Thursday, October 15, 2015

The faltering Jammeh propaganda machine

When Gambians woke up to a blaring Daily Observer headline that read "Fatou Camara in her own words", referring, of course, to the former Press Secretary of the Gambian dictator and television talk show host who now runs a very popular online radio, all the Jammeh propaganda press outlets unashamedly ran with the story - by replicating the original, word-for-word - without understanding the potentially damaging effect it might have on the regime.

The story, as it appeared om the Daily Observer (the regime's official mouthpiece), was extraordinary in that it was the first time, perhaps, anywhere, that an entire cautionary statement was ever used so irresponsibly and callously to score a cheap political point.  For it coming from a dictatorial regime that exerts power through force and intimidation and against a lone woman and a civilian at that, spoke volumes about the extraordinary length the dictatorship will go counteract a growing opposition to its being.  Equally extraordinary was the use of the newspaper of record of the Jammeh dictatorship and its mouthpiece to lash back at the enemy.  The fact that the cautionary statement was to be used exclusively in a court of law did not matter at all.  To make matters worse, it was doctored and dressed up with fabrications in such a convoluted and disgusting way that it rendered the entire article fallacious.

The propaganda press of the dictatorship, both at home and abroad, has been growing in number to counteract the proliferation of a very lively and vibrant online press, owned and operated by dissident groups in the United States and Europe opposed to the Jammeh regime.  Jammeh's propaganda press is made up of online news websites that have been created purposely to counter the growing number of the opposition press. in addition to those that are owned by others sympathetic to the regime. What all share in common in their panache for libelous attacks against opponents - real and perceived - especially those considered to hold a degree of sway of public opinion that is now in favor of replacing Jammeh with a respectable government.

In their attempt to regain its previously dominant position that allowed them to set the tone and determined the narrative, the Jammeh propaganda press has grown sloppy as they watch the influence continue to diminish with time.  They are increasingly being seen more as peddlers of Jammeh propaganda than sources of reliable news their audience base last to other dissident-run news sites. The result is frustration, bordering on anger at the success of Jammeh's opponents, resulting in more and more use of anonymous political operatives and sycophants posing as journalists and opinion writers to spew hate and personal attacks on opponents of the regime.  All of this can be seen as acts of desperation in the face of imminent defeat of dictatorship at the hands of a determined and focused diaspora activists and opinion-shapers who are working in tandem with the opposition parties at home and international human rights organizations abroad.