"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year in Taiwan, same old ESWN in Hong Kong

Words mean things

Both Feiren and I wrote on Saturday about DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun's dispute with the China Times. Among the differences in our posts was that Feiren linked to ESWN, a blog by Hong Kong-based Roland Soong in which the author takes little tidbits of truth and presents them buried among tons of crap.

Feiren had this to say about Soong's presentation:
In this rather long post, I summarize and comment on a typical example of ESWN's misleading work on Taiwanese politics: ESWN's treatment of DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun's dispute with the China Times [...] What I find particularly objectionable and intellectually dishonest are ESWN's rhetorical gestures toward objectivity by giving 'both sides' of the story and his suppression of the context that even relatively informed readers (such as China-based correspondents) need to make a critical judgment.
Therefore, it was hardly surprising when Soong took the BS-TV approach in what may be a response to Feiren touching a nerve. I'll begin with paragraph 7 of Soong's post:
In my blog post, I have summarized all the pieces from
various parties that I have come across the mainstream Chinese-language media in Taiwan. If you only read English, you may have not have read all of them. So I was just collating the reactions and translating them from Chinese to English as a public service. For balance, you can read Taiwan Matters.
I think he has the part about "balance" right. There, he links to Feiren's post in which Feiren was careful with his words and opinions. But the other part about "just" doing those things "as a public service" falls just as flat as it has every time he's made similar claims. Soong has a constant habit of using words like the ones within these posts (hover your cursor over the numbers to see: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) to attract visitors to his site. Then, when he has your attention, he hits you with crap like this (continuing directly from above):
For comparison, I ask you to imagine:
At a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs press conference, the spokesperson declared that no questions will be taken from New York Times reporters until as such time as their China bureau chief is removed on account of a specific article as well as what is perceived as persistent negative criticisms.

At a Hong Kong Government Information Office press conference, the spokesperson declared that no questions will be taken from Apple Daily reporters until as such time as its chief editor is removed on account of a specific article as well as what is perceived as persistent negative criticisms.

At a White House press conference, the spokesperson declared that no questions will be taken from the Washington Post until as such time as its chief editor is removed on account of a specific article as well as what is perceived as persistent negative criticisms.
Let's begin at the beginning. Soong wants readers to "imagine" a completely different scenario while he pretends these things somehow relate to Yu's comments about the China Times. The other bits I've highlighted demonstrate how Soong repeatedly gets the most basic details wrong. Yu's court case against the China Times is based on a specific point of contention which, as Feiren pointed out, was repeated several times over a period of five days, culminating with a front page story. The things the China Times repeatedly printed weren't "criticisms" -- they were actual lies, not merely "perce[ptions]." Furthermore, even Tuan "if he isn't a spy for the China Times, he might as well be" Yi-kang said that the China Times had repeatedly twisted his words. Yu's reasons, therefore, weren't limited to just the cases involving him -- the paper was harming the reputations of the Chen Shui-bian administration, DPP officials, and their supporters.

Worldwide reaction? Universal condemnation? Ubiquitous BS?
Soong finishes his crap off by taking the reader to the Toilet Bowl of Hyperbole [/high-PURR-buh-lee/] (again, continuing directly from the previous quoted section):
Worldwide reaction would be overwhelmingly against those hypothetical decisions. This is the reason why Yu Shyi-kun was almost universally condemned across the board -- blue and green. Given all that is said, what would you do in Yu Shyi-kun's place? This is not just about your personal reactions, but also about your sense of global reactions from others. My purpose in going through those collations/translations is to pose that question to you, whether you are in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States or elsewhere. If you believe that Yu Shyi-ku's actions are correct, please say so to the whole wide world.
And there you have it -- a bowl filled to the brim. The problem here is that Soong not only doesn't give you enough information to make up your mind for yourselves -- he distorts the information he does give you, and confuses you with non-analogous imaginary situations. How do you spell "deceit"? R-O-L-A-N-D_S.

It's real simple, and it goes like this: If somebody repeatedly spreads lies about you, your associates, your friends, and your supporters, there's no reason to trust them to accurately represent your words. That's the stuff of self-destruction, and anyone with a healthy mind and an ounce of intellectual honesty could see it.

Just some of Yu's vocal supporters
Taiwan Society backs Yu in press spat (Taipei Times)
Aside from the Taiwan Society, other groups lending support to Yu's decision include the Taiwan Northern Society, the Taiwan Southern Society, the Taiwan Eastern Society [Maddog note: The Taipei Times told us just last June that the Taiwan Society is an umbrella group which covers those other three plus many more] and the Taiwan Bugle Society [Maddog note: previously corrected to "Taiwan Society Herald" in Taipei Times reports] -- all known for their pro-Taiwan independence stance.

Before Yu's announcement, these groups had months earlier already denied the newspaper interviews and refused to read or subscribe to it.


[Secretary-general of the Taiwan Society, Chet] Yang (楊文嘉) yesterday said as much as he respects the China Times reporters' rights to work, he did not think these rights should be overemphasized.

"Their work rights cannot take priority over and exclude other public values," he said. "For example, they should not exploit their rights to creating false news."

In a public statement last Friday, the Taiwan Society criticized the newspaper as a "media trust" which "fabricates news" and "sows discord."

It said Yu, as a public figure, was not refusing to be interviewed by other media, and was not trying to avoid media supervision.

The China Times should initiate a review of the quality of its own reports instead of blaming others the Taiwan Society said.
Hey, Roland -- I gotcher universe right here! (Hey, Taipei Times editors -- wake up and smell what you've published!)

Things which are and aren't parts of China (not necessarily in that order): , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!
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