Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Leaked “Email-gate” is Criminal, not Investigative Journalism

Every good and sound investigation is founded on facts that support a plausible theory. When we say, “investigative journalism” we are talking about a journalist who has taken months to research and buildup information and obtain facts which when put together provides a plausible theory or even an actual validated story. 

Investigative journalism is usually conducted with the intent to uncover a covert undertaking of a corrupt nature, either in the political arena or in government. Investigative reporting is supposed to be a primary source of information; it is the underlying premise upon which the term “public watchdog” is applied to the Fourth Estate.

In an investigative report the journalist will utilize analysis of documents, law suits, taxation documents accounts or public records, scrutiny of government policies and practices and analysis of social and legal issues. The journalist will interview various sources, some even anonymous with information directly related to the subject of investigation, and the journalist will use law that de-classifies information in order to obtain government reports.

If you add all of this up, it’s clear we DON’T have investigative journalism going on in our local media. What we have instead, are half-hearted attempts at appearing to be a journalist while the reporter is fed all sorts of questionable information from single, unnamed and unverified sources, no documentation and questionable acquisition of data.
Take for example the “investigative report” done in a local leading media house that touched on a so-called conspiracy against the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary. 

First of all, the idea that emails are hacked and thus “reliable” documentary evidence is just fiction. Hacking or illegally obtaining documentation from unwilling or unknowing sources is not journalism it is criminal activity.  Any documents obtained in such a manner cannot even be used as evidence to prove a case in a court of law so why would anyone do it?

So perhaps the emails were not actually hacked but LEAKED to the journalist. This brings into question why the emails were leaked, what did the person leaking the emails hope to achieve? Are leaked emails parts of an investigative report, or simply planted information put in the media with the intention to create a specific idea about the goings on in the Judicial Service Commission.
Incidentally, right from the beginning, the entire approach of having a very public fight between the Chief Registrar and the JSC reeked to high heaven. I will not comment on the fact that the Media Group CEO happens to have a spousal connection with the Chief Registrar, I think that is self explanatory.

Interestingly enough, Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News of The World’ applied similar tactics in its so called investigations, hacking, tapping phone calls and leaking photos. Of course, that did not constitute journalism, simply criminal activity which resulted in the 167-year-old paper shutting down in 2011 after the Leveson inquiry.

Some can argue that the contents of the emails are incriminating enough to warrant release to the public. Well, we don’t know what the emails actually contain. All we know is what the “journalist” leaked to the public in his report, one that included fictional characters from a classic film. In the report, the Chief Registrar is supposedly referred to as “Darth Vader.”

For the sake of clarity – Darth Vader is the main villain in the Star Wars series of films developed by George Lucas in the 1970s. The Star Wars tale is not a children’s story, instead a rather adult film based on science fiction with a rather adult and violent story line, cultivated along what is known as a “Redeemer” concept. The “Redeemer” in this film series is prophesied to be the one who will save the galaxy from evil. Though ultimately irredeemably evil himself, Darth Vader is eventually revealed as the “Redeemer” in Star Wars Episode 6 when he somehow finds a miniscule moment of conscience and helps destroy the chief weapon used by evil forces, the Death Star. 

Note: It takes 6 films for Darth Vader to do the right thing.

It’s not a surprise that the first time we heard of similarly fantastic nicknames given to people in the JSC was during a Parliamentary Commission inquiry where Ms. Shollei was testifying.  In fact, it is the Chief Registrar who first mentioned that JSC member lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi referred to himself as “The Grand Mullah.” At the time, I found it rather amusing that a person existed that had such a massive ego. It was rather cartoonish.

The uncanny consistency and similarity in the claims made by the Chief Registrar and the claims made in the investigative ‘email-gate’ report lead one to conclude that the source is the same.
If indeed, there is a person within the JSC whose character is deemed so wicked as to be nicknamed “Darth Vader”, one of Hollywood’s greatest and most evil villains, then for the sake of the galaxy, I think it’s important that person is dealt with. As investigations are conducted in the JSC, I suggest we start with “Darth Vader”.

There is no doubt that an investigation IS going on in the JSC and its intended result is the much needed judicial reforms that the entire nation is waiting for. Let’s face it; our judiciary is in big trouble.  If there was an actual conspiracy going on, complete with a 30 point plan to institute by all means the reforms that are necessary, then such a plan would likely be intended for a greater positive purpose.  The only way to know if such a conspiracy really exists is to look at the facts. Do the facts point to such a plan being implemented? The answer is no. There is no criminality. Instead, it fits the emerging Kenyan pattern perfected in the International Criminal Court cases where the suspect morphs into a victim.

More serious and sinister, is the idea that private and confidential email between members of the JSC and high ranking officials can be leaked to the public and quoted as part of some conspiracy. The notion itself is so insidious and calculating; it is a chilling realization that our Judiciary and the JSC can be infiltrated in such a manner. Journalism does not include directly harassing the Judiciary, that is simply criminal and it should be dealt with as such.


  1. Well, this was about 'Investigative Journalism' until the 8th Paragraph. What a sensational headline, reminds me of the Standard. That aside.

    I have issues with your 5th paragraph, 1st the Media is not a court of law, it is the public court.

    In public court, evidence does not count, the truth does, Remember the famous Rambo movie quote by the former police spokesman? That held in the court of law, but never in the public court.

    In the public court things are as they appear, the rest are just semantics.

    2nd JSC is a body funded by the public taxes, The CJ is paid by the public taxes, that makes them answerable to the public!

    So as a journalist I am 1st and foremost tasked with informing, some things do not require rocket science to conceive, the emails are a good pointer.

    A quick look up of the CJ actions after the leaked emails, suggests there is some element of truth in the story.

    On whether it was an investigative piece or NOT, that is just but a matter of grammar.

    But NO Journalist should sit on such information.

    1. being accountable to the public doesn't mean that your inbox is public record...lol! I think your arguments are rather flimsy, there is no excuse for criminal activity.