Stop Playing With the Press

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Stop Playing With the Press

Verbal sniping continues between the ruling party and the opposition over a document drafted by an employee of the opposition Grand National Party disclosing a underhanded strategy to win the next presidential election. The ruling Millennium Democratic Party is on the offensive, claiming that there are two additional documents classifying journalists as pro-GNP and anti-GNP. The opposition denies this and vows to sue the ruling party for defamation. The two parties, intent only on political mudslinging, have put budget deliberations on the back burner.

We have already criticized the opposition for its outrageous actions. In particular, we are appalled by the idea of dividing newspaper editorial writers into "friendly" and "hostile" forces and searching potential opponents'' histories for irregularities. The opposition explained that it was only a "practice draft" for internal use only and that GNP President Lee Hoi-chang expressed his regret. However, this is not sufficient. The ideas contained in the document debase the news media, and they might eventually curtail free speech. Further explanation from Mr. Lee, along with a genuine apology, is needed.

At the same time, we are wary of the ruling party''s attitude. The party claims that the additional papers name some journalists. The ruling party has also said that "If the papers are made public, it will be a great misfortune for the news media." What sort of absurd remark is this? Let us assume that the opposition compiled a list and the ruling party obtained it. In that case, these names reflect arbitrary judgment on the part of some thoughtless opposition members. The list has nothing to do with individual journalists'' intentions or inclinations. Whether friendly or hostile, those who are on the list are hapless victims. Misunderstandings might compromise their writing activities, and the case could even generate discord within the media. The two political parties must immediately stop dragging the press into their political quarrel.

The ruling party is demanding a parliamentary inspection of the document in question. The opposition, for its part, is asking for a parliamentary investigation of the last year''s shooting incident at the Blue House. We believe both cases do not merit parliamentary-level action. It is the budget that really matters.

by By Joseph W. Chung

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