Sunday, March 30, 2014

When The Scandalous Story Breaks

Those who read the British tabloids or watch the TV series, Scandal, will know that Max Clifford and Olivia Pope are spin doctors who mint a lucrative living spinning round the most negative accusations thrown at celebrities or politicians for things like drugs, homosexuality, infidelity, rape, DUI and drunken brawls into positive stories and even making money for said Celebrity by selling their stories to the papers.

In Uganda, scandal in the media was born with Uganda Confidential, a rag publication printed on A4 somewhere in the backstreets of Nkrumah road I so suspect. And those who featured in it were politicians.

Today it is a different story. On the newspaper racks are a number of tabloids packed to the rafters with scandal after scandal about celebrities – be it politicians, athletes, radio presenters, nightclub owners and the rich.

And there is a population who like piranhas, are ready to devour and lap up just about everything that is printed – regardless of whether it’s true or not.

When a scandal breaks, this is how it happens. When the Namanve based tabloid wrote a story about me a few Sunday’s ago – a story with had an element of truth but riddled with a large amount of fantasy and fiction, the calls and txts started early on Sunday morning. Of the 120 txts that I got, all asked if I had seen the papers. 150 plus phone calls again all asked if I had seen the papers. The callers and those sending txts had an agenda - for me to elaborate on the story so that they could pass on what I said to all who cared to listen.

One caller was different. Simon Kaheru, a social analyst - he called to find out if the story was fiction but more importantly, to impart some advice – to get police to clarify how the shooting by Flying Squad went down and issue a statement saying that what Namanve based tabloid had printed was riddled with fiction rather than truth.

And that got me thinking. In the past, whenever we have had cause to celebrate and the papers run a positive story, we never get 234 txt messages of congratulations nor do we get more than 150 phone calls from well wishers. And I suspect that Capital FMs Alex Ndawula, former Mayor Nasser Ssebagala, NTVs Josephine Karungi and Sylvia Owori who have all recently been slaughtered, had their intestines yanked out in the tabloids and left for the vultures to pick over, hardly got any supportive messages or calls.

But whatever the scandal, becoming a hermit won’t work for it only fuels depression. I was out Owori a few weeks ago in Deuces and she looked good. Of course a good number of people gawped at her and pointed fingers but she held firm. We had a number of drinks and parted company. Karungi too, is still on the 9:00pm NTV news bulletin in her usual chirpy self while Ndawula is still rocking the Capital airwaves. Over the past two weeks, I have learned to deal with stares from shoppers wherever it is that I go.

At the end of it all, it all blows over but sadly there will be other ‘fish to fry’, there will be other Celebrity that the frenzied public will want to feast on and there will be other lives to ruin – not because the truth was told, but through fantasy reporting.

Then again, I used to edit Have you Heard, so am I getting my comeuppance? I guess the people I used to write were in glee. Others probably threw a party. And my inner circle? They rallied round me.