A few days ago a new TV talk show series, called “Anamosity” (title given by my daughter), ran in town, which I hope the readers of this paper did not miss. If you are lucky a few more episodes may still be in the process of production.
The sponsors of “Anamosity” are dedicated to “restoring journalistic ethics” and exposing a man who has brought shame on this profession by admitting a lapse in his editorial judgment nine years ago. This fool of an editor thought that admitting one's own lapse as an editor is one of the highest forms of ethics. Well, editors, think again.
The series is being produced by the “Guardians of Media Ethics” who are determined to expose the person who has been posing as a journalist -- as an editor, for that matter, of the biggest English language daily of the country over the last 23 years -- but is actually a politician.
The scriptwriters of “Anamosity” series are very bold. They are not intimidated by truth and are determined not to be constrained by facts. “Evidence” or “proof” to bear out the claims made in those shows, however outrageous, are things that these "Guardians of Ethics" would not be bothered with. After all, in exposing a pretender to journalism, issues like truth, fact, proof and logic are mere impediments. All this must be dispensed with when journalistic ethics need to be restored. For a good cause, sacrifices need to be made.
These Guardians have been so uncompromising in their task to free journalism of such a disgraceful element that they made sure no one from the newspaper in question participated in the talk shows, lest they raise such irrelevant questions as “where is the proof of what you say?” So, what if the editor in question is misquoted, his "admission" taken out of context and the meaning of what he said twisted? What if things are falsely attributed to him? That is of no concern to them because when the cause of ethical journalism is at stake, everything goes, including abandoning those very ethics.
These TV talk show series that ran only in a select number of channels are all very creative and can put most fiction writers to shame in terms of its breadth of imagination. It was nothing short of a stroke of genius to link an introspective and self-assessing voluntary comment of an editor -- admitting his lapse in editorial judgment -- to a grand conspiracy to destroy democracy, bring in the military, implement “minus-two” and then grab power, all the while being just an editor. Hats off to these scriptwriters for no ordinary mind could have woven such a thrilling plot.
“Anamosity” talk show series claims to “reveal” how this “politician masquerading as a journalist”, to realise his personal goal of bringing in the army, cleverly created the political crisis that led to 1/11. The plot implies that he first convinced the BNP to change the retirement age of judges, then he convinced the AL to reject the particular judge who was to be the next chief adviser and thus ignited two years of political agitation by the then opposition party.
This pretender of a journalist worked hard so that the political crisis could not be solved and when the time came, he influenced the then President Iajuddin Ahmed not to follow the natural steps of the constitutional provision, and declare himself the chief adviser.
Even then, the crisis did not mature enough for the army to come. He then persuaded the four advisers of the first caretaker government to resign. Still, the crisis was not coming to a head. Finally, he persuaded the EC to reject Gen Ershad's nomination at which point the AL finally declared that it would not participate in the coming election. That's how the "plotter" journalist's dream came true and the ground was created for the army to step in. And all this was done only to prevent Sheikh Hasina from coming to power.
The irony is that it was that very army-backed caretaker government, which this editor is thought to have conspired to bring in, that held a free and fair election paving the way for Sheikh Hasina's historic electoral victory and return to power.
You have to compliment the “Anamosity” scriptwriters for having woven such a complex and totally original plot, however contrary to history it may be. After all, imagination should not be constrained by history. And why should only the litterateurs have the opportunity for fiction-writing?
It is of no consequence that “Anamosity” talk shows grossly violated all norms of decency and personal dignity. So what if some participants in these progarmmes resorted to blatant falsehood and most defamatory lies without bothering to cite a single evidence of any sort?
In most of the talk shows, there were some common faces who repeated their views ad nauseam holding the paper, especially its editor, guilty of the “grossest of violation of journalistic ethics” and demanded legal action against him and at least his resignation.
For effect they brought in a few participants who desperately tried to say something in defence of the targeted editor but whose arguments were either ignored or drowned out by louder voices.
One participant did mention that he was uneasy speaking about a fellow editor without his presence but that uneasiness did not prevent him from stating that the editor in question personally had declared he was the member-secretary of a political party being formed then, which is a totally baseless claim.
Most of the participants claimed they personally knew the "pretender-editor" and yet, no one bothered to check their facts by a simple phone call to him or any of his colleagues before speaking out in public. It went for days but a phone call would have taken only a minute.
“Anamosity” will definitely find a pride of place in the annals of our TV talk show for its creativity and imagination, if not for its fairness and authenticity.
An editor's introspective self-assessment and his voluntary admission of editorial lapse should ordinarily have led to a serious discussion in both the print and electronic media about the weaknesses in the profession and how to guard themselves in the face of intrusion in their daily work that still continues.
Instead, it has led to 16 cases and counting till last night and a motivated and determined "witch hunt", which is bound to lead to severe stifling of the free media, especially to self-censorship.