“We cannot run a country on misinformation and nastiness”

Photo taken from: writinglives.org

During the two most recent sittings of Parliament, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, once again, demonstrated his caring love of OBSERVER as his number one source of news. It, therefore, took us by surprise that he was so confused as to our mission and what has been published and/or broadcast by OBSERVER media.

There is a lot that the PM got wrong in his addresses to the Parliament and to the public but there is one thing that the PM said that we agree on, “We cannot run a country on misinformation and nastiness.”

It has become obvious that the current government is no fan of OBSERVER and does not like to be questioned. The most recent attacks on this media entity, to include the APUA lawsuit, are evidence that the goal is to silence OBSERVER and ensure that our media light is extinguished. That, however, will not stop us in challenging the misinformation and nastiness that emanate from the government and the opposition. Our responsibility is to the people. We aspire to hold no political office but we do aspire to hold those that are in political office accountable for their management of the country.

The PM holds no monopoly on patriotism and cannot claim that he is the most patriotic of all Antiguans and Barbudans. When our bit of paradise is under attack, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone willing to join the battle to defend our great nation.

So in an effort to help the prime minister to see the light and correct him of all the misinformation, we are going to take the time to address some of his comments through this medium because we, unfortunately, do not have the privilege to address them in the Parliament.  So let’s get going.

The PM has branded us a “threat to Antigua” and said, “The OBSERVER has an agenda to tear down our government.” Those statements are completely unfounded, but we understand the game and the Donald Trump-like nasty, negative characterisation of our media house is meant to damage our reputation for no reason but to advance political agendas. The PM’s allegation that we have an agenda against his administration is absolutely false and proven by the fact that he offered no specific evidence.

The prime minister’s sometimes rambling addresses were full of contradictions as he attempted to besmirch the good name of OBSERVER. He said that “we have absolutely no objections to individuals holding this government responsible”, but he somehow objects to the fact that we are doing just that. He unsuccessfully attempts to create a link between the OBSERVER and the opposition to rile up the ABLP base against us, saying that we “try to spin information to create allegations of wrong doing, allegations of corruption”. Once again, he brings no evidence, he just makes wild allegations, similar to Donald Trump, with nothing to back up what is said.

The PM even admits that the political spin is something that the ABLP was guilty of in the past, and points out that all political parties are guilty of spin, but he then tries to lay the responsibility for the spin in our laps. Just because the media reports on the spin does not make them guilty of the spin.

Prime Minster Browne said: “All of us as Antiguans and Barbudans have a responsibility to protect this country’s image and not to peddle false information that can be used against us”, and he is absolutely correct. That is what we practice on a daily basis and we challenge the PM to prove otherwise. To use his words, “if there are any weaknesses in anything that we do … you bring us the facts and we will correct it immediately … anyone, who can bring any information to confirm any wrongdoing, in anything that we are doing, we will respond.”

We do not, as the PM alleges, spread “spurious allegations about this country.” A look at our record will show that we have provided harsh criticism of the United States government and their media. We have characterised the US government as “hypocritical” and a “bully” and pointed out that the recent 60 Minutes piece on our Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) was not much more than a transparent hatchet job. In fact, we gave the PM credit for braving the harsh lights and commended him on his job defending the programme when others shied away.

It is obvious that the prime minister misunderstand the role of media. For example, he states that we “lionised” Damani Tabor by making him, “some so-called man of the year for peddling misinformation”.  It is obvious that the PM does not understand what the title represents. Time Magazine has featured the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin (twice), Ayatollah Khomeini, Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, the computer and the whistleblower; not to lionise anyone or anything but rather to simply acknowledge the most newsworthy throughout that particular year. One should read nothing more into it than what it is. There is no hidden meaning or agenda.

Again, to use the prime minister’s words, “anybody can make allegations”, the accompanying evidence, however, is what separates serious matters from “spurious allegations”. In the case of the prime minister’s attack on OBSERVER media, the allegations were devoid of any evidence or facts to back up what was said. Stay tuned for more …

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