The last refuge of a scoundrel

Published: June 11, 2011
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Sometimes it is money, other times there are personal favours.

Not a day goes by when I don’t feel disgusted by some within my own profession. They range from journalists who will do almost anything for a free lunch and those who will rub shoulders with almost any man in power in order to gain whatever personal favours they can fathom.

Recently I was accused of being ‘anti-state,’ and a ‘RAW agent’. And all this because I pointed out how one particular TV talk show host was claiming to be working for free in an event paid for by taxpayer money.

Since then, many powerful people have called me up and my editor to defend their crony, who they confirmed never truly leaves home without wearing the ‘Pakistan flag badge’ or ‘a lovely smile’.

It is obvious from the blog post he wrote in response to my report that the ego of this man is the size of the state itself. He repeatedly accuses me and my paper of being ‘anti state’ and an evil entity working on an ‘American agenda to disintegrate Pakistan.’

He also repeatedly invokes the mantra of patriotism to defend himself.

And these days, one can’t qualify to be a true patriot unless you mention the Raymond Davis fiasco, and so he does exactly that. I think when Samuel Johnson spoke about people having a false sense of patriotism in his famous remark “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he was talking about this talk show host.

My argument is that a journalist should refrain from cajoling or hosting the events of people in power . An artist, whose job is to entertain everybody and anybody under the sun, may do that. But as journalists, who supposedly take a vow of objectivity, it’s simply unacceptable in my opinion.

It’s a huge lie when journalists say they host such events pro bono for ‘love of the country’. There’s always give and take involved.

Sometimes it is money, other times there are personal favours. I’ve witnessed many such dealings myself and I’m ashamed to call such people journalists.

salman.siddiqi

Salman Siddiqui

A Karachi-based investigative reporter for The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.