A live interview conducted on TVBS’ 2100 Talk Show (2100全民開講) on Friday with a Japanese man suspected of having assaulted a taxi driver has drawn criticism from netizens and academics. Host Lee Tao (李濤) was singled out for exceeding the professional parameters of the media.
Local celebrity Makiyo and her Japanese friend Takateru Tomoyori were indicted on Friday for “inflicting serious bodily harm” on taxi driver Lin Yu-chun (林余駿) on the night of Feb. 2 in Taipei.
In the indictment, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office recommended a six-year prison term for Tomoyori and a four-year prison term for Makiyo, who was born to a Japanese father and Taiwanese mother.
Following the indictment, Lee interviewed Tomoyori on his Friday evening show for nearly two hours.
During the interview, Tomoyori said he was in a serious relationship with Makiyo and claimed that everything said at the press -conference held on Feb. 4 had been manipulated by Makiyo’s talent agency.
However, Netizens blasted Lee for repeating the same questions and sounding “like a broken record and driving the translator and the viewers nuts.”
Netizens also asked: “Is the court now in session, Judge Lee?”
Academics who specialize in media-related issues also responded negatively to the interview, with National Chengchi University Department of Journalism associate professor Liu Chang-de (劉昌德) saying: “The media are not the prosecution, and this sort of conduct is unbecoming of a professional media.”
Liu further commented that the media had focused too much on the Makiyo incident, when the majority of its coverage should have been on more important issues, such as the ongoing dispute over US beef.
Hungkuang University Department of Cultural Studies associate professor Connie Lin (林育卉) was more direct in her criticism of media behavior: “When did the judicial system in Taiwan fall so far that the media, bereft of judicial professionalism or authority, decided that it is better placed to put someone on trial?”
Although the Makiyo case deserved public attention, Lin said that it was the responsibility of the media to present such incidents in context and based on the principle of proportionality, ensuring that they did not displace coverage of more important news.
National Chung Cheng University Department of Mass Media associate professor and Taiwan Media Watch chairman Kuan Chung-hsiang (管中祥) said: “The media should not exceed its role and seek to play judge and jury,” adding that the 2100 Talk Show interview with Tomoyori amounted to little more than allowing a man accused of a serious crime to present his own defense unchallenged and without any scientific or forensic evidence to back up or refute his claims.
Such a show “does not help clarify the incident, and could easily be misleading,” Kuan said.
In response to these criticisms, TVBS spokesperson Yeh Yu-chun (葉毓君) said the show did not only provide a platform for Tomoyori to explain his side of events, because the taxi driver’s opinions were also expressed when his lawyer called in during the second half of the show.
The 2100 Talk Show is broadcast live and the host often has to make on-the-spot decisions, Yeh said, adding that TVBS respected the different opinions expressed on the content of the interview.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer