Thailand: No violent protests today, either

I hadn’t meant to make a crusade out of this when I pointed out the ridiculous claim by The New York Times a little over two weeks ago of violent protests in Thailand over food prices. There were no protests at all, and there was no violence at all, and there were certainly no violent protests over food prices.

Four days later, The New York Times almost unbelievably did it again, further embellishing the non-existent violent food protests in Thailand with an indefensible claim that somehow biotech and genetic manipulation was driving the protests. Again, this was completely made up.Un-volatile crowd doesn't mention food prices. AP photo reprinted in Thai newspapers.

And now we have the French news agency Agence France Presse aka AFP doing the same old stuff. In a report from Paris, which is quite far from Thailand, AFP reports about all those volatile protests in Thailand over food prices. Or, to put it another way, AFP reaches into the Paris smog and pulls out a fictitious account of what is occurring in Thailand.

Workers across Asia, where one billion people are now seriously affected by the food price surge, made food their May Day battle cry, with volatile crowds staging rallies in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Bangkok.

No they didn’t. For the third time that I have personally come across, the media just made it up. This is now getting ridiculous.

First, there were no volatile crowds in Bangkok, period — not a single volatility. Several thousand people turned out for the annual May Day meeting in Bangkok, but they were orderly to the point of being boring.

More to the point: All they were interested in was getting a raise in the minimum daily wage. Where by “all” I mean “absolutely all,” where “absolutely” is an absolute word. Now, I’m sure that some of them cited the rising food prices in their demand, but they also cited the cost of baby clothes, health care and bus fares. They need more money (they claim) because of inflation.

Exercise: See if you can find any reference to food in these stories about the boring Bangkok May Day workers’ meetings from the Bangkok Post or in the other major English newspaper The Nation or in this main coverage by Thai News Agency.

Okay, wait, I’ve got it, find the reference to volatile crowds making food the focal part of their Bangkok protest in this story. It is from the AFP news agency in Bangkok and it starts out:

Thousands of workers waving flags and banners gathered in the Thai capital on Labour Day to call on the government to raise the minimum wage and improve their welfare.

Just like The New York Times, AFP reporters in far-off places would do well to consult their colleagues in the places they write about, and save themselves total embarrassment.

P.S.: 16 days since the original New York Times error, still waiting for the correction. Tick-tick-tick.

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