ABC News mistakes The Onion submission for the Lateline show

If you remake ‘Going Clear’ with unreliable sources, partial investigations, and change the Scientology church to Dhammakaya temple, you would get ABC’s Lateline show “Tax scandal rocks Thailand's religious institutions and exposes Thai monks' growing penchant for material wealth,” something that ABC News mistakenly posted on the wrong site. It was probably meant to be submitted to The Onion News.

This article may be treated as a sequel to the last article “ABC News slams Somdej Chuang with bad journalism,” a response to the biased article written by Liam Cochrane.

The Lateline show poses to defame Thai monks for attachments to material goods through the interviews of outspokenly biased individuals, Mr. Mano Laohavanich, and Mr. Sulak Sivaraks. It is unclear if ABC News and Mr Cochrane were aware of the bias of these individuals or not. It must be the result of a mistake in the ABC News’ source checking system, once again.

Wishing for “material wealth” is NOT in itself a sin in Buddhism

The goal of life in Buddhism is to reach Nirvana, or enlightenment, which can take many lifetimes to achieve by the statements in the scriptures. The belief states that in order to reach that goal, one has to cultivate merit. One of the ways to do so is through the practice of generosity.

It is not only common sense, but also appears in scriptures that participating in Dana, or generosity, brings more material wealth to the individual. That material wealth may then be used to commit even more generous acts. That would then lead to more good karma, more merit.

The scripture never mentions anything about the Lord Buddha teaching followers to be poor. Poverty pushes people to commit crimes, not do more good things. Having more material wealth means having an easier time at generosity.

It has been debunked that monks are not allowed to ride in cars. Monks can be passengers in any vehicle

Mr. Sulak, allegedly a Buddhism expert, made a comment against monks using vehicles. His quote, “the Buddha walked all through his life, 45 years of his ministry. He even refused to go on elephants, horses and cow, because that is exploiting animals. Monks are encouraged to walk.”   

If Mr. Sulak had proper knowledge of Buddhism, he would have noticed that parts of the Vinaya Pitaka stated how monks should behave in boats or with caravans. The Lord Buddha may not have allowed riding on animals, but he allowed the use of transportation. Mr Sulak’s argument may be valid if we had real life transformers. Then riding in cars could be seen as exploiting a living being.

In addition, to see the full response on the allegations against Somdej Chuang’s car, please refer to the previous article “ABC News slams Somdej Chuang with bad journalism.”

Mr. Mano has been an outspoken conspiracy theorist against the Dhammakaya temple for decades. If you combine two characters, ‘Anakin Skywalker’ and ‘Lex Luthor,’ you get Mano.

It is quite shocking that Lateline allowed Mr. Mano to play his re-run statements on its show. His statements have been reused over and over for the past couple of decades, devoid of any support to them. He tells many stories, yet there have never been any true sources to them. For ABC News to take his statements as truth is a fallacy. It is propaganda and conspiracy theory. Not any less fantasy than the idea of The Illuminati.

Phra Pasura Dantamano, the foreign correspondent of the Dhammakaya temple, has been biasedly excluded from the show

The composition of the people interviewed in this show was balanced in quantity: 2 opposers, and 2 supporters. However, the quality was unbalanced. Both Mr. Mano and Mr. Sulak are well known for their strong bias against the Dhammakaya temple. They have had years of experience with the media and types of statements that may appeal to the popular interests the most.

The two representatives for Dhammakaya in this show were a ‘faithful follower’ and a newly ordained young international monk.

Regardless if it were true that “ [Phra] Dhammachayo declined a request for an interview.” Phra Pasura Dantamano, the foreign correspondent of the Dhammakaya temple, had been interviewed by the journalist, Mr. Cochrane. However, not a single one of his words were included in the Lateline show.

It may or may not have been an intentional choice for ABC News and Mr. Cochrane to have composed the Lateline show in this unrespectable matter. However, it is not the first time that they have made this blunder of biasedness. If it is indeed an accident born out of ignorance, the news reporting moral of ABC News and the journalist should be fixed.

The truth may be denied, but never avoided.