Media won’t succumb to Ruto’s blackmail

Monday, February 19th, 2024 09:51 | By
President William Ruto during a past function.
President William Ruto during a past function. PHOTO/@WilliamsRuto/X

Governments come and go. Power is transient. Kenyan media survived the darkest periods of the Moi dictatorship.

Progressive, courageous and independent Kenyans in the press staked out their necks with grave risks to their lives to speak truth to power.

The result was the fall of the Moi tyranny and enactment of the 2010 Constitution which decidedly shields freedom of the media and its independence.

Legislation, training as well as the journalism code of conduct guide and regulate the behaviour of practitioners. The disdain by the Ruto administration for the media has never been disguised. The Deputy President has been on a gleeful spree disparaging journalists for doing their work.

A Cabinet Secretary used unprintable insults against a media house and got a coy endorsement of his boss, President William Ruto. There have been attempts by individuals in government to try and dictate the kind of journalism we produce.

It is worrying that some forces pushing punitive decisions on journalism patronised the same platforms to propel themselves to the cozy positions they occupy. Undeniably, power can be delusional.

We get alarmed when the small mindedness of a regime is deployed in a manner that poses an existential threat to media as well as freedoms that many Kenyans fought to protect, including that of the press and information. The Ruto administration is a disturbing blot on media freedom and democracy.

As a US newspaper warns, democracy dies in darkness. One of the bulwarks of democracy is a free and independent press. The other is an informed, empowered and vigilant populace.

That is why we encourage debate on the government decision to direct advertisement paid for by taxpayers to only one media house.

It is a blatant onslaught meant to not only intimidate and blackmail the media but also kill press freedom. The official line is that the government is aligning its communication strategy to cut costs.

But we see it as a juvenile scheme to hurt media houses which have refused to be megaphones for Ruto’s failings and illegal policies. It is blackmail that stinks to the high heavens.

It is a mischief by a political elite that perceives journalists as irritant gadflies on their intentions and fifth columnists.

We, however, hate to inform them that the Kenyan media will remain unperturbed and unbowed in defence of public good and the rule of law.

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