Gazette accused of OBA bias
The Royal Gazette has been accused of agreeing not to write anything negative about the Government.
Opposition leader Marc Bean made the accusation during the motion to adjourn at the House of Assembly last night.
Claiming to have credible evidence to back up his statement, the PLP leader said Gazette reporters had been told that nothing negative about the OBA, or Bermuda in general, can be on the front page.
The Royal Gazettes Acting Editor Jeremy Deacon denied the charges. There is no truth to the allegations made by Mr Bean, he said. Its a shame he has chosen to make these claims as he did, without first coming to the paper for clarification.
Citing recent Government statements on the multi-million dollar repairs to Heritage Wharf, Mr Bean said local media coverage leading up the mega-ships arrival had been nothing but collusion, and spin.
Eventually the truth catches up to you, said Mr Bean. But, with regards to The Royal Gazette, we have credible evidence that the newspapers journalists have been told by their editors, and their board of directors, that nothing negative about the OBA Government, or Bermuda in general, can be on the front page, let alone reported on.
Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley rose to his feet to call for a point of order. Just because we have Parliamentary privilege in this area we cant come up here and talk unsubstantiated hogwash, said Mr Dunkley, who called on the Opposition leader to table the evidence.
Mr Bean continued: I dare not expose who our source is within The Royal Gazette, but its credible, and these journalists feel that their integrity, and their professionalism, has been questioned, and compromised.
The PLP leader pointed to several situations which he believed highlighted The Gazettes bias against his party.
During this Budget debate the members on this side of the House raised pertinent questions and none of them reached The Royal Gazette, not one, he said. They all sat up, and said that all things negative regarding the Progressive Labour Party has to be on the front page, and we are not even the Government. That is the strategy of The Royal Gazette — nothing negative about the OBA.
There are some supporters of ours who say that this is akin to North Korea style media reporting. Its censored, and its for that reason, for the publics editifcation, if they have been wondering why they have not seen the PLP over the last few months in the newspaper, its because we decided that we would not engage The Royal Gazette if their content is based on being negative towards the Opposition.
And they are willing not to hold to account, as they did when we were the Government, the current Government.
Mr Bean also accused unnamed individuals of bring undue pressure to bear on The Gazette, claiming that the paper had been told it would lose advertising money if they printed negative stories.
We understand who owns and controls The Royal Gazette, he said. In fact, we were told that if anything negative about the OBA comes into print, they will lose advertising dollars. We will squeeze them around the neck, they were told. Its serious, its very serious.
Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz interjected, and said: This honourable member is coming here with entirely fabricated things, hes not quoting any sources.
Jonathan Howes, the CEO of Bermuda Press (Holdings) Limited, last night threatened Mr Bean with legal action if he repeated the accusations outside of the House of Assembly.
Marc Bean, the leader of the PLP, has made several unsubstantiated accusations against the Board and Management of The Royal Gazette, hiding behind the privilege afforded him by speaking in the House of Assembly, said Mr Howes.
Should Mr Bean wish to make such libellous remarks outside the House of Assembly, where he is not protected by privilege, The Royal Gazette will take appropriate legal action.
Earlier, PLP MP Rolfe Commissiong chastised Acting Editor Jeremy Deacon on changes made to the newspapers Opinion Page. He questioned what subliminal message was being sent by the lack of black thinkers who had been featured since its change.
For the last 50 editions of this newspaper weve had a new feature on the Opinion Page where they put great quotes from great thinkers, said Mr Commssiong.
Well Ive been monitoring this for the last two or three months, theres not one quote ever been in here from a black thinker. In other words, are there no great black thinkers that can be featured here?
What is going on here with Jeremy Deacon, and his English cadre, who dominate the leadership of that paper now, who can be in a country that has at least 60 percent of its inhabitants being black Bermudians, of African ancestry, but somehow feel within themselves that was not reason enough to at least give us maybe one per week, you can have the others.
But, for two or three months, I havent seen one black quoted. No black thinker has been featured.
The question is, what is the subliminal message that is being conveyed by that? Like I said, every time we think that things are getting better with The Royal Gazette, they invariably get worse. I would hope that someone for The Royal Gazette is listening now because this needs to be addressed.
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