BUHARI, TREAT AIT LIKE OBAMA TREATS FOX NEWS
Drawing close to about this time last year, President Barack Obama was asked if he thinks Fox News, an American cable and satellite news television channel, had been unfair to him. He stated, “Absolutely!” and “Of course!” to Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly during a live interview.
CNN’s great and former anchor, Larry King, in January of 2007, once said this about Fox News, “They’re a Republican brand,” referring to one of America's political parties in opposition to President Obama's party, the Democratic Party.
In January 9, 2010, the son-in-law of News Corporation’s CEO Rupert Murdoch and husband of Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth, Matthew Freud, told Americans that he and other members of the media mogul’s family find themselves “ashamed and sickened” by the right-leaning tendencies (referring to the Republican Party) of Fox News under the management of Roger Ailes, the founder and CEO of Fox News.
Since 2009, the Obama administration has even engaged in a verbal conflict with Fox News due to their inherent bias against the person of President Obama and his presidency.
Just like the reported media war by Fox News against the President Obama and his party, the Democratic Party, in the context of the Nigerian media, the African Independent Television (AIT), a television station which reportedly belongs to one of President Goodluck Jonathan's closest associates, Raymond Dokpesi, was seen by many Nigerians during the recent election campaign as openly biased against General Muhammadu Buhari, then a presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the opposition party to President Jonathan and The People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
AIT will be remembered for running documentaries, such as “The Real Buhari” and “Unmasking The Real Tinubu” which was about another national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, which many Nigerians viewed as being openly biased.
Like Obama who won the presidency twice despite Fox News’ anti-Obama documentaries and broadcastings, Buhari won handedly in spite of all the anti-Buhari broadcasts by AIT.
Moving forward, the APC and the incoming Buhari administration should not get itself in the “banning” game such as the one supposedly placed on AIT which has since been lifted, with Buhari making it known that it was beyond his awareness and should not have happened in our emerging democracy.
Incoming President Buhari, like President Obama and the American media, should be very open to allowing all accredited media houses and their representatives to come freely into the press room during presidential conferences.
Like Obama, it is Buhari's presidential right to select which network questions he chooses to take and the same thing applies to his spokesperson.
Sir, during any press or news conference, like Obama, you can take your time to reach into your pocket and pull out a predetermined list of reporters you choose to call on for questions. It is your presidential right and that is the beauty of being the President!
Like Obama, you are free to take a jab at an AIT host in the room and let them fume; that is certainly okay. As a matter of fact, like Obama towards Fox News, you can make AIT the recurring Aso Rock whipping boy in the press room, if at any time you see them stoking unnecessary conflict in the country with their news.
Like Obama, It is quite okay to take a shot at AIT if, unlike other media networks, they cover any of your stories in a hateful or biased manner. This is especially so if AIT continues to apparently act as a voice to the PDP.
Like all the other news channels, AIT has the right to be critical of you and your administration but where they become too bitterly critical, fire on them. Lecture to them about need to be objective and educate them about the need to take a nonpartisan approach to public matters.
Sir, from time to time, listen to all the television stations, AIT included. Once you or your staff detect a lack of balance in the political comments by commentators in any of the networks, hit hard at that network. The people are very much going to be on your side. Good luck, Sir, in the coming years!
***Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic/Clinical Psychologist, a Consultant in National Psychology, and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association.