There is a newsroom bug in two major media houses which covered the Kisumu rally where CORD leader Raila Odinga and Nairobi governor Dr Evans Kidero shared a peaceful podium with each given ample time to address the attenntive, ecstatic multitude of people who gathered at the lakeside city of kisumu to enjoy a recharged political side of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, CORD .
The sick joke is that most journalists had previously been restocking their reservoir of ‘political fallout in ODM’ vocabulary with apt imagery and verbs, adjectives and propositions which the next day “news” would have used to describe an automatic booing, heckling, and shouting down of Dr Kidero that was sure to occur in Kisumu.
On one hand, the journalists had been training to depict the ‘woes’ (one of the juicy words) Â on Dr Kidero as a creation of Mr. Odinga and his supporters. This failed! Â On the other, the paid-to-vilify Odinga scribes went to Kisumu to continue with the continuing biased and slanted stories where Mr Odinga is to be continually depicted as the ‘sick man’ of Kenya’s politics after March 4 elections. Again, this failed!
Increasingly, Kenya’s mainstream media’ hostility towards events where the former PM will appear on the news smelling pungently of some politically rotten ‘idea’ or statement, has seen a determined non-existent wedge being peddled between the two leaders.
But in Kisumu, this myth; of a schism between Raila Odinga supporters and those of Dr Kidero (who are essentially one and the same people) was thoroughly annihilated. The Luo community, apparently, refused to play by the Nation Media group, Standard Group and Royal Media services gang of journalists and editors.
With the peaceful and mature manner in which the massive Kisumu crowd welcomed not only Mr Odinga (which was obvious) but also remained kind to Dr Kidero (which was unexpected), most of the Kisumu journalists have since been given ‘sick leaves’ to go and mourn the ‘lack of story’ in Kisumu!
However, still there had to be a bad story from Kisumu! So, to conjure up something that the ‘media gang’ wanted, they picked on Odinga and claimed, unashamedly, that he said ‘the military rigged in Uhuru and Ruto to power’.
Despite the tapes and the translation of what was essentially said in a Luo language (one of the richest dialects in the world), Kenya’s mainstream media has continue to spin a yarn of what didn’t exist: what wasn’t said.
Anyway, so what? Did the military behave during the last election in a manner that wasn’t reproachable? Can Kenyans say the military was neutral in a political contest pitting two civilians?
The very fact (indisputable) that the military top brass is composed -by large proportion – and, outrageously, with members of one of the political players’ ethnic cocoon already put doubts in its independence. The memory of 2007, where an independent commission acertained beyond doubt that the country’s security and intelligence apparatus was biased, is also still very fresh. Did the military behave any different?
Military involvement also comes in when a civilian, one Dennis Itumbi, now employed by Uhuru, recently claimed he aided in developing a communications channel to top military commanders of the country in the continuing open-ended war in Somalia. On what basis did such dealings occur? How then does the military escape blame when its top personnels were already in bed with key strategists of the Uhuru campaign? Does this not lend credence to what Kalonzo Musyoka, then vice President, sensationally claimed that IEBC was TNA and TNA was IEBC? And, isn’t the IEBC a Siamese twin of the Kenyan military especially during elections?
On Odinga’s apology; which is nonsensical to say the least, even a closer translation of the statement of Mr Odinga cannot amount to the idiotic creation of the mainstream media. Plainly, Mr Odinga did not attack the military! It is the media to apologize to Mr Odinga! And the military too, for misquoting (for selfish gain) the Flame of Freedom should be on their knees.
However, there is need for the military to stop meddling in what essentially are civilian democratic contests. Militaries are institutions which must be seen to be apolitical and neutral. Media houses should be at the fore-front in bringing to public discourse the manner in which Kenya’s military is beholden to a parochial, partisan agenda – that of maintaining a status quo even when that quo has lost all its status!
CORD has made it clear there will be no apologies coming, right? In fact, at a time when IEBC has not released its final tally and four of its officers have been charged in a court of law; no agency associated with the last polls should seek any moralised pedestal; the kind which they are freely getting from these same media houses.
What amazes in media’s coverage of CORD leader Raila Odinga is that more often than, the man who often literally stand by the media, is the most scandalised political leader in Kenya today. Media freedom?