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Friday, July 25, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Anti-Rowley e-mail campaign exposed
E-mails apparently written by UNC strategy advisers and supporters in the media have been leaked to People’s National Movement (PNM) vice chairman Camille Robinson-Regis, she revealed on Thursday night. At a packed PNM public meeting in the Croisee, San Juan, Robinson-Regis read out the content of the e-mails, as the crowd jeered and catcalled.
One e-mail exchange between radio talk show host and activist Phillip Alexander and UNC deputy leader Dr Roodal Moonilal, copies of which were obtained by the T&T Guardian, appears to show the media personality and possible UNC candidate for Diego Martin West pitching a political television chat show.
The show proposed by Alexander, called Equal Time, would be shown at prime time on the state-owned CNMG television channel C News and would be a platform from which beleaguered or disgraced government ministers could defend themselves.
The second e-mail, sent from an address apparently belonging to Rodney Charles, T&T’s UN ambassador, who will work for the UNC as general election campaign manager in 2015, was sent to an elite list of UNC strategists, supporters and media associates and called for a full-scale sustained attack on PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley designed to provoke him to anger, undermine his personal character and drag down his poll ratings.
Prime-time show for ministers
The Alexander-Moonilal e-mail exchange took place on the morning of May 31 under the subject heading “Make this Happen and everybody wins.” Alexander suggests to an undisclosed recipient list, “Every evening from six to seven on CNMG there could be a one-hour show called ‘Equal Time’ hosted by yours truly.” Modelled on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, the show, Alexander suggests, will “take the sting out of the news,” using sarcasm and satire.
“The first 15 minutes of the second half-hour would be guest-driven,” Alexander said. “Usually someone in the public eye (government ministers under attack especially) that we ‘humanise’ with humour and personal fun questions until the last bit where we give them the opportunity to debunk opposition misinformation.” Alexander goes on to suggest the show would “undermine opposition messaging in the biased media” and “deliver the lion’s share of the news audience to C News where the content is more balanced...”
Alexander responds: Someone snooping
After the leaked exchange was revealed by Robinson-Regis and posted across PNM social media pages, Alexander took to Facebook, suggesting the PNM was snooping on private correspondence. Asked whether somebody on his distribution list might have leaked the e-mail, he told the T&T Guardian he had forwarded Moonilal’s response to four people, one of whom was his son and another his producer. He did not reveal the names of the other two, but said, “I know for a fact they are of unimpeachable character.”
Roodal Moonilal told the T&T Guardian, “I cannot recall reading such an e-mail but Mr Alexander is a well-known proficient writer and political strategist. “I am very troubled by Rowley’s ability to clandestinely intercept private and confidential correspondence.” Asked whether there may be a leak within the UNC or amongst Alexander’s people, Moonilal replied, “I believe the PNM has some system of intercepting e-mails and text messages.”
Moonilal was then asked whether the content of the suggested TV show would be appropriate for state-funded television. He replied, “In our future discussion we would discuss policy and paying public or private media. We pay all. I have a duty to keep the PNM in opposition and to remind people of the sins of the PNM.”
Campaign against PNM leader
The other e-mail leaked to Robinson-Regis was apparently sent by Rodney Charles. The e-mail reads, “We propose launching a full-scale attack on Keith Rowley come the morning of May 19, 2014, ie, the morning after his expected landslide victory. We absolutely need to bring down his polling ratings. We are therefore asking you (and all our supporters) in whatever way you can, to be part of that attack.”
Charles’ suggestions include referring to him as “Rowley—not Dr Keith Rowley,” associating Rowley’s name with short negative soundbites such as “Rowley is unfit to lead,” and playing up the central themes of the attack campaign by portraying the Opposition Leader as arrogant, dictatorial, temperamental and not a team player.
The e-mail concludes, “Let us…do what we have to do to bring start (sic) putting KR on the defensive. He has shown himself unable to weather sustained attacks. He becomes angry and in effect a raging bull.” Charles proposed three weeks of sustained attacks to take place during the period of the UNC’s anniversary celebrations, as well as the May 23 trade union march in which the PNM and Rowley played a prominent part.