In the last decade of the nineteenth century in America, two influential newspapers - New York World and New York Journal – went all out in a fierce competition that adopted sensationalized news reporting, prompting New York Press affiliates to coin the term yellow journalism.
Since then, the term “Yellow Journalism” has been associated with practices that go against the basic principles of journalism by skewing the facts or even deceiving the public. It is also widely accepted, now more than ever, that this yellownism combined with social media networking has reached unfathomable levels due to the link between online visits and monetary value.
And if you don’t fancy a site, you simply visit something else, flip to another channel, or change your way of life. But this yellonism is becoming dangerous when it becomes a tool in politics, especially an instrument for government policy.
Hopping over Red Lake fiasco
In our case, in order to distract voters away from the appalling fiasco of the Red Lake murders, the president took on the presence of the Turkish vessel Fatih some 24 nautical miles off Akamas and elevated the situation by calling it a “second invasion” and only stopping short of calling for a national mobilization.
The government also did not hesitate to escalate the issue at the foreign policy level. After getting angry at the United Nations for not acting in response to “the violation of a state’s sovereign rights by another member” the president then took the issue to the informal European Council summit in Romania, but he failed to find a willing audience there too.
Then in the British parliament our very own MP questioned minister Alan Duncan, who had spoken about not carrying out drilling in disputed territory (which is fully compliant with UNCLOS articles 74 and 83).
On the brink of eruption
The rage in Nicosia was on the brink of a volcano eruption, but when the president received a phone call from UN envoy Jane Lute, who oddly remains committed, he reassured her of his determination to take part in a discussion that would create conditions for the resumption of peace talks in accordance with the UN Charter. And suddenly, out of nowhere, the six points in the Guterres framework reached an insurmountable gap, and so now it is the UN Charter. Now Anastasiades’ associates in Crans Montana, Guterres, Mogherini, and Duncan, must be more certain than ever about his intentions.
But we also see similar kinds of giant leaps over a “Yellow Lake” when it comes to local issues, with ministers tendering their resignations in ways that are simply unseen in political institutions overseas. A case in point is the resignation of finance minister Harris Georgiades, which was announced back in March and will become effective later in December. Another example is the resignation of justice minister Ionas Nicolaou, who resigned 19 days after the unexplainable police handling of missing cases, with seven innocent people killed and his outgoing date set for 1 June 2019, citing a matter of political conscience.
Facts louder than words
On 10 May 2019, the state’s attorney ordered the police to “initiate immediately a criminal investigation” into the now-defunct cooperative bank’s credit unions. Not one week later, on 15 May 2019, the Limassol criminal court acquitted four defendants in the Agia Fyla co-op case. A panel of judges dismissed the hundred charges in connection with shaky loans worth over €6 million, citing the prosecution team’s failure to build a solid case.
On 16 May 2019, the state’s prosecution office requested a deferment in the third criminal case against Bank of Cyprus executives, following an appeal filed by the state’s attorney over a court’s acquittal of top bankers Andreas Eliades and Yiannis Kypri.
Lady Justice gone missing
Besides, I have a suspicion that Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron Nicolatos was forgiven of his sins - I have to assume because of the Easter holidays - following revelations that his daughter and sister settled with the bank out of court while he was presiding over a case from involving that very same institution.
But the biggest backpedaling reflected off the surface of the yellow lake dates back to September 2014, when the president scolded a team of 30 investigators who were tasked with finding the guilty parties in the banking and financial collapse. He visited the assembled investigators, accompanied by the justice minister, as well as attorney general Costas Clerides and former police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou, and warned them: “I have made it absolutely clear that the state shall have zero tolerance and will not tolerate any cover up of anyone who may be involved in any offence,” adding that “soon there will be an outcome.”
Since then, a cement block was pulled out of the water in the yellow lake… the body of Lady Justice is still missing.
The article was first published by Kathimerini Cyprus on 19 May 2019