By STANLEY CARTWRIGHT
It was interesting - but not surprising - to see Bradley Roberts, the chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party, attacking the media last week.
Mr Roberts has built a reputation for such actions during his long and very storied career.
“Big Bad Brad”, as he is often called, likes to bark, but sadly there is little bite left. He is now relegated to a glorified fabulist; warning his party faithful of the boogeyman who stands ready to pounce.
This time around, Mr Roberts suggests that the media, mainly The Nassau Guardian and The Tribune, share a common goal - the removal of the PLP from power. But the party chairman did not stop there. Mr Roberts also suggested that both media houses want to see the Free National Movement’s leader, Dr Hubert Minnis ousted from the party and the return of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Let’s take these one at a time.
The PLP has been an absolute disaster in government. They have been an administration of waste, slackness and ineptitude, not to mention corruption. The implementation of new taxes, soaring crime, record levels of unemployment and side-dealings are now synonymous with this new Christie administration.
Which is surprising given the hard lesson that our Prime Minister was forced to learn in 2007.
After suffering what many thought would have been a career-ending defeat, Christie dusted himself off and asked his party, and the country, for another chance. He told us all that he had learned from his mistakes and was prepared to make the tough decisions to take this country forward. We gave him a second chance, but sadly our Prime Minister has let us down once again.
It should not be viewed as an attempt to dethrone the current administration when the media does its job and reports on the many issues facing this country; on the contrary, it’s a call for the government to do the job for which it campaigned and promised results.
Once upon a time - while in Opposition - the PLP charged that they had the solution to crime. Given a chance, they would roll out new plans that would show immediate results during their first 100 days in office. Those 100 days have long gone; along with hundreds of young men who we’ve lost to the scourge of violent crime.
Now the mantra from the party apologists is that crime is not a political issue, and therefore the government should not be blamed for its lack of results or the escalating crime statistics.
With all due respect Mr Roberts, you can’t have it both ways.
Mr Roberts’ second and most amusing salvo was that both The Nassau Guardian and The Tribune are in a conspiracy to remove FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis. It must be so amusing for PLPs to see their party chairman attempt to prop up the FNM’s current leader.
To suggest that both media houses are seeking the return of Hubert Ingraham is preposterous at best. So, what is more likely is that Mr Roberts, through his bully pulpit, would like to ensure for Dr Minnis’ political survival as his party’s hopes of retaining the government are intricately intertwined with Minnis staying where he is.
Perhaps Mr Roberts believes that the media, who engage with Minnis on a day-to-day basis are also (in the words of the now infamous Lanisha Rolle), “envious of the favour Dr Minnis has with the masses”.
But what favour does he actually have? You can’t just throw around these statements as if they are fact. I would venture to say that Dr Minnis is as unpopular with the “masses” as he is with his own party colleagues. Surely, if he were as popular as he thinks, he would not be pushing for a National Convention in November.
These are truly interesting times. A party leader running from his own party’s convention, while his opponent attack the media for highlighting his shortcomings.
So to Mr Roberts we would like to extend some of his own advice which he offered while in Opposition back on February 3, 2011.
“The role of the media in The Bahamas must be to act as the watchdog of society, allowing the free flow of ideas, and assist people in making informed decisions. A free press protects its citizens against abuses by its government and its agencies, strengthen democracy by ensuring that the rule of law is further institutionalised by providing balanced reporting that is objective, fair and done in a timely manner and equal access to all. In the interest of transparency and openness the PLP calls on the media to discharge its sacred responsibility to people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas without bias.”
So Mr Roberts please, do not cry foul now that the shoe is on the other foot. The media is here to do a job, and to do it without fear or favour. As we hold the government’s feet to the fire, we should also hold the Official Opposition to account for its lack of performance under its current leader.