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Opposition leader targets Guardian

Monday, March 24, 2014

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has now gone after the Guardian and Guardian Media Ltd’s deputy managing director and managing editor Dr Hamid Ghany for the editorial in Saturday’s paper. Rowley did so at a PNM meeting in Rio Claro East Secondary School on Saturday. At a meeting earlier in the week, Rowley criticised Express columnist Lennox Grant. At Rio Claro, Rowley singled out an Express editorial about PNM’s Fitzgerald Hinds, who is on his slate contesting the post of youth officer in the PNM’s internal elections.


He said in a column, the writer’s views would be expressed in a particular way. But the editorial of the newspaper is a different thing, Rowley said: “This reflects measured policy of the owners of the newspaper.” So, he added, “When I see, in the editorial, columnist’s language and jargon describing one of our more effective politicians as a motormouth and then advising me as the leader of the PNM to stay away from him, I thought, that is not editorial matter, that is a matter for the column, and I took issue with it.


“And I will say, the same way the newspaper can criticise me, I can take issue when I feel they falling short.” Rowley said when he saw “this columnist” and suspected he knew who it was, he had to point out to PNMites where it was coming from, which was from a different political persuasion. He’d also said the writer had fought the PNM and lost his deposit. He added, “I didn’t call anybody name. He knows that I know who he was, so he comes up and calls his own name.”


Rowley said the writer had criticised Rowley for saying he had fought and lost his deposit and had said he had never fought any election, but had been the general secretary of Tapia. Rowley said that was worse than he thought, since if the person had fought and lost, it was only one seat. “But you were the general secretary of a whole stable,” he went on. “You lost all the seats and lost all the deposits except one.


“General secretary, how much deposits you lose, sir? Except for Lloyd Best, everybody else loss their deposit and guess what...So this banter goes on between me and Mr Grant and I’m sure he has a sense of humour and he’ll take it for what it is. “Lo and behold, the Express didn’t write an editorial criticising me for engaging Mr Grant. Guess who wrote an editorial? The Guardian. The Guardian, which is led by Hamid Ghany, writes an editorial in defence of Lennox Grant in the Express and accuses me of attacking the media.


“I didn’t know Lennox Grant was the media. I know Lennox Grant was a big Tapia man and fought against the PNM as general secretary. I’m corrected and they lost all but one of their deposits. I was simply stating a fact.” Rowley went on, “And Lennox Grant didn’t write an editorial to defend himself, nor did the Express. But the Guardian is so poised under Hamid Ghany that there’s a big article in today’s Guardian defending the media from me.


“Since when does the Express have to depend on the Guardian for its defence? But I want to remind Hamid Ghany and the Guardian, it is their newspaper, where their staff walked out of there because they had given instructions they were too pro-PNM, and pro-PNM...meant there were too many negative articles on the government and the staff walked out when they were directed what to do and what not to do.”


Rowley said a free press “would have to print nothing but negatives, because all of the government actions were negative.” He criticised the Guardian for its “temerity to come and take editorial on me defending Lennox Grant.” He said the PNM would accept Grant taking a political perspective in his column. “But when he writes an editorial and the editorial describes our MP or our officer as ‘motormouth’— we not taking that.”


Saying it was still a free country and the PNM still supported a free press, Rowley said the party had put freedom of the press in the Constitution. “So I don’t need any advice from Hamid Ghany about support for or defence of the press,” he added.



Editor’s note
As with Lennox Grant’s political history, Dr Rowley is also labouring under some misconceptions about the T&T Guardian. Last July concerns were raised at management level at the T&T Guardian over what were thought to be factual errors in reports published in the paper. The issue was eventually resolved, though three members of staff left as a result. The Guardian’s editorial staff were not and are not “directed what to do and what not to do” in reporting on political or any other issues.



Rowley wrong again—Grant
Express columnist Lennox Grant yesterday said Opposition leader Keith Rowley was again wrong in saying Grant was general secretary of Tapia. Grant said he had once been editor of the Tapia newspaper, and added, “I may see humour in what he’s saying—except I think there’s a danger some people may believe what he’s saying to be the truth and may not think it’s a joke. “I have to be careful as some of these things are misrepresenting history and misrepresenting my own image.”


 Grant said that was why he had written his column yesterday on the issue.


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