It was another one of those awkward moments where truth collides with ignorance or outright deception. There it was in this week’s CABINET notes, Wednesday 28th September, 2022, a cheap, rubbish-worthy swipe at our beloved, DAILY OBSERVER. Said item number seven in the Cabinet notes: “The Cabinet gave priority to completing a number of improvements at the Clarevue Mental Hospital in order to make patients and staff far more comfortable. A certain newspaper in Antigua has chosen to report on its front page the shortcomings at Clarevue, completely disregarding other news that are of national importance.” Say what? Seems, the author of that bit in the Cabinet notes is out to sea. Hopelessly!
For one thing, while we placed the Clarevue story in question on the front page of the DAILY OBSERVER of Friday, September 23, 2022, it was along with several other stories (see photo). In keeping with our high standards of good taste and propriety, we did not place any photo of the disgraceful pit latrines at Clarevue on the front page. That suggestion by some in high places is a barefaced lie. In fact, the photo on the front page of our newspaper in question is that of the beautiful Clarevue signage with the stately trees and the nicely-painted Clarevue front wall in the background.
Having said that, it is entirely our prerogative what we place on the front page of this newspaper. Those in high places CANNOT and NEVER WILL be able to dictate to us what we place on the front page. If, in our good and considered judgment, we decide to place an article on the front page, and those in high places are peeved, we could not care less. We are not in this business to cater to, or kow-tow, to that which pleases the incumbency. We will not be a propaganda mouthpiece for this administration. There are enough servile media entities in our fair State that do that sort of kissing-up. Not NEWSCO! Instead, we will continue to remain faithful to the vision of our Founding Father, the immortal Winston Derrick, “To shine a light in the dark corners” (exposing this administration’s malfeasance and fecklessness), to give “a voice to the voiceless” (the longsuffering workers and patients at Clarevue), to report the news, “without fear, favour or ill-will” (reporting that they heartlessly installed pit latrines at Clarevue). We will continue to be the tribune media entity, “without worrying who feel one way or another.” And that includes he of a high place reporting on Cabinet’s deliberations. That includes all those in high places!
But let us go back to the obtuse suggestion by he in a high place that we completely disregarded news that are of national importance. Sigh! On the very same front page that the spokesperson is referring to are the following extremely important headlines: MINIMUM WAGE CHANGE STILL IN LIMBO, CCTV CAMERAS IN SCHOOLS WON’T BE AVAILABLE UNTIL SECOND TERM, BOLANS CLINIC SET FOR COMPLETION BY EARLY OCTOBER. It is entirely up to the reader what weight he or she will give to any of those pressing stories. They are all of national significance, and they were not ignored or underreported in any way. We report, the people decide! We subscribe to President Kennedy’s observation that, “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market, is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
Meanwhile, it is critical that we return to an important word in the spokesperson’s Cabinet notes remarks on the Clarevue matter. Said he: “The Cabinet gave priority to completing a number of improvements at the Clarevue Mental Hospital in order to make patients and staff FAR more comfortable.” Hmmmm! Inadvertently, by his use of the word, ‘FAR’, the spokesperson as much as admitted that what obtains now at Clarevue is way, way, way short of ‘comfortable.’ Mr Spokesperson, your Freudian slip is showing!
So what were some of the “number of improvements” needed at Clarevue Hospital? The list is legion. The extremely poor lighting on the premises. The frequent power outages. The horrid restroom conditions. The broken perimeter fence. The lack of proper washing machines. The dreadful kitchen conditions. The vast sums of monies owed to the longsuffering workers. Clarevue is a Stygian nightmare, from which we hope there will be some relief, sooner rather than later. A society is judged on the way in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens, and by that metric, we have flunked miserably.
Look, folks, the Clarevue workers have been bawlin’ for years; they recently took industrial action for almost a whole month; they even walked the picket line from the hospital to the Ministry of Health’s headquarters. They were desperate. They have been ignored by those in high places in this administration, and the recent flurry of activity to install metal toilets, and the self-righteous chatter in Cabinet is only because the election draweth nigh. We are not fooled by their feigned concern and their new-found religion.
While we are justifiably outraged at the Cabinet spokesperson’s trifling swipe at THE DAILY OBSERVER, we will not be deterred in our remit. Our founder was persuaded that the press had to remain free, unshackled from the machinations of a bullying government. In fact, the theme on the masthead of our newspaper was, for many years, the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Where the press is free, and every man is able to read, all are safe.” Consider also, if you will, these words from Hugo Black: “The government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”
As per the motto on the masthead of our newspaper, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” Those in high places can go suck a lemon.
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