[EDITORIALS]Media Probe's Harsh LessonsThe government and the ruling party's harsh treatment of critical newspapers has crossed the acceptable line. The Millennium Democratic Party, which has been committing verbal violence toward the newspapers, saying that they have "dictatorial power" and are a "corrupt group," is now distributing the party organ, on which those emotional messages are printed, across the nation. The situation reminds us of the bleak situation under the authoritarian administration of the past, in which the government tried to kill the press.
Imposition of some 500 billion won ($380.6 million) in additional collection against tax evasion and types of evasion are all so far announced as a result of the tax probe. The amount of taxes dodged by each newspaper and the methods for committing the actions were not made public, therefore we have no idea which newspaper actually attempted to evade how much in taxes.
Regardless, the Millenium Democratic Party is driving a certain newspaper into a corner. The words the party used to describe the newspaper are also very aggressive. The statements by the ruling party on Thursday in the supreme council meeting are almost like those spoken by soldiers on their ways to a battlefield. Members spitted out such words as "We should take firm actions against them," "We should be decisive" and "We've crossed the Rubicon River." These statements make us doubt that the government and the ruling party are attacking the press together according to an arranged scenario after deciding targets of criticism.
It makes us think that everything is being done according to the same scenario that was described in the alleged press control document which aroused a fuss in our society in February.
An interview that was printed in the ruling party's newspaper shows us the government and the ruling party's intentions behind attacking the newspapers. The article pointed out a certain paper and criticized it that "it is trying hard to get us into trouble by denying the existence of the government and bringing out only the policy failures." The party organ also states, "The newspaper is making a move to collapse our party and take away the political power." It even labels the paper as "the opposition party's organ."
We see that the party has been hiding some political intentions behind their action and has been keeping hostility toward all the criticisms by the newspaper rather than accepting them. It seems that the retaliation and hostility reflect the cognition of the government and the ruling party. Therefore, we have to ask whether the party is trying to give a harsh lesson to the newspaper.
The situation is creating a bloody atmosphere, causing fights among newspapers and broadcasting companies. The ruling party is about to severely injure major newspapers by encouraging gang fights and labeling them as criminal groups.
What will they gain through it? What is the true intention behind the ruling party's attempt to take over the tax probes and make the issue political? They won't succeed at all if they intend to subdue the press's criticism by doing so. Our society will get healthy when there are many newspapers that check and criticize the government and when the public trusts them.
Although the high officials at the Millennium Democratic Party emphasize observing law and order as a norm for their so-called press reform, the party lost its justification a long time ago. Its political intentions have been exposed and the ways it deals with various policies are too excessive.