A state mouthpieceThe Yeouido Institute, a think tank run by the conservative Liberty Korea Party (LKP), has released the results of its study on the KBS program “Journalism Talk Show J” and concluded that it is entirely aimed at attacking major newspapers and the opposition LKP for being critical of the Moon Jae-in administration. The study was based on an analysis of the scripts of 38 programs this year spanning a total of 2,090 minutes. One researcher concluded that “the program was entirely one-sided.”
According to the study, LKP was mentioned 84 times, versus 52 mentions about the ruling Democratic Party (DP). Mentions of the LKP were mostly negative. LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn was mentioned 12 times and floor-leader Na Kyung-won 21 times, whereas DP head Lee Hae-chan and floor leader Lee In-young were each mentioned just once. Former president Roh Moo-hyun was mentioned 139 times, mostly in a respectful light, while former president Park Geun-hye was mentioned 90 times, and was mostly ridiculed or criticized.
The LKP and some media outlets have complained about the program before. But the program should be ashamed of its role in attacking the opposition and praising the government. KBS runs on public fees worth 600 billion won ($515 million) a year. It must at least strive to produce fair and objective journalism.
Analyzing media reports about former Justice Minister Cho Kuk and allegations around him and his family, the program was mostly critical of conservative media organizations for their outpouring of reports based on “heedless allegations,” accusing prosecutors and the media of colluding. During an interview, one panelist said that “Morality should not be subject to confirmation for a public post” and the captions read “A reckless coupling between the prosecution and the media” and “The media serving as a mouthpiece for the prosecution in its attack on Cho.” Instead of critiquing the media, the program mostly serves as the spokesperson for the governing power and its figures.
The report called for the abolishment of the program. But that alone cannot be the answer. Political power must correct its mindset that it can use public broadcaster for propaganda. The public broadcaster also must cease its tradition of swaying its politics depending on who takes power. The public broadcaster must return to its original role of serving its real owner — the people.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 13, Page 30