President of Antigua & Barbuda Media Congress (ABMC) Colin James has three disclaimers: one, he has only heard paraphrases of the comments that landed Senator EP Chet Greene in political and broadcasting hot water; two, his recent termination from Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) where he was the public relations officer is a private matter; and three, he is at all times guided by the tenets of journalism, which include neutrality and fairness.
That said, though, James refused to drop the hot-potato issue du jour, which includes comments made in the media about the governor general and whether the holder of that office is automatically above reproach.
“One of the comments I want to associate with is the whole question of why the government allowed the governor general to enter the cut and thrust of the political milieu,” James said.
He told OBSERVER he feels that Dame Louise Lake-Tack was “given a basket to carry water” when she “was allowed to speak on the findings of the tribunal” that investigated three ABEC commissioners).
“That should have been handled by a functionary of the government, and there is a feeling that the fact that she made the announcement and pronounced on the tribunals findings created a disadvantage by opening up the Office of the Governor General – not the individual – for criticism. That is something that needs to be looked at,” James said.
His take on the furore that has since developed – including comments from a senator in his capacity as a talk show host being sanctioned by his parliamentary peers; a word of caution from the commissioner of police to the managers of the station; and sometimes rabid public debate about who can and cannot be criticised and to what extent – is that “Dame Louise entered the fray and became unfair game.
“I say unfair game because I don’t think the aim was to enter the political fray since the Office of the Governor General is intended to be independent. But what happened, and what can be garnered about what some people feel, by their comments, is that the report should have been allowed to speak for itself rather than the governor general speaking to the report,” James told The Daily OBSERVER.
As said previously, the Media Congress boss is aware that some people might interpret his comments based on his termination.
Of his past role at ABEC he said, “I looked at it from the point of view that I was going there to assist the country, not any particular group or any individual … I can’t fashion people’s thinking, but I can say that I am operating with neutrality, balance and fairness.”
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)