IT'S not surprising that critics who pummeled the police during and after the Aug. 23 botched rescue operations (in which a renegade cop killed eight Hong Kong Chinese tourists) have shifted their attack.

They're now picking on media, which is always the favorite whipping boy when government fumbles. So convenient to blame radio, TV, and newspapers instead of police and crisis managers.

They used to kill the messenger. Now they just publicly bash media, using fault in news coverage to justify failure of government apparatus.

There's a difference this time: Police promptly owned up responsibility but since there was a lot of blame to spread around, named others to flog: the Arroyo government for the problem of equipment and, yes, the media.

A distinction not often cited is that it was broadcast that aired news and images on real time. Print reached its audience only the next day.

Blame can be heaped on radio and TV news crews although when critics cried of "blood in media hands," they railed against the entire industry, not solely broadcast.

Ally in truth-seeking

Print, though not its brother broadcast's keeper, can't leave alone its ally in defending press freedom--and seeking the truth.

And the truth is that police, with rules of engagement with media (adopted after the Peninsula Hotel incident of 2007) had the power and means to curb news coverage during the crisis.

The police didn't bother, apparently not seeing the need. Or they forgot just as stupidly as Swat teams brought teargas but not gas masks for the assault on the bus.

(paseares@yahoo.com/paseares@sunstar.com)