THE media are powerful, important and dangerous. Two seemingly unrelated events this week reveal how true this is. The first (see footnote), occurred in this column, in which the use of a synonym and the absence of a comma changed the meaning of what was written so completely that a compliment became an ethnic slur. The second was a distressingly successful attempt by the state attorney to muzzle media coverage of a matter of extreme national importance.
In the second example, the state attorney’s office had the temerity to write an intimidating letter about a pending case to private airline Comair with a view to withholding information already in the public domain and in the public interest from judges, litigants, journalists, politicians, officials and, above all, citizens. As they might muzzle Comair, but not me, I happily reveal what they want concealed. Perhaps they want to prevent judges being informed before hearing their sanitised version. Maybe they presume judges to be so fickle as to be influenced by media coverage and too stupid to evaluate evidence objectively.
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Leon Louw is the President of the Free Market Foundation.
Publish date: 29 April 2015
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.