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Editorial: Shooting the messenger is alive and well
Published on September 26, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

Judging by the many social media comments in relation to our article yesterday concerning the revocation of Saint Lucia’s former housing minister Richard Frederick’s US visa in 2011, the “shoot the messenger” syndrome is alive and well in the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, this propensity to attack the messenger rather than address the issues is widely accepted throughout the region as genuine political debate.

To distill the many comments into simple terms (comments edited for spelling and grammar):

1. Why does so much of this article sound like Frederick's lawyer wrote it himself? Is this journalism or public relations?

Any article is necessarily going to seem one-sided when other parties involved fail to take advantage of opportunities extended to confirm, deny or otherwise comment on what is intended to be published.

In this case, the prime minister’s press secretary in Saint Lucia had two days in which to respond to our request for comment. No reply whatsoever was received, not even to ask us to hold off publishing to give them time for a substantive response.

2. I am certainly sure Caribbean News Now will have to apologize again. This is a news network that always has to apologize for misinformation.

Far from “always having to apologize for misinformation”, we have only had to apologise once in recent memory and that was only because we were premature in publication, allowing those involved the opportunity to fulfill their own denial. Indeed, that particular matter is nowhere near over and we will be revisiting it soon on the basis of new evidence.

3. I await the court case against Caribbean News Now.

We have to ask: court case concerning what and by whom? Certainly not for defamation, unless the five Saint Lucian government officials named in the story are claiming they were defamed by our report that they visited the US Embassy in Bridgetown on or about Monday, July 16, 2012. However, as stated, the government of Saint Lucia failed to take the opportunity extended to them to deny that such a visit took place.

4. True or not it does raise important points that some of us have chosen to forget conveniently. Then on the campaign trail, Stanley Felix promised to release information he paid for on a US government website on why exactly the gentleman's visa was revoked. To date, he has been sworn in as a minister, and no information provided as yet.

The then opposition leader, now prime minister, promised to release the information on why the gentleman's visa was revoked. Up to this year, the general secretary of the SLP was calling on the former PM King to reveal why the visa was revoked. Imagine that. Despite the fact that his political leader is now PM. What about those election promises (gimmicks) to release the information. Where is the dirt which was promised on this particular individual? Haven't we waited long enough (or in vain). Who really knows?


The simple answer to these questions is that there is no factual information to release. Anyone that doubts or disputes this is entitled to do their own research under the Freedom of Information laws in the United States. It is a simple matter to prove us wrong – produce the evidence.

5. Let us hope the Americans are not that stupid because they don't just revoke your visa on hearsay... they would collect all the evidence that they can. Who are the bigger idiots? The US to be so easily duped by Kenny [Anthony]... or those who believe this article makes sense?

It is not a matter of stupidity but surely no one would claim, whether in the US or abroad, that the Americans are infallible. Remember, the US government has been duped on a far larger scale before.

In just one well known example, Rafid Ahmad AlwanRafid, known by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) cryptonym "Curveball", was an Iraqi citizen who defected from Iraq in 1999, claiming that he had worked as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programme.

Despite warnings from the German Federal Intelligence Service questioning the authenticity of the claims, the US government utilised them to build a rationale for military action in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq – and we all know how that turned out, the controversy over which continues to this day, ten years later.

Like “Curveball”, a number of individuals connected with the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), one of whom has a known history of lying under oath, deceived the US embassy in Bridgetown into believing that Richard Frederick was involved in criminal activity without a shred of real evidence to back up their allegations.

Again, this is not rocket science… it is a very simple matter to prove us wrong – produce the evidence.

6. To imply that there is a connection between the revocation of assistance to the St Lucia Police Force, and the revocation of Mr Frederick’s visa, and further implying that the US revoked this assistance in an act of petty revenge for allegedly having the wool pulled over their eyes is nothing short of spurious.

Nowhere did we allege or imply that the US acted out of “petty revenge”. What we stated, based upon very good authority, was that in July 2012 the US issued what might be termed an “ultimatum” to certain representatives of the current Saint Lucia government, namely, produce the factual evidence against Richard Frederick by a certain date or else.

In this case, we do not know for sure what the “or else” implicit in any ultimatum was and perhaps it might have been left unsaid at the time. Perhaps the Americans were not explicit or forceful enough in this respect. Nevertheless, a number of intelligent and very well informed people have drawn a direct connection between the failure to comply with the US demands in 2012 and the withdrawal of security assistance in 2013.

Surely, it must be well understood that failure to impose sanctions, whether expressed or implied at the time, in order to enforce a demand of this nature would tend to indicate weakness on the part of the US government, so any hope that no such sanctions would ever be imposed would really be burying one’s head in the sand – and we all know what is thereby prominently exposed for something to come back and bite…

In short, as always, we published in good faith what we believe to be true, without fear or favour. We welcome a constructive and informed debate of the issues involved.
 
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Comments:

Jadia Jn. Pierre:

You were informed via email that I am on leave until September 27, 2013. Yet, you feel comfortable stating that the Press Secretary had two days to reply to your questions? Really? I have a timeline by which to work? Further, given what I have seen, the option that I request that your article be held off until I respond is ridiculous!

Of course, one day you will call it an infringement of your freedom to broadcast...anything you want...whenever you want. There are other people who may be able to dictate when you publish and what you publish, I do not wish to play that role.

Wikipedia:

A press secretary or press officer is a senior advisor who provides advice on how to deal with the news media and, using news management techniques, helps their employer to maintain a positive public image and avoid negative media coverage.

Managing the news refers to acts that are intended to influence the presentation of information within the news media. The expression managing the news is often used in a negative sense. For example, people or organizations that wish to lessen the publicity concerning bad news may choose to release the information late on a Friday, giving journalists less time to pursue the story. Staying "on message" is a technique intended to limit questions and attention to a narrow scope favorable to the subject.

S Lew:

Really? The business of government communication in Saint Lucia closes down while the PM's press secretary is on leave? Not to mention that she is apparently still on leave (Sept 26) but nevertheless finds time to justify her earlier failure to respond!


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