UNC to Pilgrim: Toeing PNM Party Line is Not “astute journalism”
I write in response to the simplistic, un-astute column by Errol Pilgrim published on 18 January 2021 in the Trinidad Express.
Pilgrim unsurprisingly hails Natalee Legore’s tirade as being “astute”, when in fact it was just the opposite: an uncritical parroting of Dr. Keith Rowley’s gratuitous – and wrong – comments about the UNC in his official statement on Donald Trump.
Indeed, it is certainly notable that the People’s National Movement – no defender of free speech – undertook the highly unusual exercise of issuing three separate Press Releases trying to protect Ms. Legore in her uncritical restatement of Dr. Rowley’s baseless and offensive assertions. This certainly appears to be the opposite of responsible, impartial journalism.
Let us be clear: There are marked differences between the Capitol Hill attacks in the US and the UNC’s 2020 post-election response. Some features of the Capitol Hill attacks that have absolutely no bearing on and/or resemblance to the UNC’s position and/or Trinidad and Tobago are as follows:
– References to the pro-Trump mob by US President-Elect Joe Biden as “a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists”;
– References to the attack as “an assault on democracy by violent rioters, incited by the current president and other politicians” (Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau); “a real disgrace to democracy” and “an attack on the freedoms of the American people” (Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs); “violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.” (U.K.’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab); “direct attack on democracy and legislators carrying out the will of the American people.” (Keir Starmer, the leader of the U.K.’s opposition Labour Party);
– The riots resulted in deaths, numerous casualties and injuries and graphic destruction and vandalism of State and personal property;
– Military response to the attack/ siege;
– Thus far, 13 persons have been charged in Federal Court and approximately 40 in Superior Court with the United States
– Department of Justice stating, “The lawless destruction of the U.S. Capitol Building was an attack against one of our greatest institutions”;
– Possible impeachment of a sitting President;
– Possible additional charges for seditious conspiracy; Rebellion/ Insurrection; advocating the overthrow of government; riot; treason.
By clear contrast, following the announcement of the 2020 Election results on 10 August 2020, all the UNC did, in accordance with due election procedure, was to request recounts in certain marginal seats.
For Ms. Legore to therefore associate, impute and equate the UNC’s lawful conduct post-election with the unlawful and egregious events of the US Capitol Hill attack is irresponsible, erroneous, reckless and demonstrates a grave betrayal of her duty as a member of the media.
We note Guardian Media Limited has supported in writing Ms. Legore’s slander and now, unsurprisingly, so does Errol Pilgrim.
As far as the post-2015 election results are concerned, surely Mr. Pilgrim must know that the 2015 High Court Judgement declared the EBC’s actions “illegal and contrary to the Election Rules”?
And I cannot imagine that Mr. Pilgrim is unaware of the long, but ultimately successful, struggle to get rid of the voting machines, even becoming a demand of the anti-PNM Black Power movement, resulting in the No-Vote election boycott of 1971?
Certainly, it requires a great stretch of the imagination – and quite a dogged determination – to equate Kamla Persad-Bissessar with Donald Trump, or UNC supporters to a mob. It would yield much better results to look to Keith Rowley, Fitzgerald Hinds, and other PNM minions for valid parallels. Nobody acts more destructively than the PNM in Opposition.
In Government, Keith Rowley has pursued a sustained agenda to marginalise and even eliminate the Opposition from its constitutional role in our system of Parliamentary democracy, to a system where the Executive functions without any Opposition.
Pilgrim’s and Legore’s unprofessionalism, bias, and not-so-hidden partisanship becomes much more dangerous, when seen in its fuller context.
The UNC supports every citizen’s right to hold and express their political points of view, whatever they may be.
However, we ask them to declare their hands, and to not deceive their readership into believing that this is anything objective or “astute”.
Dr. Kirk Meighoo
Public Relations Officer
United National Congress
The Official Opposition in the
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago