VICE Media
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AN Internet search on VICE Media would expose a flurry of reports following media investigations, including by the New York Times, into sexual violence allegations in 2017, at VICE, targeting the leadership which had created a “boys club” at the peril of women staff; something the company later apologised for. The company’s co-founder and then CEO, Shane Smith, transitioned to Executive Chairman of VICE Media’s Board of Directors, and a woman CEO was hired. While that issue is not the essence of this editorial, as far as exploring VICE Media’s foundation and integrity is concerned, the question of “diversity”, internally, impacts the quality of stories presented externally.

In early February, Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo was interviewed by a VICE News reporter, who made several allegations about the VP’s involvement in Guyana’s public procurement process. VICE News is VICE Media’s current affairs channel. All of claims against the VP were unfounded, and attempted to paint the VP as culpable in corrupt preferential practices. VP Jagdeo, maintaining his transparency from the inception, released the full one-hour, 39 minutes, and 16 seconds interview with the international reporter. Unsurprisingly, the VICE News final product reduced that sizeable 99-minute interview to a mere 15 minutes, with the Vice-President’s contribution reduced to a soundbite.

Even before the publication of the 15-minute final product, titled, “Guyana For Sale”, Dr. Jagdeo questioned not only the anti-China agenda of VICE News, but also the anti-blackness that emerges from global indices that report, annually, on global corruption, which consistently cast countries with non-white national leaders as more corrupt. VICE News is no stranger to propping up this system.

A 2020 CNN Business report titled, “VICE distances itself, again, from co-founder who started Proud Boys”, reported the effort by VICE Media to distance itself from its co-founder, Gavin McInnes. McInnes, according to CNN, also founded the Proud Boys, “a far-right group whose ideology has been labeled ‘misogynistic, islamophobic, transphobic, and anti-immigration’ by the Anti-Defamation League.”

“Officially, the group describes themselves as being organised around the belief that ‘West Is The Best’ – what they call Western Chauvinism – and reject the label of White supremacists and alt-right,” CNN Business reported. VICE Media’s pro-west, anti-China reporting has been clear, and must also be seen as the philosophical underpinning of the reports against China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a point raised by VP Jagdeo on at least one occasion during his press conference.

The media house, despite public statements, has not drifted far from the vision of its co-founder. VICE’s co-founder, McInnes, was quoted in a 2003 New York Times article as saying: “I love being white, and I think it’s something to be very proud of… I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now, and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.”
When CNN Business reached out to McInnes about VICE’s attempt to distance itself from his comments in 2020, the VICE co-founder responded: “I created that brand, and defined the content, from its inception to when I left in 2008. My pithy irreverence still haunts it like Banquo’s ghost.”

Turning attention to the VICE News report, which failed to link the VP to collecting bribes, VP Jagdeo maintained, throughout the soundbites, that he is not an active part of these processes, as he is in government. Lobbyists swindling potential investors by posing as legitimate interlocutors is a concern raised at least twice by the VP during his press conferences. The Guyana Chronicle reported on June 1 that a man accused of being a fraudulent lobbyist was arrested after claiming to be able to use his connections with the government to get preferential treatment for companies.

The VP said then: “A few months ago, I had cause to have someone arrested here in this building [Office of the President]. Someone who met me in the [International Energy Conference and Expo], took a picture with me [and then] went to a number of people and collected money from them. He said he had a close relation with me; I’ve never seen him in my life…

“This is going on; it has become almost like an industry now, where people [are] claiming they are representing companies, and I don’t know what they are representing to these people… If any of these companies believe that meeting government officials would give them improved chances when the bids are evaluated, they are wasting their money and their time.”

The VICE News report was intended to cast aspersions, and create distrust among Guyanese, by leaving a myriad of open-ended, unanswered questions in a brazen, failed attempt to discredit Guyana’s leadership. It must be seen as an attempt to bully Guyana into severing ties with global partners that do not fall within the approved list of the puppet masters at international media houses like VICE News. Every Guyanese should reject this.

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