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Stop profiling media houses, Kenyans say after campaign against select outlets

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 14 – Saturday night’s action by Deputy President William Ruto to unsubscribe from Capital FM’s Breaking News channel 411 and the subsequent campaign by some of the leaders allied to him against specific media houses has sparked mixed reactions in the country.

It all started when Ruto tweeted a message after unsubscribing from the channel, on the day it reported that he was heckled in Isiolo.

The tweet was followed shortly after by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi who rallied the hustler nation supporters to boycott the channel, accusing the station of bias. The station denies the allegations.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech too tweeted a message he received after unsubscribing from Nation Media Group’s Breaking News Channel.

But the worst attack came from Aaron Cheruiyot, the Kericho Senator, who retweeted Ruto’s message with a warning to Citizen TV that broadcast the heckling in Isiolo.

The action followed reporting on Ruto’s Isiolo visit, where he was heckled in one of the areas he visited, a story carried by all the stations above.

Following the tweets by the leaders, Kenyans posted mixed reactions, with others recalling the boycot campaign started by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on select products when he lost the elections to President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017.

As people posted messages showing they had unsubscribed, others posted messages showing they had subscribed to the premium service.

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The Media Council of Kenya has condemned the action, and was set to issue a formal statement.

The action was also condemned by Mount Kenya Youth Caucus which called for tolerance in the country on media coverage.

“Last night, Deputy President William Ruto embarked on a sustained attack on one of the media houses, urging his supporters to unsubscribe from their news alert services – the crime being that the said media house reported of an incident that happened in Isiolo where he was booed,” the group said in a statement, terming it a “Trump playbook.”

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