It’s Easy for Politicians to Blame Journalists

Lilit Avagyan


As a rule, politicians who don’t have a compelling counterargument to the facts offered by journalists are those who blame journalists for spreading misinformation, being this or that politician’s “witness,” selling out, or being a member of the “second oldest profession.”

A recent example was the mayoral election in Hrazdan. One of the candidates was Hrazdan’s mayor of 14 years, Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) member Aram Danielyan. Administrative resources and vote-buying were put into motion also in this election, which journalists had ascertained and made public. In HHK vice-president Armen Ashotyan’s opinion, however, coverage of the local self-government elections in Hrazdan was biased.

This he said at a meeting with journalists at HHK Hrazdan mayoral candidate Aram Danielyan’s campaign headquarters.

“I want to address various — my mouth can’t even form the words — information found in news media, because they are for the most part misinformation.

“It was obvious to us during the entire [election] campaign period that created was an alliance of certain media, political powers and media outlets that aimed not for unbiased coverage of the elections and election campaign, but for presenting an intentional, one-sided, partial, and distorted reality…”

This tune continued, unfortunately, also on April 17, when some media outlets emphasized not the newsfeed content and reality, but were guided by the desire to create unnecessary commotion and artificial tension.

This is one of the numerous news stories on election fraud: “‘Give [Me]10,000:’ Granny Demands Money ‘Due’ Her” [AM]. There’s no media bias in the video. There is a very specific granny who is demanding the 10,000 drams [about $20 USD] promised her.

It’s hard to doubt journalist A. Ashotyan’s impartiality. He has never allowed himself misinformation or breach of proper conduct toward any politician. How much restraint and fundamental human decency there was at the board meeting on Feb. 12, 2015, in then Minister of Education and Science A. Ashotyan’s remarks: “For years, we turned ‘Dodi Gago‘ into Mr. Tsarukyan; now we’re doing the opposite. Nothing else is going to happen politically.” Let me repeat: his remarks on journalists’ impartiality or bias are extremely valuable.

It’s understandable that journalists and journalists alone are to blame for politicians’ unscrupulousness. After the aforementioned HHK meeting, when Gagik Tsarukyan decided to no longer be involved in politics, a journalist inquired (April 28, 2015), what in particular compelled the Prosperous Party of Armenia leader to leave politics? Answer: “If there weren’t journalists like you, if they correctly evaluated the complete work, it wouldn’t be like that [….] Journalists like you, who make a mountain out of a molehill and write wrong things, that’s why it so happens.”

What difference does it make who the writer is, when the president of the country and the defense minister managed the funds allocated to the army incompetently and not purposefully, that this or that minister is corrupt; this or that oligarch, dishonest?

If we turn to the Gospel, we will find wars, corrupt judges, prostitutes, doctors, and builders. We can reread [Movses] Khorenatsi’s “Lament” [in History of the Armenians]. The oldest records speak of thieving officials, renegade commanders, bribe-taking and unjust judges, ignorant and cruel kings. They’re all there — but no journalists (narrators).

All the misfortunes of the world (wars, famine, adversity, people emigrating because of injustice and humiliation), it’s their fault — not journalists’. 

It can’t be denied: the attitude toward the press has changed. If in the late 90s, in 2001, working in the press was the greatest honor and responsibility, now that is no longer so. Entering the press and media outlets, in general, are people who aren’t educated, don’t have professional self-respect, and lack ethics, are biased… It’s become so that if you criticize one, you’re fulfilling another’ orders. If you address this approvingly, then you’re promoting or have a personal stake in the matter.

But even in such a reality, to accuse journalists of biased reporting (for example, during the Hrazdan mayoral election) is not fair. Witness, election observer organizations’ assessment [AM]: “Once again it was not possible to conduct lawful and transparent elections in Armenia.”

Lilit Avagyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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