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[Op-Ed] Arrogance of MBC News Program`s Staff

Posted April. 03, 2009 09:47,   


When U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003, Washington claimed the Middle Eastern country held weapons of mass destruction. Back then, 34 percent of conservative Americans believed it was true. In 2004, a U.S. inspection team released the Duelfer Report, which found no evidence of such weapons in Iraq. The portion of the conservative group who believed in the existence of WMDs in Iraq, however, increased to 64 percent. Such a situation happens because once a piece of information enters the brain, the person will just remember it even if it is false. This is why false information is all the more scary and dangerous.

The transcript of a feature on American beef imports written by the MBC news program PD Notebook was reportedly revised the day when the show was produced. Prosecutors announced this after discovering the original transcript through a raid and seizure of e-mail documents. The text was accurately worded in the original draft and the transcript, as it repeatedly suggested that the mother of Aretha Vinson, an American woman who died of CJD, said, “The cause of my daughter’s death was Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).” CJD, however, was changed into vCJD at seven or eight parts unexpectedly in the final transcript. Prosecutors say the inaccuracy was not due to producer error, but was intentional. They say the program’s producers distorted the facts to give viewers the impression that eating American beef will put people at risk of human mad cow disease.

Having watched the investigative reporting show, not a few people took to the streets to protest American beef. Middle school girls wept, saying the slogan, “We’ve lived only 15 years.” Though the scientific truth on American beef and mad cow disease was later reported, stubborn leftists still believe the program’s erroneous claims. The staff of PD Notebook said, “We just played our due role as media, but they pursue a witchhunt.”

Rather than criticize government policy, the program’s producers randomly distorted facts and cheated the public. It was not a simple misinterpretation or error. If it was a misinterpretation or error, the show should have issued an apology and tried to correct the errors. If it caused confusion to the public and swayed the entire nation, the producers must do more to atone for their act. It is disgusting to see them act as if they are “martyrs of press oppression,” as if their “intentional distortion of facts constituted freedom of the press.” PD Notebook has the nerve to try to dismiss the case just as a lawsuit on labeling filed by Chung Un-chun, former food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, despite being guilty of factual distortion that caused a huge social backlash and damage to the nation.

Editorial Writer Kim Soon-deok (yuri@donga.com)