While the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst has been removed from a weekly prime-time Observer Radio slot, he has not been “banned” from the station’s airwaves.
That’s the word from Observer boss Algernon ‘Serpent’ Watts who told yesterday’s ‘Connecting with Dave Lester Payne’ show that the ABLP stalwart was “free to call in and contribute like everyone else”.
Controversy erupted over the weekend after Watts told his Saturday afternoon radio show that he was fed up with Hurst’s “lies” during the Chief of Staff’s long-standing Monday morning interview on the Observer AM show.
“I’ve had enough of him, he nah come back here,” said Watts, who is running for the opposition UPP party as a candidate in the next general election.
His comment was promptly picked up by another local media house which ran the audio clip under the headline ‘Max Hurst banned from Observer Radio’.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne was quick to retort that Hurst was the ruling ABLP party’s designated spokesman, and that it was not for Observer to decide who was “carrying the Labour Party message”.
“Max is the Chief of Staff, he sits in the Cabinet, he’s au fait with our issues. If they ban Max, they are banning the Labour Party,” Browne said.
The furore also prompted a number of ABLP ministers to declare their intention to shun all of Observer’s platforms and its reporters in protest.
However, Watts said on Monday that his comments had been taken out of context.
“Max is free to call in and contribute like everyone else. He had a prime-time slot on Observer where he comes and spreads his manure. And I just said ‘enough of that’,” Watts, the company’s managing director and ‘Snakepit’ show host, said.
“It wasn’t even a solo decision,” Watts continued, adding that if Cabinet ministers wanted to boycott Observer it would be to “their detriment, not ours”.
“We have without question the largest listenership,” he said.
“Observer will survive. Observer has survived your constant daily attacks, your sabotage. We survive everything you throw at us.
“And we will survive by the grace of God and the good people out there who are willing to stand and fight with us,” Watts pledged.
He added that, despite his bid for the St George constituency, he had “never intervened” editorially with Observer’s news team or its show hosts.