Jul 18, 2008 Features / Columnists
Guyana is perhaps the only country in the world where the responsible Government agency is not allowed to decide whom it must invite to events it hosts.
This must be the only country in the world where people can insult a Head of State then force the Head of State to accept the insult and continue as though it is business as usual.
The private media are making brouhaha over the ban imposed by the Office of the President on Gordon Moseley for disrespect and abusive tone contained in a letter that Moseley wrote to the Stabroek News and Kaieteur News.
The disrespect? Being fed up with the constant attacks by the President and his officers on the private media.
The President has a right to respond to such a comment against him and the reaction is simple. “If you are fed up with me and my attacks then do not associate with me. And I am fed up with you.” The truth is that the President has a right to react as any President would. Now that there is such a reaction there is a rush to blame the government.
The members of the local press corps take themselves really seriously and while this is a good thing, they also selectively report on national developments. It is as if they are the ones who decide on what course the country should take and not the government. This is most unfortunate because such has never been the case in any country.
The members of the local press like to point to the United States where there is supposed to exist one of the freest presses in the world. However, not all can be a part of the President’s press corps and those who are selected consider it an honour. Not one of them has ever written anything about being fed up with any aspect of the Presidency or the President of that country.
The truth is that if they are fed up then they would simply leave the corps and make room for another reporter. If while on the corps they make any derogatory statement against the President they would be thrown off. And rest assured, there would be nary a peep because that is the nature of covering the President of the United States.
The reporters would often leak the derogatory stuff to other reporters or wait until they are off the corps to write a book. But in Guyana, any move to protect the dignity of the Office of President is seen as dictatorial. And this is the case right now.
Mr Moseley, in this case, did not even voice his opinion as a reporter. When he penned the letter he did so as a private individual. Reporters concentrate on news and their opinions are contained in news and news features.
When Moseley reported from Antigua he sent information that he considered to be an accurate reflection of what transpired in that island. There was no problem with that; he was functioning as a reporter.
But when he penned his letter he had stepped into the realm of the public; he had become a private citizen and in similar vein he was treated as a private citizen—fed up with the government then keep away.
This situation, for all this, is not unusual because any other president in any country would have adopted the same measures as they have done. Guyana’s first executive president was not known to tolerate any disrespect and the press knew its limits. Fr Andrew Morrison was constantly attacking him but these attacks were always done in news reports and so there was never a question of a ban.
It is the same with Moseley, but then he goes outside being a reporter and it is here that action is taken. He, and not his news organization, has been banned from Office of the President and State House. He can still try to approach the Head of State with questions at any location other than these venues.
Yet, there is more to all this but people in their haste to cast blame sometimes fail to examine their actions.
The press is supposed to get both sides of a story and the members of that estate pride themselves on doing that although many do not do that.
The press association never set about to investigate the ban on Moseley but chose to act on hearsay. They are too keen to blame the government.
This situation has an end. Mr. Moseley can write to the Office of the President explaining his actions as a private citizen when he wrote that letter. He can argue that he was taken out of context; he can argue severity of action on the part of the administration; he can apologise for the disrespect.
It does no one any good to blame the government.
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