THE accounts in the following two paragraphs have been my first understanding of former President and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo’s now well-known ill temper, surly persona, intolerance for dissenting views, and probing questions from the media. His subsequent “carrion crow” and “vulture” description of the media at a public meeting in October 2011 are conclusive confirmation of the conduct of an executive, who had been patently dictatorial, disrespectful, and disregarding of Guyana. These are accounts of a leader who has always shown full disdain for the role of the media during his stewardship of this nation.
On the weekend before the August 2006 national elections, then president Bharrat Jagdeo at a press briefing held at Freedom House, in answer to a question about Raphael Trotman, now Minister of National Resources, leaving the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) to be part of the then newly formed Alliance For Change (AFC), responded that Trotman just cannot walk away from his party without giving an account for the “things” that his party had done.
The same journalist then enquired of Jagdeo whether he should not be asked about the numerous incidents of cane-burning which the PPP/C had orchestrated when the PNC had been in government. To this, Jagdeo responded in very angry tones that the reporter had been “playing politics”, and that he had no time for such.
One would recall his nasty and repugnant put-down of a then anti-government, and anti- corruption advocate, but now opportunistic pro-opposition supporter, who dared question him at a public forum on the collapsed CLICO, branding the commentator and others as “sour old men.” He also publicly threatened Komal Chand to de-recognise his union, GAWU, because of its growing concerns about the emerging problems in the sugar industry.
It is because of these and other incidents that have confirmed a cantankerous leader, that Jagdeo has since earned the brand of being an architect of ‘‘cuss down” politics. Not the kind of label that should be attached to a former Head/State/Government, except that it is fair to say that he seems to have done everything possible to be become known for such gutter conduct.
Therefore, his most recent encounter with senior journalist and President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA), Nazima Raghubir, should not be a surprise to the Guyanese people, much less to warrant a protest because of his insult to its head, because in the past four years only last month did the GPA see it fit to make a statement. In fact, this is a situation which the media umbrella body would have courted as a result of its shameless strategy of remaining quiet in the face of the many private media houses aiding and abetting Jagdeo in his dishonest peddling of fake news and revisionist history without challenge.
Daily, this association allowed its membership to pander to the sickening, disgusting, and misleading information, inclusive of stark-naked lies, and other dark deceptions aimed at destabilising the APNU+AFC coalition government, which, especially flowed from Jagdeo and other PPP/C politicians. Therefore, without fear of contradiction, the GPA has been guilty of giving Jagdeo a free pass to the most dangerous kind of incitement and misinformation ever witnessed in this country’s political history.
Under its stewardship, sections of the media have since the inception of the coalition government, been a component of the racist, right wing destabilisation plot against the government. Not once, has there been a caution from the GPA media association, cautioning the reckless and yellow crappy quality of journalism that has been the daily reading fare of the national readership.
So many times, most of its members at Jagdeo’s press conferences would attend such engagements as dumb and wandering, without challenging the opposition leader on the many dubious statements he would make. Their appearances at these media gatherings, often gave the impression of a toothless collective, which has allowed Jagdeo’s reputation for being ill-tempered and insulting, to cow them into passivity; or that they are not au fait with pertinent issues of the day, or both.
If the GPA believed that by being sycophantic, prostrate, and selective in their challenge to Jagdeo at his media briefs; as well as being deliberate in its policy of not demanding a better quality of journalistic practice from all those charged with the tenets of the Fourth Estate, that it is a price to pay for boarding his conspiratorial bandwagon, then his latest abrasive is a reminder to them that such considerations are least.
Simply put, Jagdeo has been playing the private media for all its worth because of the glaring double standards of its component parts, and his perception of them playing to his gallery for opportunistic reasons. He expects that he will continue to have a free ride, unabated, without being challenged on any aspect/issue. His latest abuse is a reminder that despite such nauseating flattery and kowtowing, he is not prepared to entertain probing by the media. The GPA has been selective, prostrate and sycophantic to Jagdeo; it has courted his latest abuse and disrespect and has only itself to blame.