Media bias bad for democracy, UDA official says

Nyeri United Democratic Alliance (UDA) coordinator Lucy Wanyitu has called for objective reporting by journalists following alleged bias in the coverage of the just concluded General Election.

Lucy accused some leading media houses of out rightly leaning on one side of the political divide during the electioneering media coverage, something which she said would have been a recipe for disharmony in the country.

She noted that since the start of the campaigns in which deputy President William Ruto (and the current president- elect) and the Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga hit the road to popularise their policies, media houses started allocating disproportionate airtime to the duo which is unacceptable for objective reporting.

“The kind of biasness we witnessed during this year’s elections from some of the leading media houses was shocking if not shameful. From the start reporters seemed to have decided on who to popularise and who to give less coverage. Were it not for the social media things would have been worse as the majority of Kenyans would have remained in the dark as far as what was going on in the presidential results was concerned,” Wanyitu told KNA.

The official however lauded the national broadcaster, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), for remaining objective in their coverage all through the electioneering period and urged the incoming government to inject more funds in the operations of the public broadcaster to ensure it continues to discharge its mandate more efficiently.

Last month Dr Ruto had threatened to withdraw from a presidential debate that had been organised by the Media Owners Association, Media Council of Kenya and Kenya Editors’ Guild citing what he termed as unfair treatment.

The president -elect said it was a waste of time participating in a debate organised by media houses that had openly taken sides in the election.

“If the presidential debate is being organised by a media house which has taken sides, what moral authority do they have to tell us to participate in the debate?” Ruto had posed at the time.

But in a dissenting opinion, the Media Council of Kenya later reported that Dr Ruto had been given the most coverage in its press statement released on July 13 this year.

The council said that since July 1 this year, the deputy president had received 46 percent of airtime, followed by Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga at 45 per cent.

Wanyitu has also exuded confidence Dr Ruto will finally be sworn in as the fifth president of Kenya despite the looming Supreme Court petition expected to be filed by Raila.

She said this year’s election was one of the most transparent in the country’s history where every Kenyan had an opportunity to verify the tally of the presidential votes in the comfort of his or her house.

The official has also lauded the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) saying it outsmarted its critics by feeding the presidential results from all the 290 constituencies into a common portal within the reach of all.

Lack of transparency in the transmission of the 2017 presidential elections was one of the loopholes that led to the nullification of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory by the apex court.

“Let those who feel disgruntled by the outcome of the presidential results seek legal redress from the relevant courts. What we know is that such a petition will be dead on arrival. It is rather sinister to note that some of those who are challenging the outcome are IEBC commissioners who were present throughout the tallying process and only came out to dispute the outcome towards the tail end of the exercise. These are some of the things that point to a possible well-choreographed script by certain players to delay the swearing-in of the winner of this election,” she claimed.

On Monday Chebukati declared Ruto as the winner of the August 9 election after garnering 7,176,146 votes in a contest that had attracted four candidates.

His closest challenger, Raila came a close second after scooping 6,942,708 votes.

On Tuesday while addressing the nation for the first time, Raila rejected the outcome of the poll setting the stage for a legal battle at the Supreme Court of Kenya.

In the event the court nullifies the elections, it will be the second time the poll body will have its conduct brought under serious scrutiny following the nullification of the 2017 election by the apex court.



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