[EDITORIALS]Roh’s squawksWe believe that it is unnecessary to cover all the provocative remarks made by President Roh Moo-hyun. The media and the public have repeatedly pointed out the problems his language has caused, but the president’s rhetoric has not improved.
To repeat the endless cycle of provocative remarks followed by criticism is not pleasant at all to our readers either, and doing so distracts us from other important issues we have to report on.
Nonetheless, we feel obliged to talk about the president’s remarks at a breakfast meeting with 250 senior government officials Thursday. He distorted the essential traits of the media, an important part of society and threatened freedom of the press, a major principle of the Constitution.
He said the media is the most flawed part in our society and that it hurts people as much as a lethal weapon does. He called the media a low-quality product, and also urged government officials not to defer to the media or approach reporters on bended knee.
It is regrettable that the leader of our country has such a distorted view of the media. He seems to have commented as he did because he remembers only some inaccurate reports and some criticism he could not accept.
The media is run by humans, and so every now and then there are mistakes made and erroneous reports printed. But it is extremely unfair to call the entire profession a flawed business.
Government officials have duties to cooperate with journalists to inform the public about matters of interest. It is wrong that the president tries to force officials to buy his flawed perspective on the media, and thus creates conflict between the media and the bureaucracy.
The late U.S. President Gerald Ford never reacted when he was criticized by the media. He never denied the unique function of the media. He has been remembered as a president who drew U.S. society together again after Watergate.
That was quite a contrast from President Richard Nixon, who got angry at the media and failed to get a good historical evaluation of his presidency.
President Roh should forget his bad memories of the media. He should deliver sober words and present good policies before blaming the media for his problems. That’s the best way to stop the criticism. The media cannot criticize if there are no grounds to do so, because the media fears the public more than it does the president.