Sunday last, the Trinidad Guardian, in a bid to resuscitate its struggling, almost flaccid sales, took the practice of media to a whole new and disgusting low by using cheap politics and bedroom gossip to mount a front page story that had nothing to do with what they claimed the page story was about in the first place.
Emblazoned across the front page of the formerly respected and respectable paper was a broken heart containing pictures of government minister Chandresh Sharma and one of his (if rumours of his village ram ways are to be believed) string of love toys respectively, pretending to be about an alleged assault investigation but pictorially dealing with it from the angle of humiliating the man for his alleged dalliances.
Really Trinidad Guardian? You who have looked down on and snubbed if not 'snobbed' the weeklies for sensational journalism in the past? How funny and ironic it is when you have to resort to that which you swore you held in contempt, and worse, how much further were you prepared to go?
The morning of the damning issue my phone rang quite early and the caller on the other end asked me if I had seen the latest edition of the Trinidad Enquirer and I had to respond I did not know of any such publication, to which my caller replied, “It used to be called the Trinidad Guardian,” and that made the point.
But let's leave that for a moment and look to motive. Did the paper do any investigation at all into the personalities involved before rushing to print? I mean, the young lady in question is available to anyone interested all over social media in varying degrees of nudity and suggestive poses, and while that may well be her right, why uphold her as the victim in a case that clearly takes two to tango? Or is it just about the minister; the opportunity to drag another one low too tempting to resist?
After realizing that this entire storm in a distasteful teacup is nothing more than a matter of a woman scorned seeking revenge on her former suitor, a woman who is alleged to have played this particular hand on other occasions prior, surely readers must be asking what was behind the Guardian's rush to play the role of enabler?
It's not adding up. Was this all cheap politics and a chance to jump on the anti-government train so soon after the Caribbean Airlines 'breast and wing' episode that saw a minister lose his own, er, wings? Because surely editor in chief Judy Raymond knows that this is a country where adultery is sport and infidelity a hobby, where more marriages collapse due to the invasion of the 'fresh young thing' than for any other reason and, if she didn't, then surely her overseer Hamid Ghany should, yes?
But ask the question, how many of the pious paragons of virtue rushing to pour scorn on Minister Sharma for his alleged 'cocksman' ways can themselves stand up under the same scrutiny? Are we to wait on he who is without sin?
I am not sure what I am more upset about: this attempt at open racketeering, this strong-arming for profit by a predator professional, or the misuse of media by those who ought to have known better? Or even the hypocrisy being demonstrated across the board in a land where priest, poet and politicians have been known to frock and defrock when presented with place and opportunity?
Reading the story one would have expected the editor to opt for a guilty looking Sharma about to answer to police or the court as that was the meat of the matter, so why did the editor choose to go this way? With so much more pressing and urgent matters to which we should all attend, I find that I keep returning to that more than anything, this choice in the newsroom that led to all of this.
If you are reading this in newsprint, you are reading it in the T&T Mirror, a publication long overdue for the last laugh on many of these dubious dailies that practice the politics of duplicity, double dealing and deceit, and I look forward to the justifications to be put forward at some point for the zeal with which Judy jumped in between Chandresh and his former lover, in what can only be an act of clear and desperate journalistic prostitution.
Guardian of democracy indeed.
Phillip Edward Alexander