&#91EDITORIALS&#93Presidential paranoia

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[EDITORIALS]Presidential paranoia

President Roh Moo-hyun’s dissatisfaction with the public media seems to approach outright paranoia. Mr. Roh’s words in a discussion with ministers and Blue House aides were truly frightening. They seemed hardly the words of the leader of a country, let alone a man with decent common sense. The journalist who attended the debate as the representative of the press corps was quoted as saying he “wanted to bolt out of the room from the severe insult and offense” he felt.
Barely into his fifth month in office, Mr. Roh has seen his approval rating plummet below 30 percent, and after the scandal over the Goodmorning City scam involving several politicians of the governing party, he is troubled by recent allegations of improper conduct by one of his closest aides. It almost seems that he is trying to deflect the people’s attention from an awkward situation that even the ruling camp has defined as a crisis. There is no other explanation for why Mr. Roh attacked the media out of the blue.
It is a shame that an official government debate became the site of yet another declaration of war against the media. Facing the Saemangeum reclamation project, the nuclear-waste treatment facility, the economic slowdown and labor-management trouble, these leaders of government assembled to do nothing more than attack the media. Are they claiming that the taping of Yang Gil-seung, one of the Blue House aides, was a media conspiracy? The president’s attack on the “quality” of journalists and the slur that active contact with journalists means buying them food and drink were embarrassing to those who heard them. Is the president allowed to insult members of a certain profession in this way?
His charge that the media and the opposition are in collusion shows how distorted his conception is. We want to see a president who acts like a president. We want to hear the president speak like a president. The times are far too sensitive for him to be picking idle fights with the media. The consequences of his dangerous views go beyond intimidating the media; the harm will affect the public as well. Stop blaming the media and do your job properly, Mr. President.
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