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Thursday, May 10, 2007


The SET Incident

The basic background
In late February and early March of this year, at the time when people in Taiwan were commemorating the 60th anniversary of the infamous "228 Massacre," SET-TV broadcast a multipart program which used oral history from survivors of the incident, documentary evidence, recreated footage, and narration to tell the tale for those who may not know much about it. Among the footage used was a clip of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) soldiers executing people in public. It turns out that the footage was not filmed in Taiwan, but rather in Shanghai.

Rather revealing is the fact that when this came to light in May, the KMT began shedding crocodile tears. (Is this an inadvertant admission that they did not know this back in February?) As soon as this information was made public, the guilty party (and by that, I mean the KMT) wanted the currently-unconstitutional NCC (National Communications Commission) to shut down SET on account of this. This would be the same NCC that wouldn't shut down the mendacious TVBS after that station had broadcast footage of a gangster, claimed it was sent to them, and were discovered to have shot the footage themselves. Before the revelation that the TVBS footage was faked, it was used by KMT legislators to admonish the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration for its "failure to maintain public security in the wake of a recent spate of crimes."

Can you see the double standard so common in KMT behavior at play once again?

Some simple answers to simple questions
1. Was the footage in question filmed in Taiwan?
Apparently not.

2. Weren't those KMT soldiers that were seen in the footage executing people in the street?

3. Would many Taiwanese have known about the KMT's Shanghai killings if they hadn't attacked SET over the error?
Probably not. (Thanks for that much, KMT.)

4. Did the KMT commit the same kinds of atrocities in Taiwan (and wouldn't that explain why SET used the footage)?

5. Did SET handle the apology appropriately?
Perhaps not.

6. Did those asking for the apology approach it correctly?
Absolutely not.

7. Is the "SET Incident" different from the recent "BS-TV Falsification Fest"?
Yep, it's way different.

8. Did the 228 Massacre happen any differently than SET portrayed it?

9. Any more questions?

* See the Shanghai footage as it was originally used (at about the 1'52" mark in this video), comprising less than 4 seconds of the SET program that I uploaded to YouTube: The 228 Incident - 60 years on, Part 3/3

Here are a couple of things which have happened since I posted this:

* NCC fines SET-TV NT$1 million for misleading public (May 19, 2007, Taipei Times)
[NCC spokesperson Howard] Shyr said the commission's review committee had found the history was portrayed in an inappropriately emotional and dramatic manner, which was a violation of journalistic ethics.
After suppressing discussion of it for decades, of course it's going to look "emotional" and "dramatic" (especially to those allied with the murderous party) when the survivors speak out about the people who tried to murder them. If you have any doubts, read George Kerr's Formosa Betrayed.

* KMT slams regulator's 'double standards' in TV row (May 22, 2007, Taiwan News)
At the Legislative Yuan, KMT caucus members said the NCC had been more lenient with SET TV than with TVBS, stating that the NCC had only fined SET TV NT$1 million and asked that its managers and supervisors attend an eight-hour news ethics course, but had fined TVBS NT$2 million and demanded that General Manager Lee Tao be relieved of his post.

"If NCC applied the same standard to both companies, why can't TVBS managers just attend an eight-hour news ethics course?" asked KMT Legislator Sun Ta-chien (孫大千).
Keep in mind that a TVBS reporter made a video of a gangster and pretended it was mailed in while SET merely used (real) footage of KMT soldiers (just in another location) committing (actual) murders (just like they did in Taiwan). Simple logic should make the difference between these two cases rather obvious.

Victims, real and imaginary: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

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At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry no time to read your posts but are you kidding me? independence for taiwan coming from a foreigner? if you were born and raised in taiwan and actually love the place you would probably wish differently. there is no way taiwan can become independent without bloodshed or mass distruction which taiwanese people who are so used to prosperity will not be able to fully recover from within three, four generations. unlike you whites who loves revolution most taiwanese people just want peace and has no intention to go to war against china, as i'm sure no country does.
so just give me a break. go fight your own battle.

At 1:41 AM, Blogger channing said...

Just another day in Taiwan politics...one channel goofs up, a dozen other channels and political parties fling accusations and in that process goof themselves up, etc. etc. etc.

As for anonymous' independence argument...well, every Taiwanese (and WSR, foreigner, etc. etc.) will have their own interpretation/opinion. Without a referendum, the will of Taiwan's people will not ever be accurately measured. And a referendum won't be coming anytime soon. Wait...didn't CSB promise one? Where'd my cookie go?!

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Jun-Shiong said...

Anonymous, fuck you. I'm Taiwanese and I don't want bloodshed, but I'm proud of our independent country and there's nothing that's "operated" by our independent democratic government here in Taiwan (no matter how bad how stupid) that will be better operated by Beijing. To my understanding, most if not all the posters, white or not, live in Taiwan and Taiwan is there home. Where are you anon? Waisheng xiao liuxuesheng living in Vancouver?

By the way, SET's 228 series was pretty good and the fact that people challenge just that short clip and NONE of the facts is telling. It was surprising that they had footage of Keelung massacre (i.e. there shouldn't be any because... there wasn't really anyone filming in Taiwan then), and it was a mistake to use the footage, but this is completely different from making up footage or even if it really was just mailed in by a gangster, enabling him to broadcast his message for free like that.

Media shouldn't be a voice for terrorists or robbers or killers or other idiots unless they really really have no other choice (i.e. a believing bomb threat). That's where TVBS went wrong.

It's funny that SET's mistakenly used footage only points out more of the Chinese KMT's despicableness.

At 9:02 PM, Anonymous The Foreigner said...

I'm not going to defend SET, because I think what they did was indefensible.

However, a colleague of mine was discussing CNN in another context a couple days ago, and he pointed out that the images CNN shows frequently have very little to do with what the anchorman is saying.

His example was for a hypothetical visit of George Bush to Mexico. In such a case, the network might show file footage of a previous visit, or even old footage of Bush getting onto a helicopter at Camp David.

I walked away from the conversation with a greater appreciation that there's sometimes a fuzzy line between "false" news images and DECEPTIVE images.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Foreigner, unless you mean "TVBS" in your first sentence, what do you mean by "what they did"?

Jun-Shiong, you're right about most of our bloggers living in Taiwan and calling it our home. Some of us are married to Taiwanese, and one of us is raising his kids here. However, "anonymous" sounds more like a resident of the San Francisco area to me. Perhaps s/he's an occasional neighbor of James Soong.

Speaking of James "Loves-to-Kneel" Soong, that reminds me of that quote from the recent movie "300":
- - -
Cruel Leonidas [leader of the Spartans] demanded that you stand. I require only that you kneel.
- - -

Tim Maddog

At 2:24 AM, Blogger channing said...

I would love to disagree and contribute my two cents but I was quite discouraged by the violent response.

I don't agree with all the points made by (anonymous), but I disagree even more with your approach. Most of my US-born TW friends share your viewpoint and tend to be loathsome towards TI non-supporters. However, those that actually grew up in Taiwan generally say that mainstream opinion is in the middle (why this difference exists is another topic).

The views of my friends GENERALLY range from light-blue to light-green corresponding to their geographical origin, but almost none are "deep" blue or green.

As for Taiwan Matters, many of the posters are of foreign origin and have a collectively unique view on the SET incident, as well as TW in general. I'm not sure what your background with TW is, but you seem to side with their opinion. Remember, although TVBS did such a bizarre thing, the only people who protested were green fanatics waving "908 Taiwan Republic" banners. Likewise, most of the critics of SET incident were glaringly blue-leaning.

In the end, people have different ideas on how to run Taiwan, and "certain powers" have different ideas on how to best use it as a pawn. However, the ongoing attitude of discrediting and finger-pointing will only sow discord and make your dear country fall further and harder as its reputation is continuously pounded by its own govt. and media.

The world looks on, still "biased to Beijing" as so often ranted about in this blogring. But can people help it? Sensation/aggression sells, and that's what Taiwan provides most in its current state. And certain people here are simply fuelling it.

At 4:19 AM, Blogger channing said...

Sorry, wrong word. I meant "loathing," not "loathsome."


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