Janelle De Souza
The Prime Minister attacked the media on Saturday, including Sunday Newsday deputy editor Darren Bahaw, when asked about the attorney general, as well as an attempt by a TV6 reporter to clarify the claims made on social media about a government official.
It sparked Dr Rowley’s criticism of the mainstream media, their reporting and their use of social media, during a press conference at the VIP lounge at Piarco International Airport on Saturday, ahead of his departure for Suriname for a Caricom summit.
Bahaw tried to ask Dr Rowley if he had done his due diligence on Reginald Armour, SC, before Armor was appointed AG, saying he had already sent the question via WhatsApp while the Prime Minister was at the United States.
When Bahaw referenced the post, Rowley said, “Go no further. I advise you, go no further. You know why? Let me tell you why because I think your colleagues need to know. You are the gentleman who stood outside the hall of justice for hours waiting for me to walk out of court when I sued the Integrity Commission. And you waited and took a picture with the bars out front at carnival time, and you took me out with the bars in front of me and the headline then was “Rowley Appears in Court.”
” You remember it ? I who sued the Integrity Commission, I appeared in court. When someone “appears in court”, do you know what that means? This means that they have been brought to justice for a criminal case. That, go check the archives in the Express and you’ll find that there. And it was your fault. And you come to ask me now what? I’m not going to answer you!”
Rowley then refused to answer Bahaw’s questions even as Bahaw told the Prime Minister he had no personal grudge against him. The Prime Minister chimed in saying he was ‘simply highlighting the role the media plays in cases of malice’.
Rowley was referring to an article published in the Express while Bahaw was a reporter for that newspaper.
In 2007, Rowley sought judicial review of the Integrity Commission’s decision to make, conclude or publish a report resulting from the investigation into the “Landate Project” which began in 2004. The investigation focused over the alleged siphoning of materials from Scarborough Hospital. site of a development project in Mason Hall, Tobago, where his wife, Sharon Rowley, owned and developed.
Rowley said the Integrity Commission acted in bad faith and failed to give him an opportunity to be heard on the allegations against him, and in 2009 he was awarded damages.
Bahaw said digital records from the Express showed the story he wrote was headlined, Rowley makes his first court appearance in the Landate case – and was published on Tuesday, February 13, 2007. It does not didn’t remember who took the photo.
During Saturday’s press conference, Bahaw persisted in asking his question about Armor and, according to Bahaw, assistant press secretary Abby Brathwaite took the microphone away from him and told him he could not ask any more questions about Armor. the question.
However, he continued without the microphone and the Prime Minister eventually responded saying he was not involved in the matter and would let the courts deal with it.
Bahaw admitted to Rowley that he sent the WhatsApp message on June 10, asking about the Piarco airport corruption case in Florida, while Rowley was at the IX Summit of the Americas, in Los Angeles.
Questions from the WhatsApp message included:
* Did Attorney General Reginald Armor declare his potential conflict before accepting the position of AG on March 16, 2022?
* In accordance with due diligence checks on potential candidates to join the Firm, particularly for lawyers who may be involved in many cases as defense attorneys, Mr. Armor’s representation of persons accused of fraud in Did the Piarco case surface and was there a recognizance for him to recuse himself in any related matter?
* In light of a US judge’s decision disqualifying both US law firm Sequor Law and the Attorney General from further involvement in the case, and the estimated loss of over $20 million TT in legal fees paid to this firm, do you believe that the outcome of the case is at risk as well as the public’s trust in the government, which requires your thoughtful attention?
* Do you think Mr. Armor’s representation of having a minimal role in the Piarco case, which is contrary to the public record, is sufficient for you to consider his removal?
“I was only doing my job as a journalist in the interest of the public. I am surprised by the Prime Minister’s outburst which, in my view, was unjustified,” Bahaw said.
Asked which 2007 headline Rowley was talking about, Express editor Omatie Lyder told Sunday Newsday she hadn’t checked the files to see who wrote the article, took the photo or even the year of the incident. She said she wasn’t sure who wrote the article or headline, who edited the newspaper, who took or chose the photo, or who designed the page.
“In any event, we don’t sit down and decide to do something deliberately misleading or malicious. It would not have been deliberate in the context of which the Prime Minister accuses Darren, ”said Lyder.
The incident was the culmination of statements by Rowley after TV6 reporter Urvashi Roopnarine asked about a social media post claiming a senior government official’s foreign account was being scrutinized by states -United.
In response, Rowley said, “I’m a big fan of the media, as you know, but when the media gets its beat from the social media craziness, I really don’t want to get involved in it.”
He said his time and that of media personnel was too valuable to consider the statements of someone without credibility who had no evidence. He lamented that MPs, people who are supposed to guide the country, are also getting involved as if referring to it will make the claims true.
He added that he was amazed by the “level of viciousness” in the national community as people commented on this and similar posts, hoping the negative reports were true of him and his government officials.
“Social media is used to perpetuate some of the worst of our people. I don’t know if everyone does it, but in TT it’s normal. Absolute rubbish! And it seems the more ridiculous the garbage, the easier it is to get into TT’s narrative.