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Holy Moses! Hilarious tale of fact-checking, holding feet of elites to fire


By Lucy Mwangi

In a world filled with soundbites, sensationalism, and claims that often come faster than a bullet, the role of the media as the guardian of truth has never been more vital. It’s a role that often takes centre stage when public officials make bold claims, and there’s no better example of this than the recent culinary showdown involving Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria and Citizen TV.

Picture this: A live television debate, a Cabinet Secretary, and egg on the face. In a recent episode of ‘The Big Conversation,’ the stage was set for an epic showdown. Topic? The price of cooking oil. Contest? Citizen TV’s facts versus Moses Kuria’s fiction.

The tussle began when Citizen TV news anchor Sam Gituku presented estimated cost of cooking oil as of September 13, 2023 – a modest Sh340 per litre. Kuria, however, couldn’t let that slide. He boldly challenged the figure, claiming that the price was significantly lower, and his government’s measures deserved the credit.

“You’ve said correctly that the price has come down, but it’s not even to the level you have said. It is by 50 per cent since we came to government,” the minister exclaimed confidently. But, as they say, facts are stubborn things, and Citizen TV was not about to let them go unnoticed. They decided to embark on a journey that would have viewers clutching their sides with laughter and marvelling at the media’s commitment to holding public officials accountable.

Less than 20 minutes later, John Wanyama, Citizen TV’s reporter stationed in Eldoret, did what journalists do best – he got out there and dug up the truth. Armed with a camera and an undying determination to get to the bottom of this oily mystery, Wanyama went live from a Naivas supermarket in the North Rift town. What unfolded was nothing short of comical.

Wanyama showed the prices of various cooking oil brands, revealing a reality that Kuria probably wished he could butter his words with. One brand was indeed selling at Sh355, another at Sh347, while the more budget-friendly options ranged from Sh307 to Sh325. The facts spoke for themselves. The numbers didn’t lie.

Not only did these prices not align with Kuria’s claim of a “much lower” cost, but they were even higher than Citizen TV‘s original estimate of Sh340. In a twist of irony, the Cabinet Secretary found himself in a real-life version of a game show, with each price tag revealing another piece of the puzzle that dismantled his argument.

Back in the studio, with the undeniable evidence from the supermarket Citizen TV confronted Kuria with these facts. His response? Kuria, seemingly unfazed, suggested that the Citizen TV crew should now venture off to Ruiru to continue their price checking. “We are here for two hours, what’s the hurry for?” he quipped, as though the relentless pursuit of truth were merely a pastime. The curtain had fallen on this chapter of the culinary drama, leaving viewers in stitches.

However, it also, hopefully, left them with a lesson on the role of media in fact-checking and holding public officials accountable. Citizen TV, by going live from the supermarket and presenting the raw facts, exemplified the media’s commitment to accuracy and truth.

This amusing yet enlightening episode highlights the vital role the media plays in a democracy. It’s a role that extends beyond reporting the news; it’s about being the watchdog of society, the fact-checkers, and the defenders of truth. When public officials make claims, it’s the media’s duty to ensure that these claims stand up to scrutiny, regardless of the comic value that might ensue.

In a world where information can spread like wildfire, fact-checking is the fire extinguisher. It helps extinguish the flames of misinformation and keeps the public informed. The media’s commitment to this duty enhances the credibility of journalism.

So, next time you hear a claim that sounds too good (or too ridiculous) to be true, remember the courageous reporters at Citizen TV, armed with price tags and cameras, on a mission to serve the public a hearty dish of truth. After all, when it comes to cooking oil prices or any other matter, facts are universal, and the media’s commitment to them must be unwavering.

Writer is research officer at MCK


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