DP's candidate Lee decides media is the enemy
Supporters of the ruling Democratic Party's (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung intensified their attacks on the media Monday, following a weekend of Lee castigating news outlets for its negative coverage.
Party members and supporters were encouraged to spread a hashtag on social media called #IamtheKoreanMedia, proposed by the ruling party's election committee on Monday, to wrench back control of the election narrative from what Lee has characterized as "legacy media outlets," or established media organizations.
Lee's crusade against the media began with a speech in Busan on Friday, where the former Gyeonggi governor described the media environment as being unfavorable to his candidacy and urged his supporters to band together and present their own viewpoints -- and create their "own media."
"Let's work hard to point out their mistakes through KakaoTalk, Telegram, comments, and online community sites to expose the truth of what the media ignores and correct information that they have unfairly distorted," Lee said.
Lee continued his complaints about the media the next day in Geochang, South Gyeongsang, where he also gave another speech calling the media landscape "a lobsided playing field."
During Lee's speech, his supporters and prominent YouTube pundits at the scene jeered reporters on the scene, chanting "Get rid of the gireogi!” and, “We are the media!”
Gireogi is a portmanteau of the Korean words gija, which means journalist, and sseuraegi, which means garbage or trash.
Following Lee throughout the three-day tour, some of his supporters swore at reporters and issued threats to their physical safety.
Democratic Party officials have taken to the airwaves and radio talk shows almost daily in the past week, with former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae describing the media as being “obsessed with ensnaring Lee Jae-myung” on one such show.
The ruling party’s renewed emphasis on what it perceives as the unfairness of the domestic media industry dovetails with the Press Arbitration Act, which it attempted to railroad through the National Assembly in August despite vociferous protests from the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) and Korean media industry groups.
Although the DP negotiated with the PPP to form a committee to discuss its proposed draconian amendment to the law, which would impose a five-fold increase in penalties for “deliberately false or misleading” news reports, some have expressed concern that Lee’s complaints about negative media treatment is aimed at restarting the DP’s push to get a harsh version of the bill passed into legislation.
PPP lawmaker Her Euna, a member of the bipartisan Special Committee for Press Reform, wrote on Facebook Monday that she is “worried that [Lee] is trying to restart the media regulation train,” even though the DP and the PPP have agreed to re-negotiate the terms of the bill.
Analysts say that if the Democratic Party pushes the media bill again, it will appeal to the party’s base.
Lee Joon-ho, CEO of polling firm STI, said, " Lee, whose approval rating has been stagnant for more than a month since he was nominated as the DP’s presidential candidate, seems to be blaming the media to consolidate and appease his supporters.”
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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