The Nation lied: “the letter” was an unsigned draft only seen by a few
Long time readers at BFP know the contempt with which we hold The Nation, and indeed the entire Bajan oldstream news media. The Nation has always been the lapdog for the Barbados Labour Party (for the last 20 years anyway) while the Barbados Advocate crawls on its belly for the Democratic Labour Party. The public broadcaster CBC, of course, sways like a cane in the wind according to the master of the day.
No matter their political leanings though, all of the news media generally protect the political and business elites when and where possible. Some of this protection is because individual journalists are frightened of government retaliation. Fair enough. The former editor of the Barbados Advocate, Reudon Eversley, explained this fear when he said that Owen Arthur and his lot attacked and bullied the press into submission. See Evil as Hell.
But it was the Barbados Advocate that fired columnist Adrian Loveridge at the behest of the then Minister of Tourism – so the Barbados Advocate cannot claim the high ground without acknowledging that they traded their integrity for government advertising revenues.
Then there is the matter of the non-reporting and covering-up of news stories that would be front page if they happened in the UK or the USA. If a Cabinet Minister was shown to be living on land that his government expropriated from a private owner, that would be NEWS in the United Kingdom. If the Health Minister was involved in the online porn industry and made money from websites featuring pregnant teenage mothers or women having sex with horses, do you think the Canadian or US news media would ignore the story? They sure would! But not the Barbados news media.
If the management of a hundred million dollar government contract was shown to be involved in bribes in another country, that would be news, right? Not in Barbados – at least not until the blogs reported the story for almost two weeks and forced the news media to mention it.
So when The Nation falsely reported that eleven members of the DLP Government affixed their signatures to a letter to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, and published bits and pieces out of context to give their readers the impression that the letter was something it was not – that was a calculated move to further a political agenda.
To whom the benefit?
That’s easy: the beneficiary of the fuss was the lapdog Nation’s master, The Barbados Labour Party and Owen S. Arthur.
Here’s what DLP Member of Parliament Ronald Jones has to say about The Nation…
THE Nation Publishing Co., in its edition of the Sunday Sun on December 11, 2011, published an article which purportedly carried contents of a letter written to the Prime Minister.
The Friday, December 16 edition of Barbados Today, an online newspaper, carried a letter which it states is a letter similar to that of the Sunday Sun’s version. Readers should bear in mind that the Sunday Sun embedded the contents of said letter in their story and wrapped it in parenthesis. So, in fact, the Sunday Sun has already published the contents of the said letter.
The only difference was the Nation warping its interpretation of the contents of the letter. They alluded to the MPs’ intention: “Their main reason for doing so was to discuss matters of grave concern” pertaining to his leadership and “to chart a path forward for the retention of our party in Government”.
The Nation emphatically stated this in the context of its story of Tuesday last. This differs somewhat from their initial quotation when the article stated that the MPs wanted the meeting, “with respect to perceived weaknesses in our leadership of the country”. This is a variation to that quoted above.
It is the Sunday Sun story of Sunday, December 11 that is of particular interest. The Nation reported that 11 MPs affixed their signatures to a letter and immediately dispatched it to the Prime Minister. The article states “ELEVEN GOVERNMENT MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) – including seven senior Cabinet ministers – yesterday affixed their signatures to a formal letter and immediately dispatched it to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart requesting an ‘urgent’ audience.” That means that the Sunday Sun had to be aware that such was already done at least some time on Saturday, December 10 so that they would have included their article in the Sunday Sun with such authority.
The Nation subsequently published the faces of 11 MPs in its Tuesday edition, whom they asserted were the persons who affixed their signatures to this letter and dispatched it to the Prime Minister. The article states, “THEY ARE THE 11 dissatisfied Members of Parliament (MPs) who have been seeking an ‘urgent audience’ with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
“They comprise eight ministers in the 19-member Cabinet and three backbenchers.
“Their main reason for doing so was to discuss matters of ‘grave concern’ pertaining to his leadership and ‘to chart a path forward for the retention of our party in Government’.”
This was a bold assertion. The Nation was emphatically stating that there were no other MPs who were implicated in signing such a letter. The Nation, by so doing, created an atmosphere in which 11 persons were exposed to intense public scrutiny and ridicule. The Nation Newspaper had no intention of stepping back from their position.
“Since the publication of the contents of a letter to this intent in the SUNDAY SUN, some of them have publicly denied any knowledge of the letter or any issues with Stuart, for that matter.”
In defence of their character and integrity, some persons immediately responded that they did not place their signatures on any letter and therefore the Nation should cease and desist from making such a statement.
The Nation, through its Editor-in-Chief, intimated that it would stick by its word – that is, that 11 MPs affixed their signatures to a letter which was dispatched to the PM.
The Nation further kept the charge going by asserting that it would keep publishing the faces of the persons in its daily publication until the 18th, when they would publish the letter. (One would believe that the letter would have 11 signatures affixed to it and not the mere mention of eleven names) If this is not done, then the Nation newspaper would have made a false accusation against the MPs – especially those who said they had not so done.
The Paper, as part of its continuing engagement of the reading public indicated in its article of Tuesday that they were sticking to their story, they wrote “However, the DAILY NATION is sticking to its story. The newspaper has further been informed that Stuart held private talks with individual members of the complaining group before leaving the island yesterday for New York.
Well-placed sources said while the leadership issue was not yet settled, it was likely that “common sense” would prevail and that the dialogue would continue internally.
Yesterday, one source close to Stuart further indicated that some of the 11, who came under intense public scrutiny following the publication of concerns, were now suffering from “cold feet” and had indicated to Stuart that they were not prepared to press him any further on a meeting to discuss his leadership style.
I am careful to note that the Nation continued to refer to his leadership style and that was not identified in either their quote from the letter of Sunday 11th or the Barbados Today story of Friday last.
Readers should not miss the point. The Nation made a claim. That Claim was in the Sunday Sun of December 11. We therefore await the publication of the Letter with the affixed signatures. A mere presentation of a letter, which they have already published, cannot do. They have already done that in their Sunday Sun of 11th December by inserting the paragraphs in parenthesis. These paragraphs are identical to the letter published in Barbados Today. Can we assume that the letter came from the same source?
I am also keen to note that The Nation Newspaper started to introduce a daily subtle shift in its statements by suggesting that the persons authorised their names to be attached to the letter. There is no more mention of signatures being affixed to the letter. That has disappeared. The Nation Newspaper is now proclaiming “The DAILY NATION will continue to publish all denials while holding on to the letter written on behalf of eight ministers and three backbenchers. Here, we reprint the photographs of the Eager Eleven as we will do every day until Sunday.”
On behalf of’ is the language used previously in the article of December 11. The Nation Newspaper has to deliver this earth shattering letter with the affixed signatures or they would have taken the standards of journalism to an all-time low.
– RONALD JONES, Parliamentary Representative, Christ Church East Central.