A few weeks ago, I lambasted the local media over the standard of their reporting during the plasticizer food scare, saying that the general standard of journalism in Taiwan couldn’t get much lower.
How wrong I was.
In a commentary printed on July 28, the Chinese--language United Daily News (UDN) went off on a rant about the Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik and his stated admiration of Taiwan for protecting its “monoculture.”
However, instead of rebutting the factual errors in the self-confessed killer’s manifesto with facts and figures about the tens of thousands of “new Taiwanese” immigrants and how they contribute to society and the economy, the UDN went off on a wild tangent, choosing to compare Breivik to supporters of Taiwanese independence — in particular those who discriminate against Mainlanders or accuse the pan-blue camp of selling out Taiwan.
It was a connection that only those wearing the deepest blue-tinted spectacles could ever conceive, and while the commentary did include a caveat that it was “unlikely” an atrocity such as that carried out by Breivik could ever occur in Taiwan, the very fact this “theory” was concocted, written and put into print shows that the editorial writers at the UDN have much more in common with the gunman than any Taiwanese independence supporter ever could.
Indeed, the only loose cannon the pan-blue camp and its media friends should be worrying about at this moment in time is a certain James Soong (宋楚瑜).
This is the same Soong who announced his retirement from politics after getting less than 5 percent of the vote and losing his deposit in the Taipei mayoral election of 2006. The same Soong who came within a whisker of becoming president back in 2000 and the same Soong who has been a constant thorn in the backside of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) since he was kicked out of the party following a spat with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).
For reasons known only to himself, but in all likelihood to do with his utter hatred of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Soong has now thrown his hat into the ring ahead of January’s presidential and legislative elections, although he’s not entirely sure which ring to throw it into yet.
Soong’s reanimation has caused panic among the pan-blue media, with chat shows and newspapers lining up to take pot shots at their former darling.
Naturally, the UDN was at the front of the line. With the elections nearing, it is busy printing hysterical hack attacks on anyone who so much as threatens the KMT’s “divine right” to govern.
Just one day after its Breivik abomination, the UDN went to town on Soong, daring him to run for the presidency, while questioning his motives and pondering how Soong’s campaign would negatively affect the “future of the Republic of China” (ROC).
Am I the only one who thinks it ironic that the UDN can be so worried about the future of the ROC while simultaneously advocating ever-closer ties to China?
A path that further down the line is all but certain to spell the end of its beloved republic.
However, why let an all-too-obvious contradiction get in the way of a good hatchet job?
This is Taiwan’s media we are talking about, after all.
Joe Doufu is a Taipei-based satirist.