Putting a spin on it

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A new standard of manipulation, amateurism and obsequiousness was set for the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Sunday during its coverage of the 115th anniversary celebrations of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. We did not expect much from the propaganda box euphemistically called the MBC. We never have. However, the coldly calculated manipulation of images that we witnessed this week was below even our unambitious expectations and is a new low in the history of our broadcaster.

Imagine this: a journalist covering a normal event – the Labour Party celebrating the anniversary of the one who came to be known as the Father of the Nation. Naturally, you would expect the obsequious MBC not to highlight the best passages of the speakers. Which they didn’t. You would expect the event not to get extensive coverage. In some ways, there’s nothing surprising about this; it’s what political parties in power always try to do. But the MBC chose to press the propaganda button even harder: passages where the former prime minister was stating that he had never been involved in corruption were picked and – to the complete surprise of viewers – footage of the police exhibiting the bank notes seized in Ramgoolam’s house back in February suddenly appeared on our screens and lasted for as long as the coverage did!

Needless to say that the footage was obtained illegally. Needless to say that the case they talked about is still being investigated by the police. And needless to say that Navin Ramgoolam’s lawyers must be rubbing their hands in glee for this manna from heaven which will undoubtedly help them substantiate their case, against some members in government, of the political vendetta being waged against him!

As for Ramgoolam, he probably has already sent a thank-you note to our national broadcaster and the journalist concerned for bringing him back to the forefront of the political scene.

This gross and grotesque manipulation of information and you-know-who’s insistence on cherry-picking events to be presented and the angle in which they should be presented, have all become a daily accompaniment of our evening meal. You will have noticed how the news anchor announced to us, earlier during week, that the British authorities had initiated an inquiry into Ramgoolam’s assets in the UK. The same bank notes were again shown tumbling from the former prime minister’s safe. What the MBC was careful not to say was that it was the Mauritian authorities who had approached the British authorities for mutual legal assistance and not the other way around. Now, how that got spun into a story about what the British authorities suspect and how the journalist confi rmed the veracity of the information, is anyone’s guess. Or rather, we can all guess that there is only one source of information and that it is taken as the spoken word of the Holy Bible.

As if that were not enough, when our sister publication denounced the gross manipulation of information, the MBC, in an endless communiqué read on Tuesday accusing l’express of all sorts of ills and making gratuitous allegations, seized the opportunity to… show the same footage of the bank notes! Again! Who wrote that communiqué and who insisted that it be read on the MBC with the illegally obtained footage is a question which is being whispered in the MBC corridors today.

And they dare tell us the MBC has changed! It sure has. For the worse. Who would ever have thought that possible!

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