Kooli: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Bashing the Center Party
In an ERR opinion piece, journalist Rain Kooli writes of why he didn't mention the Center Party's "media empire" in his weekly radio commentary for some time, and why he reconsidered.
The Center Party, which runs Tallinn, is different from other Estonian parties, explains Kooli, in that it is like a sect, with fanatical supporters and haters. (The Reform Party is similar, he says, but Center is a more "heartless" manifestation of a sect.)
Center's other unique distinction, he said, is that it has managed to create an "unprecedented media empire," lacking only a radio station and news website (the latter may be on the way).
"The entire empire was created largely with taxpayer money, and the legal opportunity to do so comes from having sole power in Tallinn.
"At some point, I stopped talking about the newspapers published by the capital city and its districts, Tallinn TV and the Center Party newspaper Kesknädal. I felt it did more harm than good - it was like an illustration of the principle 'any press is good press.' I felt referring to […] media in the Center Party's sphere of influence would reinforce the apostles' support for their Leader and belief in the party's dogmas - such as the claim that 'we aren't doing anything wrong but our enemies want to destroy us.'
"Lately, though, I have started reappraising my position and now I feel I was wrong. The question can't be whether the criticism leveled at the Center Party media empire persuades its adherents or not. The goal of media criticism isn't and can't be to change people's political preferences.
"The question is really about what Tallinn taxpayer money is used for and in what amounts. Looking at how the [abovementioned media sources] are used shamelessly for political propaganda and even inciting ethnic and racial intolerance, no citizen with a conscience can be silent. Especially as these citizens with consciences do criticize other parties."
Critics shouldn't shy away from criticizing Center for fear of increasing publicity for the party, Kooli concludes.