What had all along been speculated and commented on by Liberians, local and international institutions that the Liberian press converted itself into a public relation and propaganda machine for the Unity Party and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf re-election during the elections in Liberia, has gotten a human face and no more a mere speculation.
The Managing Editor of the Heritage Newspaper, Mr. Mohammed Kanneh in a boastful spirit told a public gathering while in conversation in Monrovia that he had just returned from Accra, Ghana along with other media institutions where each media institution received US$100,000.00 (one hundred thousand United States dollars) from the Unity Party for final payment as payoff for the propaganda they carried out for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s re-election, the party’s Standard Bearer during the October and November elections.
Mr. Kanneh revelation came when he found himself in the midst of a gathering of ordinary Liberians discussing how the media had turned itself into propaganda stooges for the ruling Unity Party and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, compromising their role as a watchdog for society and the fourth estate which is under obligation to maintain their independence and not fuel biases.
Responding to the gathering concerns about the prevailing atmosphere and the future of the country, the Heritage Newspaper Managing Editor said, ” If you think somebody gives me US$100,000.00 (one hundred thousand United States dollars), should I refuse it’? I will take, if politicians or political party want the Presidency and do not have money, it is not my business but will accept money from a party or candidate for propaganda”, Mr. Kanneh told the gathering who became offended by his utterances.
Among the leading Liberian media institutions that were in Ghana to get their payoff include; Rodney Sieh and the FrontpageAfrica Newspaper, Phillip Wesseh and The Inquirer, Kenneth Best and the Liberian Observer, Tom Kamara and the New Democrat, The New Dawn, The News Newspaper among other newspapers, television, and radio stations.
Liberia media institutions have come under sharp criticism for their bias reporting and propaganda in favor of the Unity Party and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf against the opposition such that the Carter Center and other international institutions have registered their frustration about the Liberian media’s bad reporting and propaganda posture during the elections.
The Press Union of Liberia’s President Peter Quaqua also expressed frustration over the bad journalism media institutions have ventured into, fueling tension and partisan wranglings. The Press Union President told his fellow journalists during a one day pre-run-off media conference to refrained from employing bad journalism and remain the watchdog of society the fourth estate is all about.
Four media institutions which refused to be a part of the Unity Party’s media sellout scheme were shutdown by government on November 7 for airing and streaming the violence perpetrated against the opposition CDC Party by police, a clash in which partisans threw stones and police fired live bullets into unarmed partisans, killing several partisans and many injured in the riot. A Judge later ordered the re-opening of those media institutions and are since back on the air
Police clashed with the opposition CDC party November 7 when the party staged an election boycott rally at its headquarters to protest the run-off election which the party was boycotting for what it considered a fraud process which needed reform for the transparency of the election.