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EDITORIAL: ‘Are we about hiding the truth?’

“Are we about hiding the truth?”

Not our words but those of Philip “Brave” Davis. Not today, but back in 2012, when he was in Opposition.

It was in April of that year when, a month before a general election, large billboards bloomed along the western highway in full view of visitors being driven from the airport to their uptown hotels.

The billboards informed the world that The Bahamas was a crime-ridden destination, not the glorious get-away-from-it-all paradise that the Tourism Ministry was spending mega dollars advertising.

Bahamians were alarmed that their tourist industry was being torpedoed by a desperate opposition hungry for power. That opposition went on to become the Christie government.

And one of the main proponents of those billboards in opposition is now Prime Minister.

On the billboards, crime figures were posted in startlingly large figures. When they were torn down, Mr Davis said it was “FNM goon” squads doing so. He went on to accuse then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham of being a dictator, desperate for power and intent on concealing the truth.

“I do not know why they would take down the signs with the murder count on them. That’s a fact,” said Mr Davis, adding: “The fact is that there were more than 400 murders in the country. We cannot run away from that and it’s not just that poster, they also took down posters with the unemployment statistic and others, it was not just the murders.”

When asked directly if he thought the posters would scare potential tourists from visiting the country, Mr Davis said: “We cannot hide the truth and we cannot suppress the facts. We have to address the issues of crime.”

And yet, yesterday, Mr Davis was calling exactly for the hiding of the truth.

Is his solution to deal with the spike in murders? No, it is to blame the media for reporting the murders that have actually taken place.

Mr Davis acknowledged that there has been “some fall off” in the hotels, “but more importantly, those who are in the hotels today, they’re not coming out into the community. They’re not going to the restaurants, for example. They’re not going sightseeing as they used to.”

Mr Davis went on to “call upon the press to be sensitive”. He said: “I think they should see their role as trying to help the country. I’m not saying not to report, but where you report, it may make a difference.

“And all I ask them to do is check, check to see where their crime report is. Check Trinidad, check the United States, just check and see where it is. It’s never on the front page.

“But every bullet that is fired appears to be front page news on all of our daily news. And what happens, AP picks it up, Reuters pick it up and what happens, and it’s continuing.”

Let us first debunk some of that. We have had 25 murders so far this year. When there are 25 murders in such a short space of time in a population of 400,000, that is a significantly high murder rate and would be reported wherever you are in the world.

Take a look at United States newspapers after a mass shooting – you will find it prominently reported.

As for AP and Reuters, they have stories filed to them directly by Bahamian journalists, it is not a matter of being picked up because it is on a front page. And the crime alerts, from the likes of the US and Canada as have been issued, are not reacting to front pages but to statistics and facts.

This is the same man who said in 2012: “We cannot hide the truth. Are we about hiding the truth? Are we going to be concerned about the impression that the truth gives? The only way we can get rid of these things is to address the issue.”

And right there is the heart of it. Address the issue. Stop the murders and there will be no murders to put on the front page. The weekend just gone saw no additions to the murder count, perhaps the first such weekend this year. The front pages instead told different stories.

Stop the bloodshed, and there will be no bloodshed to report. But do not tell the press not to report on what is taking place on our streets, especially when you yourself have done exactly the same on billboards that catch the attention so much that we are still reporting on the fact 12 years later.

Asked about those self-same billboards yesterday, Mr Davis’ response was: “That’s the past. I am looking forward.”

It is wrong for a leader to try to tell a free press what it should or should not do. It is dangerous for a leader to try to encourage the press to hide the truth. People are concerned about the violence on our streets. There is genuine worry. And it is bullets not headlines driving such fears. If the government wants to restore faith, then it has to start by ending the violence. Pretending it is not there will not help anyone.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

There is a fall out they say in 2023, could the Editor say if there was a fall out when mr Davis put up the billboards that is important was there a fall out in 2012

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

Fall out in 2024 making a request to the press is not dangerous, suggesting that the government stop the crime they would if they could the FNM can not do it either the fall out will Hurt PLPs and FNM s

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moncurcool 2 months, 1 week ago

This editorial is spot on. Davis is just hypocritical in his remarks. But worst off, he does not have a clue to handle what is happening.

We need leaders in this country and not tired people like Davis who needs to go retire.

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Porcupine 2 months, 1 week ago

Politicians everywhere are useless. Politics now attracts the sociopaths, where everyone grabs what they can and is in it for power and money. It is happening everywhere. Those who would object to this editorial are enablers. Blind to the realities. Both the FNM and PLP have attracted the worst of the worst. People who support the hypocrisy of the PM seem unable to discern the truth and be decent judges of character.. Our politicians have neither. They are hot air bags that cannot tell the truth. The politicians in The Bahamas are harming this country and the vast majority of its people. That our education system has failed is no accident. Read the comments by Birdie above, or any Birdie comments and tell me we are an enlightened nation. My God. It seems as if there is no reason at all for our children to stay in this country. We have, and are, failing on an epic scale. Just listen to the words of our lost Prime Minister. And, he went to law school? My God.

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 1 week ago

Sadly, we have a dumb & dangerous PM ............ Cannot hide that.

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themessenger 2 months, 1 week ago

As a well-known, respected and long deceased Statesman once put it with regards to the politician; "He's asked to stand, he wants to sit, he's expected to lie........"

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