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Claims of Bias and the PNM experience
One of the worst accusations that can be made against a reporter is that of bias against an individual or organisation. In other words, a biased writer uses his pen unfairly against those who do not share his views, mainly of a political nature.
Over the years I have been accused of being just that, almost exclusively by functionaries of the now opposition People’s National Movement and their surrogates in the weekly media, with one of them taking a particular perverse delight in pursuing this fallacy.
Quite frankly, I do not care two doubles or a bake and shark about that often-repeated charge, and I have repeatedly asked my misguided accusers to prove their charge, which none of them has yet done. Unless, of course, there is a natural and stated support by writers, especially columnists, for one party or the other.
I have never done so, even though, as one who has always been keenly interested in politics, I have my preference, which is perfectly in order, unless, of course, when that preference is dishonestly demonstrated in my articles. The attacks on my perceived journalistic imbalance eased up when I left the Guardian in 1993 and joined the Newsday, and if one is knowledgeable about the ownership of that paper, one can understand why the attacks ceased.
However, within recent times I have observed the charge has resumed in that weekly r.., sorry, newspaper, the last one stating that I am a PP spin doctor, and that I have interviewed several government ministers consecutively in my Sunday Guardian Face to Face column.
The article implied that I am deliberately not interviewing PNM MPs. I planned to ignore that nonsensical garbage, as I usually do, but I feel it is imperative that I put certain facts on the table at this time so that the impartial reader can decide if I am not being true to my professional calling in terms of being fair, balanced and honest in the representation of the facts in any given situation.
To the accusation charge that I am not interviewing PNM functionaries please pay attention to the following; I am fed up of asking PNM and Opposition Leader Keith Rowley for an interview all to no avail, the last time being at an all-inclusive Carnival fete this year.
More recently, on a Monday morning during the height of the Maha Sabha/principal controversy, MP Patricia McIntosh, whom I called on the phone, readily agreed to being interviewed, which was set for the following day. She eagerly gave me directions to her Cascade home and whatnot.
Lo and behold, that same afternoon she called and cancelled the engagement, claiming she had forgotten she had a meeting in San Fernando the same day and time as the promised interview. Some time after that, I called Dr Amery Browne very early one morning, and he apologised for not being able to accede to my request, as he was leaving for a meeting in Jamaica, at that same time, and faithfully promised to call me on his return for the interview.
I called him again on his return and he said we could not talk because he was catching up on events which occurred while he was in Jamaica. However, I observed the very next day he was quoted in a newspaper commenting on a topical matter at that time.
Another day I telephoned the constituency office of MP Donna Cox, to make a similar request. Her secretary, who I thought could be a detective, asked me all sorts of questions and in the end promised to have her call me. What has happened?
Yes, you guessed correctly.
Two weeks ago I bumped into MP and former junior minister in the Ministry of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, outside the Guardian, on Queen Street, where I requested an interview. He gave me his telephone number and promised it the following day around 4 pm, because he had a court matter scheduled to start 1 pm that day.
I dutifully called him around 4 pm. No answer. Up to today I have not received any reason from the goodly attorney why he was unable to keep our date. That, my dear reader, is a brief history of my experience in trying to get PNM MPs to chat with me.
• To be continued next week, in which we shall also look at representation PNM-style in east PoS.
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