By Pinky Khoabane
Huffington Post is projected as a left-wing online news magazine and yet its South African partners, Media24 are a racist bunch with historical links to the Nationalist Party. Left, Right, difficult to decipher.
It’s therefore not difficult to see why Verashni Pillay was fired from Huffington Post SA for a hoax article calling for the withdrawal of the right of white men to vote. In publishing the article, she was literally biting the hand that feeds her. It couldn’t be allowed.
For some unknown reason, Pillay thought she could publish the call to disenfranchise white males – her bosses, her racists, the same racists she has condoned and supported – and think her salary would continue.
Pillay may like to say she resigned but it is clear that she was pushed. In her resignation letter she mentioned her respect for decisions by the press ombudsman. Ombudsman Johan Retief was scathing of the article saying it called for the voting rights of white men to be stripped and had therefore violated the press code and constituted hate speech. The jury is still out on the hate speech bit as nowhere in the article does it call for people to cause harm or hatred towards white men.
But having “respected” the ombudsman and resigned as a result of his ruling, it turned out Pillay approached Joe Thloloe of the Press Council of South Africa to establish if she could challenge the ruling in her individual capacity. So much for respect and voluntary resignation! Thloloe has since lodged an application for leave to appeal the hate speech ruling.
Media 24’s Links with Nationalist Party
“In 1914 J.B.M. Hertzog forms the National Party. The following year Nasionale Pers i.e Naspers is formed by the same man, along with a daily newspaper, De Burger, later known as Die Burger.
D F Malan, a former minister in the conservative Dutch Reformed Church is persuaded to become editor and is the main supporter of Hertzog’s National Party”. Here’s a well researched article on the background to Naspers https://medialternatives.com/2010/06/09/apartheid-inc-profile-of-a-racist-corporation/
“The racially exclusive Afrikaner secret society, Die Afrikaner Broederbond is formed. A Broederbond circular from this time states: ‘The Afrikanerdom shall reach its ultimate destiny of domination in South Africa . . . Brothers, our solution for South Africa’s troubles is not that this or that party shall gain the upper hand, but that the Afrikaner Broederbond shall rule South Africa.
“D. F. Malan is one of the driving forces behind the organisation.
Piet Cillie’ editor of Die Burger from 1954 until 1985 is a staunch supporter of the National Party, under B J Vorster and P W Botha. Cillie’ upholds the apartheid system through many pro-segregation editorials until the very end”.
Huffington enters SA market in 2016
On 28 September 2016, Verashni Pillay announced she would be leaving her job a few days short of completing a year as editor-in-chief of Mail & Guardian. She announced she would be leaving to join what most of us thought was a “left” or “liberal” international online news site. But there’s a very thin line if one exists, in South Africa especially, between liberals and conservatives.
She penned what could only be a “teary” article on leaving the newspaper but we already knew the M&G was riddled with financial problems which had prompted the retrenchment of senior staff. In short, we never bought the story that she left for any other reasons but financial.
Pillay took over amid reports of financial problems at M&G which led to retrenchments of the paper’s senior staff including then editor Angela Quintal who had been at the flagship for two years or so.
“I’ve been building up to October this year. It would mark one year as editor and I had planned to pen a letter to the Mail & Guardian readers, staff and industry watchers to celebrate the remarkable gains we’ve made this past year, and to outline the challenges that still remain and how we’re going to forge ahead.
“I never thought that, instead, I would be writing my farewell letter.
“I love the M&G probably a little more than is healthy. I’ve been here for six years in total, and have given it my all. But two things have happened: an opportunity came knocking that I just couldn’t refuse and I realised I had accomplished much of what I had set out to achieve at the M&G. I wasn’t looking to leave at all and the offer to be editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post in South Africa came in the last few days”.
Irony of Blackening a paper owned by a Black
One of her objectives as editor of M&G, Pillay stated, was to project the M&G as “not a white paper”. The hypocrisy of South Africa’s media astounds but her goal to blacken the paper goes to the question we’ve been asking. Who runs South Africa’s commercial media? The anti-black sentiment reflected in the content does not reflect the so-called black ownership by these media outlets. The M&G for example, is supposedly owned by one Trevor Ncube from Zimbabwe and yet the editor’s goal in 2015 was to “blacken” the paper. Ironically, Mathatha Tsedu was fired from the Sunday Times for “dumbing down” the paper – targeting the black audience.
Pillay left to start a publication partly owned by Media24, perverse in its racism, and somewhere it emerges Ferial Haffajee who had supposedly left City Press to join Bloomberg, later joined Huffington Post! Haffajee led a campaign against FakeNews, even putting together a “FAKE NEWS” seminar when pictures of her photoshopped with Africa’s billionaire Johann Rupert hit social media. How ironic it is then that Huffington Post SA was exposed for fake journalism. Tom Eaton exposed the use of click-baiting, a ploy to attack readers. https://callingthroughthefog.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/the-huffington-ghost-a-new-low-for-sa-media/
We know Haffajee ensured the departure of many senior black journalists from City Press. While City Press was punting itself as “Distinctly African”, she substituted the senior black writers with white writers.
THere’s nothing different in content between Huffington Post SA and the rest of SA’s commercial media. And the links to Media24 are enough reason.
Pillay was brave in one piece where she challenged her colleagues, in a counter to articles discrediting Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s leaked report on Ciex. On that rare occasion she had tried to be independent of her bosses and peers but she quickly became the lone voice as the commercial media spin went into overdrive. She had to toe the line or else….
Hers is the difficulty editors face these days – balancing the principles of editorial integrity and commercial viability on one hand, and one’s individual integrity against the individual financial sustainability. Commercial media practitioners would like us to believe in the myth of objectivity when we know they protect the interests of their bosses and their own salaries. A lifestyle audit of South Africa’s editors will reveal that they can’t afford to irritate their bosses.