Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, at the receiving end of some vicious media reportage for some four years ago for the People's Plan Campaign that he had initiated in the State in the mid-90s, appears to have decided to take the bull by its horns: by subjecting the mainstream Malayalam media's reporting strategies to searing scrutiny and, more crucially, dedicating the book that is the outcome of the exercise to none other than Richard Franke, the American academic who was branded as a ‘CIA agent' who smuggled in the CIA agenda into the Plan campaign. Titled Vyaajasammithiyude Nirmithi, which can be roughly translated as ‘Manufacturing Fake Consent', the book is being released at a function in Kochi on Saturday.
“Prof. Franke was the victim of a witch hunt by the media in Kerala. For several months running, the mainstream media in Kerala went about celebrating rumours and speculation. They were not even willing to give the victim's side of the story. They did score a transient victory at the time but have so far not come up with even a shred of evidence to prove their charges.
Nor have they cared, in the best traditions of journalism, to admit that they had erred. That is why I have decided to dedicate my book Prof. Franke,” Dr. Isaac told The Hindu.
The book, which Dr. Isaac co-authored with TV journalist N.P. Chandrasekharan, is not just about the decentralised planning initiative.
Besides the Plan campaign, it also focuses on the manner in which the mainstream media have handled the controversies relating to the SNC Lavalin deal and the protest against the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. The book concludes that on all three issues, the media, both print and TV, had adopted ‘unethical and biased' positions. At one level, this worked in the form of propaganda and at another in the form of suppression, the authors say.
The authors blame the mainstream media of having adopted a ‘sham Left' position on the People's Plan Campaign and, more significantly, says that their reports gained unprecedented credibility because of the support they received from the Left flanks and the use of such reports by a section within the CPI(M) as part of the factional struggle in the party.
The authors say that a ‘Media Syndicate' had come into being in the State at this time and that it was instrumental in getting similar sensational reports published in different media, operating ‘leakage' of information from party committees and conferences and in personal defamation of leaders.
In the SNC Lavalin case, the media had become the ‘apostles of hatred' and in the case of the ASEAN pact, their strategy was to suppress reports about the struggles against the pact, the book says.