Every citizen complains about bias in the media — well, ok, not every citizen. From what I can tell from the chat groups and blogs, it's about four or five UNC sycophants, Jack Warner's hired propagandist, and a few a.k.a. Anand Ramlogans. But I do admit that I am biased, and not just towards tight women in tighter jeans.
Last week, for example, I wrote that Sunday Newsday columnist Peter O' Connor had, in his October 7 column, "argued that the media should publish photographs of the residence of female reporters, if their residence belongs to a PNM politician". But O'Connor e-mailed me to point out that he'd never written that a photograph should be published; rather, he had made a case for publication of the actual address of the reporter's residence. His exact words were: "But what if, and I do not know this, that reporter's address is the home of an Opposition politician, and that fact suggests to us why the reporter attacks the Government? Can that not be considered as fair a comment as the exposure of the address of (Reshmi Ramnarine)?"
Now I interpreted O'Connor's question as rhetorical, not interrogative, which would mean he was arguing that it would be justified for the reporter's address to be published. But my assumption was itself biased, since O'Connor is a colleague of Jack Warner: so I believe that what he says is not necessarily what he means. Mind you, I'm not saying that O'Connor was lying, hypocritical, or has double standards. That's only the case when a journalist does it (and, even then, not if the journalist is a National Award-getting one). So now, after extensive investigations into a bottle of rum, I can see media exposés through UNC eyes.
Take, for example, the story about the appointment of 31-year-old unqualified Reshmi Ramnarine as director of the Strategic Services Agency. Would a responsible and objective media have published such an article just eight months after the People's Partnership came into office? All the a.k.a. Ramlogans don't think so. Far from revealing cronyism, nepotism, and alcoholism, this report just showed media bias against Indians, high heels and fat women.
Then came a series of reports about Sports Minister Anil Roberts spending $869,000 on Nicki Minaj for a "Localise It'' concert; his getting into an accident in a Government SUV he wasn't supposed to be driving; and his refusal to release funds for local football at the behest of Warner. Did the media publish these articles to reveal wasteful spending, flouting of regulations, and testicular removal? Or are journalists just biased against douglas, expensive suits, and big mouths?
Indeed, according to many UNC pseudonyms, racism is the media's main bias. So when the Express last August carried a story about Government Minister Devant Maharaj running up a $5,000 phone bill in one month on a government cell phone he gave to his girlfriend, this clearly showed that the media is biased against a Hindu man having long romantic talks with a woman he isn't married to.
Along with this, the media is also sexist. That is why they have carried reports on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar co-opting a National Security helicopter to travel from Port of Spain to San Fernando. Did the media object when former prime minister Patrick Manning wanted to buy a private jet for his office? Some might answer yes, but only those who read the newspaper articles and commentaries which forced Manning to abandon that plan. Whereas all Kamla wants is a small helicopter to fly around in.
But why is the media so biased? In the end, it all comes down to the calibre of people who become journalists. It is clear that most reporters don't have friends, or why else would they keep writing stories about State board appointments? They probably don't have strong family ties, either, which is why they wrote about Kamla carrying her sister to India as a $868,000 personal assistant.
In fact, the fact that the Integrity Commission found that Kamla didn't contravene any laws by hiring her sister proves that the media have no integrity. Integrity chairman Ken Gordon, himself a former media mogul, refused to give any explanation because he thinks Clause 20 (1) of the Integrity Act means that confidentiality about information is the same as keeping rationales for judgements secret. Law Association president Seenath Jairam could point out otherwise, but he's probably too busy reading Clico briefs at $1,200 an hour.
But this is the core problem with media: their most virulent bias is against secrecy in public life. That is why they tried to embarrass the Government by revealing the Section 34 debacle, in which the media also demonstrated clear bias against businessmen who contribute their hard-earned dollars to help sponsor Government Ministers' rum shop talks on TV.
Once I sober up, though, I'm pretty sure I won't see these UNC biases anymore.