Opinion: There is a difference between journalists who write under pseudonyms and others who write under their own name and have to take public responsibility for what they write, writes Clyde Ramalaine.
The Africa News 24-7 relaunch into a new brand, Africa News Global (ANG), with an event attended by a crossbreed of guests including leaders of political parties, ministers and business people, continues to attract attention from interesting circles.
While we have seen News24 reporting objectively on the event, Daily Maverick opted to engage in the theatrics of dragging the Patriotic Alliance into the fray. In the Sunday Times (29 August 2021), Hogarth determined to lead the charge with his borrowed linking-dots notion.
Hogarth opted to use one of my more recent articles in which I engage the intention of CR22 to play the ANCWL in promising a woman deputy president when he knows he will end up with a male.
Hogarth took issue with this assertion: “Given the history of the Sunday Times and its rather cosy, often mouthpiece-role relationship with Ramaphosa, we must accept the information as more than credible,” I wrote in a column published by Africa News 24-7.
This was about the Sunday Times breaking the news and sharing the intention of Ramaphosa picking Thandi Modise as his next deputy.
He thus set out to prove how credible the Sunday Times is with the words, “Well, sir, unlike the rag you are writing for, here [at the Sunday Times] we check and double-check our information, so you are damn right it is more than credible.”
This one-liner meant to be a rebuttal inadvertently confirms the proximity of the Sunday Times to Ramaphosa, meaning his political agenda is well known to them, when it is not yet even canvassed in the ANC.
Hogarth was singing for his lunch in trying to be the Sunday Times spokesperson. Maybe he should have double-checked what he was defending in credibility claims because the Sunday Times has more than a questionable track record.
It is a media outlet with grave findings and sanctions against it, falling desperately short in every aspect of being an ethical media outlet that gathers and reports in uphold of ethical journalism’s dictate.
Maybe we must help Hogarth from his drunken stooper since he is swaggering into heavy oncoming traffic.
There is a difference between journalists who write under pseudonyms and others who write under their own name and have to take public responsibility for what they write.
There is a cowardliness in this type of journalism, the cover for unethical free-for-all sensationalism to say things no responsible person would dare publish.
Their mouths scream abuse and lies, but their faces are hidden.
But it is a “type” of journalist and the Sunday Times is that type of paper.
There is a reason why in journalistic terms, such sensation-spouting papers are called the “yellow press”.
But the Americans also use the term “yellow” for someone who is a coward, but is hiding behind the skirts of a bully who protects him. Hogarth is both.
The Sunday Times’ slew of retractions pokes holes into claims of integrity and credibility.
As the adage goes, cited in the Pauline writing of an ancient text 2 Corinthians 13: 1, “In the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall every word be established.”
In case Hogarth and his crew forgot the 2018 SARS Rogue Unit retraction, which must qualify for the clearest sign of a Sunday Times that is not just a serial offender and fatally compromised.
Ombudsman Johan Retief was scathing in his ruling when he slammed the Sunday Times for its “inaccurate, misleading and unfair” reportage on the matter.
Then editor, Bongani Siqoko is on record to have said politicians “used us”. By his own admission, he acknowledged that they were used for a particular political agenda.
If the Sunday Times could be used for political agendas, what guarantee do we have that the Sunday Times will not repeat this practice? Its many retractions and apologies confirm a publication and outfit wholly compromised, unrepentant, and arguably unrehabilitated.
Shall we remind Hogarth that the Sunday Times has at some stage had weekly retractions? Again, maybe Hogarth was on holiday when Siqoko, among others, made this confession verbatim: “But we admit here today that something went wrong in the process of gathering the information and reporting the Cato Manor, Sars and Zimbabwean renditions stories. This is after we engaged constructively with all key parties involved in the stories.”
Hogarth beats his hollow drum of a trustworthy Sunday Times when the list of retractions by this media outlet is endless. Juxtapose this track record of retractions with the indisputable record of the 5-year-old Africa News 24-7 platform that never once had to publish an apology or do any retraction.
Hogarth might do better to tell his readers how the new owners acquired the Sunday Times. He must tell us how the PIC money was useful to purchase it as an outlet.
Indeed, the Sunday Times and Ramaphosa share more than bed sheets. Hogarth pleads a convenient ignorance of the role of the Sunday Times in the upkeep of a Ramaphosa presidency. Again, let us jog his opaque and intermittent memory.
Back in 2017, when the Sunday Independent under the editorship of Steve Motale was about to break exclusive news on a slew of indiscretions, in which young ladies featured, one the part of Ramaphosa, it was to the Sunday Times that he took refuge.
Those who know will tell you, Ramaphosa was frantically calling the owner of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Surve to intervene to block the publication, in what can be disregard for editorial independence.
It was then that he went to his trusted media partner, The Sunday Times, intending to neutralise the debilitating story on his infidelities which showed him as fake in moral campaigning.
Hogarth seemingly does not know that The Sunday Times had a headline story of Ramaphosa concession to one extra-marital affair. Right here, the Sunday Times acted as public relations and mouthpiece of Ramaphosa.
Interestingly, this past weekend, The Sunday Times satirical cartoon had a picture with ANC Chairperson Gwede Mantashe, Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile and Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte with eggs on their faces for the shame of salary non-payment of the ANC staff.
I guess Hogarth sees nothing wrong with Ramaphosa’s absence from this cartoon when he is the president of the ANC. This is more than symptomatic of the Sunday Times – it is natural to exonerate Ramaphosa even at the expense of the ANC and all other leaders.
Hogarth opted to take a cheap unoriginal shot at the keynote speaker Minister Lindiwe Sisulu labelling her a “struggle princess”. He could not even be authentic and say something new.
Hogarth exposed himself as unfortunately wholly incapable of engaging the speech Sisulu delivered at the relaunch of the Africa News 24-7, hence he resorted to the lame cheap labelling, mouthing emptiness.
We must assume Hogarth, the low-end of a high heeled but translucent functionary of a political agenda, weekly parades as the adjudicator of all and sundry when he is totally blind to his and the Sunday Times nakedness, is precisely what is wrong with the Sunday Times.
Let us remind Hogarth that his liberty to express his weekly bile is a direct result because “the princess” struggled, went to jail and exile to have a free press as an ANC non-negotiable. One must inquire from Hogarth where he was when “the princess” underwent her military training as a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe to fight for freedom.
On another score, let us ask Hogarth where his hero Ramaphosa was during that season? Please, Mr Hogarth take a smoke break and read Anthony Butler on your icon Ramaphosa, the white hope and insurance policy, was being trained by white monopoly capital in the Urban Foundation. In what the Americans understand as a good house nigger, enslaved to work for white interest against his people.
Mosiuoa Lekota, leader of COPE, not so long ago in Parliament, revealed how Ramaphosa penned a letter accusing Lekota and others of contaminating his mind with communist rhetoric.
Ramaphosa was strangely freed while Lekota and others remained locked up. Ramaphosa never denied the letter’s existence because he cannot. He instead opted to say he never sold out. Can Hogarth ask him why he was then released and his comrades kept in jail at the time?
Hogarth will have to concede that there is simply no comparison between Lindiwe Sisulu and Cyril Ramaphosa in track record. In fact, he will do well to know it was Sisulu who recruited Ramaphosa into the ANC.
Please ask your hero about this, we know he does not want anyone to know. As a Cabinet minister that has served in no less than eight portfolios, she has much more experience and knows more than Ramaphosa who could not explain what he did as deputy president as the circus of the Zondo Commission showed. She has remained his superior in political formation, ANC culture, and her public addresses are streets ahead of the surface level, mundane often empty and devoid of substance statements of Ramaphosa.
Are we surprised that Hogarth takes his aim at Africa News Global? Whose proxy war is he fighting, and will we also find his name on the list of those who cannot be disclosed as having received emoluments for nefarious reporting on others in support of their factional agenda? Shall we speculate as to how much Hogarth is paid for this hogwash?
*Clyde Ramalaine is a political writer and academic.
** The views expressed herein are not those of Independent Media.