Rogue Nation Channel and “America War” | 8.07.05

It’s 22:51, Thailand time, 31 hours to the minute after the first bomb went off in London. And this is what Nation Channel’s homepage looks like:

Nation Channel website

The lead story at the top left:

Nation Channel: “Boom!! Underground train in central London”

Boom!! Underground train in the heart of London

There [has/have] been an explosion[s] in the financial district in Britain’s London in the morning of today, local time, causing many injured. Metronet, a maintenance company for the rail network, states that the explosion[s] [was/were] caused by an electric short circuit. At the same time, there have been dispatches of ambulances to the scene, because there are passers-by sustaining injuries.

Short circuit? And this, from an outlet whose slogan/motto/blurb is “24-hour news channel”. I mean, they can’t even claim to be a “24-hour-ago news channel”.

Should we be grateful then that this story is contradicted by a more recent one just below it? Well, not so fast:

Nation Channel: “America War”

Al-Qaeda bombs 7 underground train stations in London

Causing almost half a hundred deaths and as many as one thousand injured. “European Al-Qaeda” claims responsibility, pointing that [it] did so to revenge Britain’s participation in the wars in Iraq [and] Afghanistan.

This is, of course, neither very up-to-date nor very accurate: the explosions did not occur at the stations, nor just underground, and the number is four, not seven, all of which has been known for more than 24 hours. Like I said, this is not even 24-hour-ago news.

But the most egregious thing about this item is not what’s in it, but what it’s filed under. See the black-on-white lettering right next to President Bush’s face? That’s “สงครามอเมริกา” or “America War”. Yes, terrorists attack muslim-populated parts of London and it’s America War. And mind you that far from being an ad hoc feature, hastily put together after the bombings, this is a permanent space for news that other organizations would put under “War on Terror” or at the very least “Terrorism” (although there are also Iraq-related items). Think the trials of the Bali bombing suspects, for example. The white-on-red lettering (“เกาะติดสถานการณ์”) means “closely following the situation”.

Normally — insofar as I can use this word in a Thai context — that would’ve been the worst that I can imagine in one settting. But the London terror attacks apparently inspired Nation Channel, which is sinking to new low tonight with the “Exclusive Files” just to the right of “America War”:

Nation Channel: “Tony Blair declares”

Tony Blair makes a statement!!

Terrorism!! Bomb underground trains in the heart of London. Injured. Dead. On “the seventh day of the seventh month [at] seven locations simultaneously!!” Blair makes a statement. Manner, countenance visibly tense. Not taking reporters’ questions, admitting [it] is certainly terrorism!! Meanwhile, Bush, old buddy, was standing right behind, stone-faced, equally speechless. Which country is next bears watching!! Go watch this statement in full again!!

Never mind the accuracies that I’ve already mentioned. Never mind that even in Nation Channel’s own photo, it was not just “old buddy” Bush behind Blair, but also old nemesis Chirac. Never mind that also behind Blair were actually five other G-8 leaders behind plus another five world leaders from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa plus the heads of the UN, the EU, and the World Bank, who were there to make the joint statement that Blair delivered condemning the terrorist attacks.

What sickens me — and it would anyone with any decency — is the pervasive giddiness. Whoever wrote this piece of junk was having a romp!! Just look at the friggin’ double exclamation marks!! And this, I repeat, is the homepage of a major news organization!! Have they any shame!?

Now is perhaps a good time to assure you, as usual, that I’ve done my best to ensure that nothing is lost or gained in my translation.

But if you still have any doubt in your mind about how anyone but the terrorists themselves can be so callous, this feature, from a little further down the same homepage, should settle it once and for all:

Nation Channel: “Photo's Today”

Photo leftover from the news Add a caption [actually speech, given the speech balloon –ed.] that suits the picture [and] that makes people go “that’s it!!” [the second clause isn’t a literal translation and sounds much more awkward than the original –ed.]

So Tony Blair’s distress over the terrorist attacks and the casualties is just a game for these people. The latest entry that you’re seeing — “Good” from “ya” — is relatively mild; I’ll spare your sensitivities by not translating the rest.

PS Now before I go take a long shower, I should make absolutely clear to you that Nation Channel is no marginal player in Thailand’s media. Although it often says so itself, it is indeed Thailand’s first and perhaps only 24-hour news channel (I hear not much happens during nighttime, but that’s expected). The network has been granted an interview with President Bush at the White House. The Nation Group’s English-language newspaper, The Nation, is one of the two distributed countrywide and is widely read, believed, and cited by international correspondents (The Economist, for example, has praised it as “the country’s most outspoken newspaper”. Despite its sheer awfulness, which beats even the Bangkok Post’s, The Nation somehow manages to have not only a good reputation among international correspondents, expats, and Thailand watchers but also one that rubs off well on the whole tightly interconnected media empire. For instance, Asiapundit links to my post about a thoroughly false article about Paul Krugman in Krungthep Thurakij, the Nation Group’s business daily, with these words:

Tom Vamvanij has noted some creative translating by Thailand’s (usually respectable) Nation Media Group.

I hope no one who’s read this post will ever again associates the word “respectable” with this hideous media giant. Or any other Thai media outfits, for that matter.

22:46 ▪ media

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