Nation's Mutuma Mathiu debunks accusations of partisanship ahead of elections

Politicians finger media as Kenya gears toward General Election

Nation Media Group's headquarters in Nairobi and the Citizen TV logo

Two of Kenya's mainstream media organizations have been castigated as the nation prepares to hold it's General Election in August.

Coming from political circles, Citizen TV and publications under the Nation Media Group were the latest to face criticism even as Senator Mithika Linturi was arrested for inflammatory statements made during a political rally.

The Sunday Nation, which is popular for its weekly opinion columns, was said to have "editorial bias" in a remark posted by Nairobi-based lawyer and political commentator Ahmednasir Abdullahi, alias Grand Mullah.

Mr Abdullahi mentioned the media company's Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu, faulting him for the alleged encouragement of bias against one of the top contenders for president - Dr William Ruto.

"The Sunday Nation no longer pretends to be objective in the 2022 race. Its editorial against DP Ruto is worn as badge of honor in the newsroom. See the empirical evidence. In Today's [January 9] paper every piece about Ruto is negative!" the lawyer chided.

Ahmednasir is a vocal supported of the Jubilee party and President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime.

In a later post, Grand Mullah made similar remarks against Royal Media Services-owned Citizen TV.

"Considering the political bias and prejudice of certain 'mainstream' media especially @citizentvkenya, @ntvkenya and the Sunday Nation... @rtnsomaalitv should seriously consider having English/Swahili news... What do you think?" before he went on to tag other accounts on the tweet.

Reiterating Mr Abdullahi's assertion, Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen supported the accusation against NMG.

"Mutuma Mathiu’s single most assignment is to fight Ruto through the Nation," Murkomen stated.

US-based academic Professor Makau Mutua, however, disagreed with both Ahmednasir and Murkomen, terming their statements as 'cheap propaganda'.

"GM, you are trying to hard. The Grand Mullah himself shouldn’t tweet unless he’s issuing a fatwa. Leave this cheap propaganda to those who are paid 600 bob to malign others. You are too valuable a national resource to be reduced to such a pitiable status," he posted.

The NMG Editorial Director also offered a response to Mr Abdullahi pointing out that the headline carried by the day's paper had reported a challenge being experienced by both the DP Ruto wing and that of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

"This is what happens when you have a cock in the fight. Anxiety. The other side is experiencing pretty much the same thing. Only invite sane, sober and civilized people to your rallies. Please be careful, it doesn’t take much to cause bloodshed," stated Mutuma.

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