Mon, Dec 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Media guru defends himself online

FIGHT Lin Kuei-you claims he brought the talk show to Taiwan and invented the word `infotainment,' but he is now more famous for being accused by a PFP lawmaker as being behind the `Special Report' series of VCDs

BY CODY YIU  /  STAFF REPORTER

Media figure Lin Kuei-you was accused by a PFP lawmaker as being the brains behind the Special Report series of VCDs.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

A prominent media figure has found a novel use for the Internet -- as a means to defending his good name.

Lin Kuei-you (林奎佑), better known as Yufu (魚夫), has more than 20 years of experience in both newspapers and television and is also an award-winning political satirist. Disappointed by what he saw as the "dumbing down" of the media, Lin retired from public life a year ago and redirected his focus to digital animation.

Little did Lin know, however, that his new-found sanctuary would be shattered in a burst of media exposure after People First Party Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) accused Lin of being the brains behind the controversial Special Report series of VCDs.

Lin started his journalism career in 1982 at the Chinese-language China Times before switching to The Independent Evening Post in 1987. In 1994, after the ban on setting up new media establishments was lifted, he helped found three TV stations and was the harbinger of call-in news talk shows in Taiwan.

"I am the founding father of TVBS, Super TV and SET TV, brought the TV call-in show to Taiwan," Lin said. "However, I became so disappointed with the low-standard of TV media that I declared my leave of absence a year ago."

That leave of absence was dramatically interrupted last month.

On Nov. 14, Chiu named Lin and three others as being the main figures behind Special Report. Although all four denied Chiu's accusation, the PFP lawmaker refused to retract his accusations and even threatened to take legal action.

On Nov. 21, however, an investigation carried out by Chiu revealed that the four did not participate in the production of the VCD, forcing the lawmaker to offer a public apology.

"My first response to the accusation was to turn of my cellphone and turn down all interview requests," Lin said. "From my professional journalism experience, I knew very well that the media was not interested in my clarification, but in the sensation of aggressive news reporting."

Instead, Lin sent two long and heartfelt letters to 1,700 people on his e-mail.

"Everyone on the mailing list is an acquaintance who I often forward my articles and satires to," Lin said. "In my time of crisis, this mailing list became a powerful weapon. If everyone on my mailing list forwarded my letters to two others, then a lot of people would have received my messages. Furthermore, the electronic media also heavily publicized my letters. Spreading an online clarification is just a way of defending oneself."

Lin's first letter, sent out the same day he heard Chui's accusation, described how he traced the origin of the rumor. To Lin's disappointment, he learned that it had been circulated by long-time media friends.

The letter read, "Dear friends, I was terribly saddened by the betrayal of certain old friends. In a society where everyone climbs on the bandwagon, how far should human nature be twisted?"

Six days later, Lin sent out his second letter, in which he criticized the media circus surrounding the accusations.

Lin wrote, "Only 5 percent of the Taiwanese population has actually watched Special Report, and yet those who have not watched the VCD series have made many commentaries on TV, where the words of James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Chiu become the basis of their commentaries. It is as if people who have never watched a movie branded the movie vulgar outside the cinema."

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