(By Rutashubanyuma Nestory – A public policy analyst based in Arusha.) The biggest public opinion manipulator before elections is the media. Forget the politicians, they are mere amateurs when compared to our kooky media houses. I can understand CCM owned media house doing rounds for the establishment and also government mouthpiece like Daily News and her sorority cheerleading real and fictitious epics of government conquests but I am totally bamboozled by the private owned media houses backstopping the establishment despite crooked covenant! Government owned papers survive on our tax boom but private owned media houses ought to cater for clientele in order to survive. Little surprise, newspapers sales are dovetailing ingratitude of plummeted editorial quality. In Kenya, the Daily Nation easily muster daily sales of 300,000 circulation scooping home more than Tshs 250 millions while our best selling paper Mwananchi can only conjure that figure with envy. In Kenya local columnists rule the airwaves and print media but here either irrelevant internet foreign spoofs or Western beamed TV programs define our media output. But even in Kenya, there is growing concern that despite locally dominated media input - elitism is subsuming hoi polloi. As a mere anecdote, in the East African magazine of June 14th - 20th 2010, a veteran journalist Jenerali Ulimwengu scrawled a piquant spiel titled "I have seen the future, and it's working in Dodoma – thanks to Kikwete's dream!" That kitsch was suffusing with oxymoron and may grudgingly be shrugged off as a satirical encomium. For example how can he reconcile Kikwete is the dreamer of the Dodoma University yet Professor Kikula is the founder of the same institution? Ulimwengu buttonholed his readers over dichotomies of attenuating resources from a litany of weedy public universities in order to sate a leader's dream of erecting the University but a scribe's tacit inferences contextualized the dreamer was still right simply because he is the purser! It is the same media that has dubbed public funds allocated to youth development as "Mabilioni ya JK" spinning a blotted yarn it is JK who has coughed that cash from his own purses. Kikwete adulators may hastily close ranks that he chose to invest there but the reality remains so long as it is our money and we placed him there he is only pursuing our vision not his otherwise he is a skipper of a dictatorship. During the 2005 electioneering, Nyerere legatees now pervade in all over a cranny and nook of our daily life while masquerading as citadels of multiparty democracy goaded the media houses to be pallbearers of journalistic décor. How in God's name we expected alumni of one party rule to be multiparty converts without lingering to "those were the days"? But we now know better. As per CCM's elaborate wishlist, the truth was bludgeoned in order to preserve CCM foothold on power. It is still unclear what media's gains were: could tax exemptions have been part of quid pro quo? CCM governance record was steadfastly swept under the carpet reinforcing an enduring impression the cards were stack to undergird the status quo. This election we are a witness to the same flashback: Media is wooed to observe décor which we know is a euphemism for dumping the truth. As a Fourth Estate, media is expected to advance governance accountability but here that is truly a reverie unlike Ulimwengu's prophetic oddballs since incidences of poor governance will go A.W.O.L. A blackout of news analysis over how BOT sleaze, Richmondgate and related scandals will affect voting patterns is not a chimera. Spoils of the First Family girding a dynasty will blitz our news outlets portraying a message of inevitability and invincibility of CCM grand march to yet another electoral Tsunami. But as media clamour to consort with the establishment editorial quality and faith on media as vanguard of transparency will take a backseat. Fewer will throng newsstands for a copy of their favourite paper and most TV viewers will switch to foreign TV channels repelling from being imbibed with editorial humdrum. Private media has a stark choice of guarding the truth or advancing narcissistic ambitions imperiling journalistic candour.