The Sunday Nation of September 17 is a bundle of bias against Jubilee. Here is the overwhelming evidence.
1. SUNDAY NATION FRONT PAGE: There are 6 stories highlighted on the front page of the Sunday Nation. At least 3 of these, MUTUNGA AFFIDAVIT LAYS BARE INTRIGUES DOGGING THE TOP COURT, IEBC CHANGES LOOM AS AKOMBE FEARS FOR HER LIFE, and RAILA: I’M READY TO FACE UHURU IN FAIR POLLS, are biased against Uhuruto and the Jubilee government. The other stories are on General Malong of Southern Sudan, and a picture caption of Kibaki attending his sister-in-law’s burial, and a lifestyle story on the pain of infertility. There is no story on Jubilee, or Uhuru, or Ruto in the entire front page.
2. BIASED HEADLINES INSIDE. The headline on page 3, SHAKE-UP EXPECTED AT IEBC THIS WEEK, portrays very strange and dangerous journalism. Good journalism is about reporting what has happened, not throwing pebbles and reading them. The journalism in this story prophesies the future instead of telling the reader what has happened. Clearly, this headline is expressing the newspaper’s wish to see changes at IEBC. Strangely, this is the dominant story on page 4. Based on nothing else other than a desire by the editors to see changes at the IEBC, the story receives more attention than the story it shares the page with about an audit that showed that there no manipulation of presidential poll data. This is the more “newsworthy” story. Having been fed propaganda that IEBC systems were hacked and poll data changed, what is more newsworthy than an audit that shows there was no such manipulation?
3. The story about Commissioner Roselyn Akombe fearing for her life deserves to be told for no one should live in fear. But there are many other people living in fear, including Prof PLO Lumumba whose rural home is under siege, Prof Jackton Ojwang for issuing a dissenting judgment against Raila’s petition, and Ezra Chiloba who is being hounded out of office. These are full Kenyans with undivided loyalty to this country unlike Akombe who is an American citizen who inexplicably left a high-paying UN job to come and save us from ourselves. They are living in fear but their story is not being told.
4.The lead headline on page 6, RAILA: I’M READY TO FACE UHURU IN FAIR POLL is another expression of outright bias. Fair poll according to whom? Raila himself? The story is a continuation of the NASA propaganda to have the IEBC constituted in NASA’s own image in order for it be seen to be fair by NASA. Yet IEBC is supposed to be an independent body making its decisions without being influenced by outside forces.
5. On the same page is a small article headlined: TEAM OF 100 TO SPEARHEAD UHURU RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN MT KENYA. What is intriguing about this story is that it reports the events of Friday, not Saturday, which was yesterday. A daily newspaper is supposed to report yesterday’s news, not old news. But the reason why becomes clear soon after you start reading. The first paragraph says the president put together a team of 100 politicians to lead his campaign. However, it is immediately followed by a paragraph that highlights “disquiet” among the leaders in Central Kenya. In other words, this story was carried over from Saturday to show that the Jubilee house is in disarray. This highlighting of perceived Jubilee “wrangling” is a constant motif in Nation media reporting. The aim, obviously, is to undermine the president further.
6. The story about former Dr. Willy Mutunga’s affidavit is calculated to impact maximum damage to the two justices of the Supreme Court who are dissenting and opposing the majority decision to annul President Kenyatta’s re-election. The timing of this story is uncanny, coming as it does two days before the release of the full judgment on the petition. The idea is obviously to undermine the credibility of Justices Jackton Ojwang and Njoki Ndung’u, by portraying them as intemperate, dishonest, biased and unprofessional. It is a disguised invitation to the public not to take their dissenting opinion seriously. Remember that the affidavit by Mutunga was filed a long time ago and has been available in court but had to be saved for convenient release on a time like now for a specific purpose. It is noteworthy that the article is by Walter Menya, a Luo reporter who was accused of taking a Ksh. 50,000 bribe in July this year, and whom Nation has not suspended despite touting its anti-brown envelop journalism. That the Nation should put such an obviously bitter reporter to work on political stories bespeaks volumes about the newspaper’s impartiality.
7. How about the Editorial? The headline of the Editorial reads: DO NOT ALLOW SELFISH LOT TO BASTARDISE CONSTITUTION. It is a reaction to the proposal by Jubilee members to amend the constitution to make it impossible for judges to overturn the will of the people during a petition as happened on September 1, 2017 when the Supreme Court annulled the re-election of President Kenyatta on technicalities. To the Nation, the judges should retain powers superior to the sovereignty of the people. The Nation sees judges as infallible beings. In other words, robed angels from heaven who cannot make mistakes. However, in order to confuse the argument and to hide its bias, the Nation editors’ introduce legitimate arguments about the need to retain the security of tenure of the Auditor-General, and other constitutional office holders.
8. Next to the editorial is an article that spotlights the relevant parts of the Kenyan constitution that allows a group to secede. It is penned by a member of a community that has always harboured intentions of seceding from Kenya. This article adds fuel to the fire of secession ignited by top-ranking NASA officials such as David Ndii. Although it ends with a conciliatory note, perhaps to disguise its real intentions, it reads more like a manual for secession.
9. The inside political magazine, Sunday Review, leads with a story headlined: DEBATE RAGES ON UHURU CONVENING PARLIAMENT AMID REPEAT ELECTIONS. It sounds fair enough and doesn’t betray any bias. But that is as far as its magnanimity goes. The top tagline reads: CONTENTIOUS: FRESH ELECTION ORDER NOTWITHSTANDING, THE PRESIDENT ADDRESSED A JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SITTING. This not only highlights contentiousness, but also does something even more sinister. It suggests that the President disobeyed a court order by opening parliament. In so doing, it refuses to see the Executive as an independent arm of government with its own mandate, and subjects it to the Judiciary. It also refuses to acknowledge that the nullification of the election of President Kenyatta meant that his 2013 mandate was re-affirmed and restated and that he is now in charge under that mandate until a fresh election is held. The story also has other biases but we are focused on the headlines so we will not address those.
10. On Page 18, there is a story on the return to Jubilee by Isaac Rutto and Peter Munya headlined: MATH IMPLICATION OF RUTO-MUNYA EXIT FROM NASA. There is an intriguing kicker reading: OPINION IS DIVIDED WHETHER THE RETURN OF THE DUO AUTOMATICALLY TRANSLATES TO VOTES FOR THE JUBILEE SIDE. Wonder of wonders: Many will recall the excitement surrounding the defection of these two leaders to NASA and how it was hailed as the final nail on Jubilee’s coffin as the duo would deliver many votes to NASA. Now, their move to Jubilee is being portrayed as being of no consequence.
11. On page 23, a whole page is devoted to a public “interview” with NASA Senator and lawyer James Orengo, who is described in the headline as a “walking constitution.” That description carries within it the idea that the man knows the constitution more than anyone else. It is a continuation of the bias visible in the entire Nation newspaper. But perhaps the Nation is repaying Orengo for withdrawing his threat against newspaper when he told NASA supporters not to read the Nation or watch NTV, a threat that was baseless and which exposed Orengo’s own dictatorial leanings.
12. Just opposite that “interview” is a half-page advert freely donated by the Nation Media Group announcing that its TV station, NTV and its host, Larry Madawo, will be having an Interview with NASA Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga tonight at 9 pm.
13. Page 24 is another disaster. It shows total bias against Jubilee. The lead story is captioned: UHURU’S UKAMBANI VOTE HUNT FACES THREAT. You guessed it: Jubilee effort to win voters in Ukambani is being undermined. This becomes clearer as you glance at the taglines. The lower kicker reads: POLITICAL INFIGHTING EMERGES AMONG PRESIDENT’S CAMPAIGNERS AND THE THREE FACTIONS ARE SEEKING BIGGER SAY IN JUBILEE AFFAIRS. This tagline is buttressed by the upper tag which reads: THERE ARE FEARS DIVISIONS MIGHT DERAIL DRIVE TO WIN OVER VOTERS IN REGION AHEAD OF POLLS. Whenever a Jubilee story is covered, it used to undermine the party, not convey objective information.
14. On the same page is another biased headline: JUBILEE MPS PLAN “ALL-OUT” WAR ON JUDICIARY. Still trying to figure out the meaning of an “all-out” war, but it certainly sounds like annihilation of the judiciary, which is not the case.
We are going to keep a close eye on the media and will be sharing with you evidence of bias everyday. Let’s expose them.