Media-gate and the Chief Justice of Pakistan

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 20.06.12

Money matters. More money, more matters. One such matter has surfaced to illustrate the
deceptive and malicious face of the electronic media. On June 13, a talk show (Dunya
Special) on a private TV channel (Dunya TV) was telecasting something like the
performance of Begum Nawazish Ali who was concealing Ali Saleem under her feminine
facade. The truth-hiding strategy, media-gate, has slandered the Chief Justice of Pakistan,
breached the trust of the viewers and eroded the credibility of all talk shows.

This one talk show indicates that the anchorpersons have now mastered not only the job of
hosting a talk show but also the task of engineering situations without letting the viewers
apprehend the point where they are being hoodwinked. Had the off-air clips of that talk
show not uploaded on a social media, YouTube, no one would have become able to
question the nature – original or artificial – of the talk show. The off-air clips have an
important bearing on the on-air clips, as the former reveal the contrived construct of the
latter. Secondly, whether or not the off-air clips are a part of the talk show is the headache
of the TV channel concerned; the viewers now consider them an intertwined portion of the
talk show in question.

To upload the off-air clips may be illegal but see what has been debunked. If Juliana
Assange can be appreciated globally for showing the true face of the US government to the
world through his Wikileaks, why can’t the person who did this job be appreciated for
showing the Pakistanis the true face of Pakistani electronic media and for unraveling the
conspiracy against the Chief Justice of Pakistan?

This was the first time someone uploaded the off-air clips of a talk show. That act was
unanticipated by the host (Mubashar Luqman), the hostess (Meher Bukhari) and the guest
(Malik Riaz Hussain). In fact, they were caught unawares.

The off-air clips can be viewed from two angles: first, the conversation took place between
the host and the hostess and with the guest; secondly, the gestures exchanged between
them. Nevertheless, both aspects shared one common trait: the participants were
assembled for one common cause of performing the initial spadework on which more such
talk shows could be erected either to force the Chief Justice of Pakistan to step down or at
least to make him stay away from the Bahria Town cases pending in the Supreme Court.

In a talk show, the trajectory of which is not predetermined, questions unknown to a guest
are asked. The guest responds and, sometimes, commits mistakes while, at other times,
gives impressive answers. On the basis of that weakness and strength, the talk show
moves on towards its logical conclusion. However, in the talk show in question, the natural
flair was compromised deliberately because the guest knew the questions while the host
and hostess knew the answers. Secondly, the exchange of gestures in the off-air clips
indicated that the show was moving on as per the expectations of the participants. Thirdly,
there was left no space for the guest to do a mistake.

Commonly, the objective of a talk show is to discuss an issue, the conclusion of which is not
predestined. Unfortunately, in the talk show in question, the conclusion was already known
to all the participants. Hence, the talk show did not discuss an issue but feigned to do so. It
was a Malik Riaz Show. The demeanour of the show signified that there was no need of any
host or hostess around.

The host and hostess acted as facilitators of what the guest wanted to project. The guest
was a party to an issue (Malik Riaz vs Arslan Iftikhar); the host and hostess colluded with
the guest and consequently also became a party to that issue. Secondly, both
anchorpersons are guilty of depriving the viewers of the originality of the program and
producing artificiality. Thirdly, they all are guilty of scandalizing the Chief Justice of Pakistan
by making a rationale for broaching a topic of his credibility in the media. In fact, it was the
off-air performance of the actors taking part in the show that revealed their true objectives,
the nature of their meeting, the trajectory of the talk show, and the future of the topic at
hand.

Viewers are piqued to discover that they are being befooled in the name of enlightening
them on various issues through conducting talk shows. Innocent people keep spending
their precious time in watching these talk shows but end up in buying biscuits and
beverages displayed for selling through the advertisements shown in the breaks. Unbiased
media supports democracy but what about the biased media. It is promoting corruption in
society. It is playing with the objectivity and the sense of justice of the viewers. The media
has presented itself as a buyable commodity. Malik Riaz, a contractor-cum-mediator has
proved that point correct.

The episode brings a viewer to other questions. For instance, what about the rest of the
programs shown on the electronic media, are they also contrived? Does it make sense
anymore in viewers’ making phone calls during question time of talk shows and asking
questions if the talk show is a farce? For how long this practice of doctored programs has
been going on in the electronic media? In the past, how many such programs have been
conducted? Why should one any more believe in the electronic media: planted programs,
planted questions, planted hosts, planted guests, planted telephone callers and planted
social media participants? What is the future of this practice?

Postscript: On the same TV channel, Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami, a senior journalist and a
renowned analyst (along with the co-host Habib Akram) was found defending the
anchorpersons of the talk show in question. By so doing, he compromised on his principles
of speaking the truth. He might have secured more air-space at the TV channel in return
but his admirers, including this writer, are disappointed with him.

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