Journalism and government responsibilities

The questioning of the Prime Minister by the editor of Kairos led to reactions ranging from indifference, to contempt, to criticism of the form(1). On the substance very few reactions. There was no solidarity from other media.

The question asked was not defamatory, inappropriate or aggressive to the government. We are currently witnessing a health, social, economic and political crisis of major importance. The government has duties and obligations to the people. Police violence is perpetrated with impunity in the streets by policemen (resulting in the death of the young Adil(2)), the elderly are neglected in nursing homes as well as in hospitals when the capacity is reached. However, when questions are asked that call into question the responsibility of the government, the latter does not consider it useful to answer them seriously and prefers to avoid any questioning.

This Kairosweek , through its editor-in-chief, attempted to participate in the conference press release of April 24. He was simply dismissed by the press office, using invalid reasons. The lawyer for Kairos proceeded with a formal notice to which the Chancellery did not respond. not responded, as required by law. It was astonishing to note yesterday a police presence absent in the weeks previous… 

You Did you say fourth power?

Don’t we say that the press is the fourth estate? Many citizens have doubts about this and these concerns do not really help to strengthen fragile « democracies ». If the media really is this counter-power, how can it be that a non-event — a political question about the government’s choices in the midst of a health crisis — is seen by so many as an achievement (3).

What was published in the « big » media, or more specifically on RTL TVI on the evening of Friday 24 April, following the famous press conference? :–1213763.aspx:  » You will find in this article the decisions of the National Security Council, which met this Friday at 2:30 pm, and the latest information related to the pandemic « . Among other headlines, « Deconfinement: here are the measures decided at the National Security Council »,  » Deconfinement: here are the changes for the practice of sport « ,  » Deconfinement: « When can we visit our family? Reopening of schools from May 18: here are the practical details « . A series of information available first on the federal government website, are relayed on the website of one of the major TV channels with a more attractive layout.

Finally a first article slightly critical of the way the the end of its nose on Saturday morning, putting in doubts, particularly the number of daily tests 4.

From On the RTBF side, apart from a press release from the Ligue des familles on the concern for the parents of young children in the face of this deconfinement plan, last night we could read « practical » articles similar to those of RTL.

Beatrice Delvaux was pleased to announce on La Première this Saturday morning that the newspaper Le Soir released a « Special decontamination guide » issue… At the same time, an article reporting the satisfaction of the employers is published on the site of the Evening. It should be noted that the following information is also available on the newspaper of articles narrating a day of the Prime Minister.

Of course, journalistic practice also requires hindsight, and it is better to avoid knee-jerk reactions in order to offer carefully thought-out critical analyses. Nevertheless, after 6 weeks of crisis, the different issues of the situation and especially the amateurism of this government are known. If there are criticisms, they are most of the time conventional or targeted at individuals or specific cases, but rarely touching a system, or (anti)social and economic policies that can easily be described as irresponsible. It should not be forbidden to go outside the box… However, if we take into account the way in which a journalist questioning the major choices made by the government is treated, this is obviously the case. 

He There seems to be a confusion between the work of the communicators of government services and the work of some journalists. Who questions the issues and perspectives of the health situation, economic and political present if journalists don’t do it, or at least at the margin?

What priorities?

Alexandre Penasse is described as a conspiracy theorist for only daring to issue doubts about the impartiality of government advisors because of their connection to commercial enterprises. Every evening at At 8:00 p.m., the TV news broadcasts images of the population applauding the windows and balconies, to thank the courage of the staff hospital that struggles without means… The confinement is experienced very differently according to social class, neighborhood, and the work, origins and life situations. While some people mainly due to the negligence of the State, the question of the essential, is it when can we go to the gym, go to the store, or that Walibi will reopen?

Wouldn’t the main question be rather, how to organize a recovery of economic activity if there is no prior complete refinancing of the health sector? Marius Gilbert, epidemiologist and member of the government’s expert group, told the rtbf that economic pressure has been prioritized over health. Policies have gone against the advice of scientific experts. 

The two questions that were planned and that Alexandre Penasse could not ask:

1) « Vous dites qu’il faut se serrer la ceinture et qu’il va falloir faire des efforts, or il existe des alternatives aux politiques d’austérité imposées aux populations. Il s’agit de suspendre le remboursement de la dette en utilisant l’argument d’état de nécessité5. Pourquoi ne pas envisager cette solution ? »

2)  » Are you going to put human and technical means to stop tax evasion? Because preventing tax evasion would allow money to be brought back from tax havens and reinvested in the health sector?  » 6

Notes et références
  1. Voir
  5. L’état de nécessité : un état peut renoncer à poursuivre le remboursement de la dette si la situation objective menace gravement la population et que la poursuite du paiement de la dette l’empêche de répondre aux besoins les plus urgents de la population.
  6. Il est possible de porter plainte contre les organisateurs de l’évasion fiscale, voir sur ce lien:

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