When media channels intend to radically transform, change or terminate any of their signature programmes or columns, they inform their audiences in advance as a courtesy.
Not so Citizen TV when it decided to change the ‘Truth Meter’ from a fact check to a satire like Emmanuel Juma’s ‘Bulls Eye’ on NTV.
‘Truth Meter’ commenced on Citizen TV sometime in 2010 when Kenyans were preparing to vote for the new constitution at the referendum held that year. The timing of the programme was perfect because it sought to expose the lies of the supporters and opponents of the new law.
Taking on the character of a similar segment on CNN anchored by Jonathan Mann ahead of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, “Truth Meter” was designed to ensure that audiences decipher the truth from falsehoods propagated by politicians and other interested groups about the contents of the new constitution. ‘Truth Meter’, anchored by reporter Willis Raburu, did a commendable job of sifting facts from lies.
However, the programme slowly started changing its character after the referendum to a point where it has now become a political satire without the editorial management at Citizen TV warning audiences about this radical shift.
‘Truth Meter’ started losing its focus when Willis Raburu and his editors broke the basic rule of logic by failing to reckon with truth values. ‘True‘ or ‘false’ can only be ascribed to declarative sentences. It is amusing to see the “truth meter” activated to either show ‘true’ or ‘false’ even when the sound bite under analysis is a question or an exclamation. For example, it would be perfectly correct if the ‘Truth Meter’ sign was activated to show either ‘true’ or ‘false’ when a sound bite says; “Raila fixed his political opponents at the ICC.” But it would be ridiculous for the ‘Truth Meter’ to be activated to show either ‘true’ or ‘false’ for a sound bite that says; “What powers do I have to fix someone at the ICC?” Citizen TV news mangers would do well to obey the basic rule of logic— which holds that truth or falsehood are properties of propositions and refocus the ‘Truth Meter’ programme to serve its intended purpose of exposing propaganda, especially this time that Kenya is headed for a high-stakes election.
If refocused, Citizen TV could use ‘Truth Meter’ to set the record straight about the cases facing four Kenyans at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the political spins from the political parties, and the race for State House.