Pics, Bias and Videos
Posted on September 13th, 2009

Bandula Kothalawala London N7

In May this year, just after the Sri Lankan Government announced the death of the LTTE leader and released a picture of his corpse, British television stations, not to be outdone, telecast their own picture of Prabhakaran, live, kicking and smiling at his own corpse. Channel 4, as far as I can remember, used the picture as backdrop to its interview with Mr K Padmanathan, whom, the Channel introduced as a prospective leader of the terror outfit. In the interview, Mr Padmanathan assured a manifestly jubilant Jon Snow that their leader was live and safe, and disdainfully dismissed the claims by the SL Government. The same Padmanathan announced the death of the LTTE leader a few days later. Channel 4 has, since then, been discreetly silent over the picture. (Mr Jon Show does not have the decency to reply to any of the letters addressed to him on his coverage of the conflict). This, however, did not stop Channel 4 seeking exclusive interviews with the man whom it regarded as the heir to the throne until Mr Padmanathan suddenly found himself on a flight to Colombo escorted by Sri Lankan intelligence officers. Strangely enough, Channel 4 has shown no interest in reporting on the revelations made by Mr Padmanathan since he started spilling the beans. Mr Padmanathan, according to some sources in Colombo, sings like a canary!

That Channel 4 practises journalism of the gutter is no news to anybody. It has almost effortlessly outshone its equally unscrupulous brethren in the trade over the years in their campaigns of vilification based on canards. Nevertheless, in its coverage of the conflict in Sri Lanka, it has taken a nosedive into the gutter. It is too tedious to enumerate the numerous half truths, blatant lies, distortions etc that the Channel has broadcast on Sri Lanka over the past few months. Objectivity, integrity, impartiality etc – basic tenets of journalism – seem to be anathema to most journalists at Channel 4. I remember how Jon Snow once asserted that the SL Government was going to kill ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-all the Tamils or throw them into the seaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚!

Channel 4 had persistently claimed that they were showing the footage filmed by their ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-undercoverƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ reporters smuggled into the conflict zone in the run up to the defeat of the terror outfit while gleefully dishing out news stories from pro-LTTE sources, interspersed with scenes from gory promotional videos from the LTTE. On 22 May 2009 at 7.00 News, someone, inadvertently, let the cat out of the bag and announced that their contact person had not wished to surrender, but had committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule!

The latest canard from Channel 4 is the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Execution videoƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ which the Channel has now telecast at least three times (with excerpts being telecasts by dribs and drabs) without ever producing any evidence of its authenticity. The usual tricks of the trade were not forgotten; the statement from the Sri Lanka High Commission was not read in full; important details were deliberately left out; references to unnamed human rights groups were dutifully made; some appalling library pictures were also used as backdrop etc

Curiously, Channel 4 seems to shift the onus of proof to the Government of Sri Lanka. In other words, it is the Government that has to prove that its security forces were not involved in these ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-executionsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. This might sound like a perfectly reasonable proposition if the Channel has produced some credible evidence as to the location, time, identity of soldiers involved etc. Make no mistake about it! It is the accused that has to prove his/her innocence! Things get even more bizarre. In the interview with Professor Rajiva Wijesinghe, Krishnan Guru-Murthi of Channel 4 insolently argues that the SL Government has to hold an independent inquiry because the US Ambassador to the UN has expressed concern over the video! Mr Guru-Murthi seems to believe that every time any Dick, Tom or Harry (or Hillary) gives utterance to something, everyone has to dance to their tune! Did Mr Guru-Murthi take seriously the words of one of Ms RiceƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ predecessors when she said that the death of half a million children in Iraq was a price worth paying?

Mr Snow, Mr Guru-Murthi and journalists of their ilk need to find better ways of boosting their sagging audience than lick an occasional bone thrown at them by the rump of the LTTE.

Bandula Kothalawala

London N7

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