The mainstream media is repeatedly held up as a bastion of credibility by the government.
If you want facts, truth and accuracy, turn to the mainstream media, it tells Singaporeans.
On the other hand, social media and so-called alternative news sites such as this one are often held up as a hotbed for distortion of facts and brimming with fake news.
Naturally, corrective directions under the Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation Act (POFMA) are periodically issued for social media posts and articles.
It’s no surprise that Singapore has slumped to an all-time low of #158 in the latest World Press Freedom Index. Our country is ranked even lower than Russia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Of course, the government scoffs at such press freedom rankings. It picks and chooses what global rankings to embrace and what to thrash.
So the government builds on its cosy relationship with the mainstream media. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.
The government heaps praises on the mainstream media, which reciprocates by doing all it can to stay in the good books of the government, even to the extent of second-guessing what pleases and displeases the government.
A press conference or media interview has no cutting edge – there is only acquiescence, not probing and prodding.
Would any journalist have the nerve to ask a minister whether the COVID-19 pandemic has been mishandled?
Would anyone from the mainstream media dare ask if “sorry” is more appropriate than “thank you” to the migrant workers, and to Singaporeans for that matter?
We know the answers.
The mainstream media never asks the tough questions, it only treats the government with kid gloves.
Over time, the government becomes soft and flabby.
Put someone like Manpower Minister Josephine Teo through a BBC interview and she comes across as part incoherent part arrogant because she is not used to that line of questioning.
Ultimately, mollycoddling by the mainstream media is to the detriment of the government.
We all know the story of the emperor with no clothes.
Such a fate lies in wait for a government that delights in being feted by a compliant and subservient mainstream media – and staunch allies – who would look the other way rather than level up, who would bootlick and cheer on regardless because it is more convenient to tell the government only what it wants to hear.