This is what is called astroturfing by the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times. The Straits Times in its editorial today was nauseatingly sycophantic in calling on the government to "turf out of consideration astroturfed views when determining policies".
But does the Straits Times genuinely believe that its propagandist organ is above astroturfing? The editorial described astroturfing as a manufactured product masquerading as the real thing: fake mail, phone call or digital campaigns orchestrated to appear like spontaneous "grassroots" responses. Is not the Straits Times answering to this description in its pro-government propaganda to the exclusion of constructive opposition and concerned critics' voices?
The Straits Times seems to be aping the Prime Minister in disparaging online criticisms of the government as fakes orchestrated to appear like spontaneous grassroots responses. Is not the echoing of his master's voice cringingly a form a astroturfing? Right-thinking Singaporeans have seen through the obsequiousness of the Straits Times. There are regular readers of the Straits Times who are digusted with its spineless character and give up reading the trash in the paper going instead to the internet for their local and international news.
It is precisely because of the dearth of genuine news about the political and financial mismanagements of the government which the mainstream media are covering up that there is a healthy growth of the new media to counter this journalistic abberation of the mainstream media. For example it was the new media which provided the news of the recent heavy financial loss of over US $1 billion by the Government Investment Corporation (GIC). True to their obsequious character, there was not a word in the mainstream media about this GIC financial disaster to the public. Although the public were apprised by the new media, there was very little they could do with no accountability by the "democratic" government. Would the Straits Times describe the dramatic disclosure by the new media of the financial loss of GIC as astroturfing?
Hovering over the mainstream media like a sword of Damocles is a body called the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). It is hardly a benevolent organ but a tightly-organised body that supervises closely any piece of pro-government propaganda that goes out from the mainstream media. Woe betides any exuberant journalist who does not toe the line. The next thing he knows is that he will find his rice-bowl dancing (a Chinese slang for dismissal). To ensure absolute obedience to its draconian policy, the government has installed a former deputy prime minister, who is also the government spin doctor, at the head of SPH. So how can one expect anything but astroturfing from the mainstream media, especially the bombastic Straits Times.