has pulled that off yet, and believe me its not an easy fucking job.

Anonymous said...

sorry anon 620. that's not how it works.
1) The Governor House may be a perk but it is the official residence of the Governor who is a public servant. Since the public pays for this expense they have a right to know what happens in their in terms of entertainment etc. Your petrol analogy does not work. According to the "rules" which we do not seem to care about anymore, even the Governor's offiaal car is only supposed to be used for offical functions and duties not to carry the begum or go get sabzi. This applies to all public servants. there used to be a time when public servants actually adhered to these rules. I do not condone the pictures or how they are being used but if there's a do on the premises then the public has a right to know. Governor Taseer's family has had issues in the past of people breaking into their computers so maybe they should take better care of who accesses their computers.
2) There is a clear cut conflict of interest. Zardari or Sharif's holdings or business does not matter. two wrongs do not make a right. if we are to change as a nation and a society then we should expect better from our leaders, not say "chalta he".
3) again you point to "another media" house. two wrongs do not make a right. also you seem to have your facts wrong. Najam Sethi is an equity partner in the Daily Times. He is not a mere paid employee. Hence, his interest in DT's sales/positioning is more than that of a paid editor. Newspapers do have a slant and that is fine. My problem is when this slant is used to advance business/personal/political agendas. How many times has Business Plus interviewed Salman Taseer and how many times has it interviewed previous Governors?
I rest my case.

Rabia said...

you think Talat Hussain is a religious populist?! I guess that's similar to how some people in the US consider Nir Rosen a traitor. Personally, I think they are both fantastic journalists and if we had more people like that, we would not all be so clueless about everything.

AKS said...

@ anonymous

1) My petrol analogy may not have been the greatest, but I'm sticking by the rest of my point.

2) If you read my comment you'll note that I wasn't condoning the actions of our politicians, just highlighting a practice.

I certainly don't agree with you in that there is a "clear cut conflict of interest."

3) Dude did you even read my comment? Seriously!

"Newspapers do have a slant and that is fine. My problem is when this slant is used to advance business/personal/political agendas."

What??? Newspapers do you use their views to push an agenda, and if they're slanted towards the left then they're advancing left leaning views. Right?

@ Rabia

I wouldn't go as far as calling Talat Hussain a fantastic journalist, he is a good journalist and a very good interviewer.

He can be too dramatic at times - this was best captured by the 4 Man Show in a parody on the episode which aired right after the 12th May incident.

While I respect his obvious talents, I'm not entirely fond of him.

And while he may not be a religious populist, I certainly think that his political inclination is center-right.

Rabia said...

I haven't watched his show since september so maybe he's moved further to the right since then? I didn't think his shows from fata were particularly right-wing, and even in the summer he would always be talking about the need for owning the war against taliban and for the parliament to have a session on the situation in fata. He is no Hamid Mir. khair, I understand that is hard for anyone to be a centrist in Pakistan because the right-wing is so strong compared to the liberals that one automatically ends up being seen as an enabler for the right, and who knows, maybe that is true.

bubs said...

Rabia: I think Talat is definitely a populist although perhaps not a religious one. I also think he's a fantastic journalist. And personally I love the guy while I think Najam is a bit of a dick. But I agree with him that Talat has downplayed the militant threat and his hatred for Musharraf often caused him to go over the top.

AKS said...

@ bubs

There's been further escalation in the Sethi-Talat saga, with Najam using the leader in today's Friday Times to launch an attack on Talat.

Now, my sympathies are with Najam and the gang on this issue, but did he really have to call himself an "internationally acclaimed editor?"

Anonymous said...

i may be a month late in commenting on this post, but najam sethi IS an internationally acclaimed editor isnt he? how many desi editors have been interviewed by BBC? and how mant write for the economist and times and what not.


- DT devotee