Op-Ed — Ad Hominem is Not A Defence

August 25, 2016 The New Atlas 

On August 21, 2016, The Nation newspaper published an article titled, "Prachatai denies funding by Soros foundation influences its news coverage." In it they exposed several Thai-based organisations posing as "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs) as well as the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) of having received funding from controversial billionaire and convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society.

(Jonathan Head of the BBC, also a member of the FCCT. It used to be that when a senior editor was caught intentionally lying to the public they would resign. Head has decided, instead, to attack those who have exposed him and his organisation and refuses to take responsibility for his impropriety.) 
The article constituted brave independent reporting on an issue divergent from the Western media headlines that often dominate and influence Thai English news cycles.

While The Nation contacted and afforded each of the accused an opportunity to defend themselves in the article, The Nation was immediately attacked afterwards by this large foreign-funded network. Rather than honestly deal with the issues discussed in article, these foreign-funded organisations and foreign media outfits attacked The Nation's credentials, professionalism and even individuals at The Nation personally.

It is the same sort of coercive bullying one would expect from the "dictatorship" these foreign-funded fronts attempt to depict running the nation in their daily coverage of Thai politics.

They have also attempted to attack The New Atlas who broke the story and followed it up with definitive evidence that the FCCT's president, Dominic Faulder, intentionally lied to The Nation regarding the FCCT's Open Society funding.

However, their attacks on The New Atlas did not involve questioning the veracity of anything presented in our reports, instead it revolved around "who" is running The New Atlas and "where" we are getting our funding. They have also tried to insinuate that our website being "new" somehow affects the veracity of our content. It does not. The information we have presented can be verified by anyone, anywhere and does not require our "reputation" to back it up. It is not our word that these accusations are based on, but easily verified facts found in documents already confirmed to be authentic.

A wide variety of theories have been concocted by them despite our About Us page being quite clear as to who we are and why we choose to work anonymously. Their attempt to attack and intimidate us vindicates our necessity to do so.

However, ultimately, their questions and baseless accusations are entirely irrelevant and a shameful diversion from what they themselves have been exposed in the midst of.

Did they, or did they not receive funding from Open Society? Yes, they did.

Did the FCCT, or did it not intentionally lie about this funding? Yes, the FCCT most certainly did.

Does the fact that the entirety of Thailand's so-called "opposition" being funded by either the US State Department's National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or George Soros' Open Society represent an unacceptable concentration of unwarranted power and influence in the hands of foreign interests? Yes it does.

It also represents an immense conflict of interest regardless of whether those involved believe impropriety is taking place or not. And the fact that they would allow such a conflict of interest to exist in the first place illustrates at the very least infinitely poor judgement, if not intentional impropriety.  

These are the issues and facts at hand.

It doesn't matter who The New Atlas is or from where it gets its money. Should these foreign-funded organisations and the FCCT find that we've lied and can establish a link between our lies and our funding (we receive no funding whatsoever from anyone), then we must be held accountable as well. Until then, they are the ones who have been exposed, they are the ones who must be held accountable.

For these so-called professional journalists at the FCCT to employ the elementary and unethical ploy of ad hominem (an argument or reaction directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining) exposes even further the moral and professional bankruptcy present among them as well as the absolute betrayal of the principles enshrined within the occupation of journalism.

But then again, it should be remembered, Prachatai, the Cross Cultural Foundation and Thai Netizen accept funding also from NED, an organisation chaired by the very people who lied to the world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a lie that ended the lives of over a million people and has triggered regional violence that has destroyed the lives of millions more. The editors and writers who gravitate around the FCCT, despite all of their impressive credentials and qualifications, helped maliciously sell those lies to an unwitting and trusting public, and continue to do so today regarding wars, conflicts and the improprieties of special interests of every kind around the planet.

With that in mind, should we be surprised by their behaviour now?

Joseph Thomas is the editor of The New Atlas, a is a media platform providing geopolitical analysis and op-eds. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.