No signs of neutrality here

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No signs of neutrality here

Choe Kang-wook, who won a seat in the 21st National Assembly as a proportional representative of the Open Democratic Party (a satellite of the ruling Democratic Party), appeared on a KBS news criticism program to criticize news reports made by the public broadcaster about him and Cho Kuk, his former colleague at the Blue House and the former justice minister. 
 
The sight was absurd as Choe is under prosecutorial indictment and facing criminal charges for faking an internship certificate for Cho’s son from the law firm where he used to work.
 
The state-run broadcaster lost its balance and objectivity needed for a news review program designed to uphold fairness and neutrality in news.
 
Its approach was overly biased even as the theme of the debate was media reform. The program, “Journalism Talk Show J” introduced Choe as the “strongest speaker on prosecutorial and media reform.” 
 
Choe said, “The reports [on Cho Kuk] were the most wretched. I wondered where we should find an exit for the press.” He claimed that the press has turned to “vengeful” journalism and Cho was the scapegoat. In fact, Choe was venting his own personal grudges against the Korean media.
 
The guests praised the program and its broadcaster for giving them a chance to lambast news reports distorting facts around Cho and their family. “I praise [talk show] J for criticizing KBS,” TV commentator Choi Wook said. “Can this program air?” joked Choe. KBS was excusing itself by separating itself from others. 
 
The program has violated the KBS internal broadcasting guideline of banning a person who can influence a trial in progress — or is implicated in a trial — on television and radio. 
 
Sung Jae-ho, a former national affairs editor at KBS, pointed out that it was not journalism criticism to have Cho’s close aide evaluate the news about Cho. A union of KBS workers also criticized the show’s poor choice to feature a witness in an ongoing a criminal case.
 
The talk show has been under fire for its bias many times. Panelists were mostly picked from the progressive camp that lashed at the conservative media. 
 
A former think tank under the main opposition party called for elimination of the program after it turned into an avid advocate for the ruling power and undermined the role of a public broadcaster which runs on tax money. 
 
Choe was elected to head the Open Democratic Party. It is expected to be merged with the ruling Democratic Party to ensure a supermajority in the legislature. We are seriously concerned about the party’s future distortion under the pretext of media reform.  
 
JoongAng Ilbo, May 13, Page 30 

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