SOUTH AFRICA’S news media knows absolutely nothing about the bribery and corruption scandal involving Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schrieber. The shenanigans of the Independent News and Media director has dominated overseas headlines and has been part of a three year investigation on Fifth Estate, Canada’s version of Third Degree – but local news media, many of whom are employed by Mulroney, can’t be bothered to familiarise themselves with the facts, and see the subject as taboo.
“I can’t comment, I’m uncomfortable with this, there are some things I don’t want to know” said Franz Anton Kruger of the Wits School of Journalism.
Patrick Conroy of eTV news express complete cluelessness: “I don’t know!” When asked if he didn’t know because he was not party to the facts or didn’t know because he didn’t want to know the truth, he was even more vague, “No comment”, he blurted before putting down the phone. Several print media journos, all expressed utter ignorance of the case and it would appear local media is in the process of denying the inevitable – an INM head has been caught red-handed taking kickbacks from business and the arms industry.
Mulroney is the disgraced former progressive conservative party Canadian PM, now the subject of a public inquiry held before Canada’s privy council. The Oliphant Commission was appointed late last year and is about to embark on a series of public hearings that look set to rock international media, even though its current terms of reference are also the subject of serious debate. According to the Canadian Press, the price tag for the inquiry will set Canadian taxpayers back by $ 14 Million.
Mulroney is a non-executive director of Independent PLC the parent company of Independent News and Media PTY LTD which prints such titles as Cape Times, Star and Argus and owns some 137 newspapers worldwide. He also sits on the local international advisory board which sets newsroom policy for the media group and recently attended a function of the World Association of Newspapers at Cape Town castle where he could be seen hobknobbing with industry bigwigs and corporate tycoons who have literally bought the local press, lock stock and barrel, turning SA media into unaccountable, personal fiefdoms in the process.
I asked Kruger, the author of a book on Media Ethics, whether or not he knew of any colleagues taking bribes, or if he had received any cash in exchange for favours from people like Karl-Heinz Schrieber?
“I really don’t know, I can’t comment” said Kruger
When will South Africa’s media know anything? Probably never, judging by the lack of concern for what is surely the hottest corruption scandal involving print media this century.