Opposition wrong to attack mediaAll the stress and overeagerness about merging with Ahn Cheol-soo’s splinter political entity may have gone to Kim Han-gill’s head. The former Democratic Party chairman, who co-chairs the newly launched New Politics Alliance for Democracy with Ahn, reportedly assigned between one and 12 lawmakers to monitor articles, news coverage and reports across 27 media organizations.
Lawmakers were ordered to keep watch for and take necessary steps regarding any coverage deemed unfair or unfavorable to the new opposition party, including legal action, protests, visits or phone calls. Kim’s idea was approved in the highest policy-making meeting after getting consensus in a general party assembly. But what has made the party so paranoid as to mimic the outdated media censorship practice of the authoritarian days?
Freedom of press is one of the highest values in the Constitution. No power can breach the sovereignty and freedom of the press. If any person or body finds fault, falsehood, bias or other problems in news media coverage, they can protest through agencies like the media arbitration committee and broadcasting review committee or take legal action. But for a legislative body to think of monitoring and censoring any individual media organization is unimaginable in a democratic society.
The new opposition party has a formidable presence in the legislature, with 130 members of the National Assembly’s 300 seats. The main opposition enjoys unprecedented power thanks to the newfound filibuster right introduced in the National Assembly Advancement Law, designed to prevent the ruling party from railroading through bills without consent from the rest of the Assembly. Under the new rule, the ruling party cannot pass a single law without the support of the main opposition. A new party with such enormous influence, launched to seek a so-called reformative new politics, is out to interfere with media coverage. Members of the former DP boycotted talk shows on one new TV channel after claiming the broadcaster was unfavorable toward the party during the 2012 presidential campaign and even blamed conservative broadcasters for its election defeat.
The DP is also blocking more than 110 bills in the Assembly by linking their approval to a revision of the broadcasting law, demanding an equal number of representatives from management and labor unions to serve on the programming committees of private broadcasting companies. Until the opposition frees itself from its victim mentality, it will never be able to win public support and respect.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 29, Page 30