Published on: 3/26/07.
AN ANGRY Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch abruptly pulled the plug during a live radio broadcast yesterday after a question was raised about his alleged rise from being a “virtual beggar” to millionaire status in recent years. Lynch told Starcom Network’s Sunday Brasstacks talk-show host David Ellis, who was putting the issue of the minister’s reported wealth accumulation after receiving an emailed query in the studio, that the question was “as disrespectful as you can get”.
BU reviews the highly publicized incident two months ago when Barbados leading journalist, David Ellis was involved in an unprecedented “on air” clash with Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch, on the popular call-in program Down to Brasstacks. To all those who were fortunate to listen to the program we are reminded by the adage, if yuh start wrong, yuh gine end wrong. It was revealed to listeners that Minister Lynch’s participation on the call-in program was preconditioned on tourism industry expert and hotel owner Adrian Loveridge having to suffer the ignominy of sitting in a different studio to enable his own participation on the same program. David Ellis clarified his decision in a subsequent program to agree to the unusual request from Minister Lynch by saying what amounted to the fact that the need to get Lynch on the program to discuss CWC 2007 justified having Adrian Loveridge’s watered downed participation from another area of the studio. To David Ellis and Starcom Network BU gives you a brick-bat on that one. No one person – and especially a servant of the people – should ever be allowed to feel that they can dictate to the media to the extent where they would participate in a public discourse which is designed to promote their interest over any citizen of Barbados. It is not BU’s intention to rehash all that has been said and written about that fateful show on the 25 March 2007, we prefer to focus on the bigger picture.
The question which begs to be asked is what prompted a veteran journalist like David Ellis to ask what he must have known would have been a controversial question. To offer a response we have to examine Ellis’s growing stature as the leading journalist in Barbados which has come coincidentally through the call-in programs and even before that the much listened to “Point at Issue” broadcasted on VOB on Sunday afternoons. The growing public perception appears to be that Ellis is well researched when conducting interviews and feeds the public perception of being knowledgeable on a wide range of issues. David Ellis is a journalist who enjoys public confidence but despite his best efforts is always casted in a “rubbish” light by Prime Minister Arthur. Several times the public has heard Arthur engage in “cat and mouse” exchanges when Ellis has sought to request one on one interviews. It seems logical that if David Ellis is regarded as our leading journalist, who happens to work at the leading radio station with the widest listenership, then Prime Minister Arthur should pay Ellis the professional courtesy by ensuring that there is good public dialogue between the two of them. Perhaps the fact that Ellis regards DLP Brandford Taitt as a mentor and friend could provide a clue. The fact that Arthur has been able to continue his estranged relationship with Ellis with little or no fall-out is worthy of analysis. BU will continue to discount the role of the Barbados Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the lack of feedback or support for Ellis of any kind regarding this matter.
In the aftermath of the Barney Lynch and David Ellis saga it has afforded a terrific insight – if it were not already known – regarding the effectiveness of the media practitioner in Barbados. This is what we know happened immediately after the event:
- Ellis was forced to offer an on air apology to Lynch on behalf of his employer Starcom Network after pressure was received from the highest office in the land. He also offered his personal apology. BU believes that the “question” posed to Lynch was at worst poorly worded but one which John Public wants answered. The “question” must also be seen in the context of the behaviour Lynch exhibited towards Adrian Loveridge on the same program as truly one of being an obnoxious and spoil brat who should have received a good “cutarse” for the effort. Our sources suggest that he was also less than truthful on the issue of the true indebtedness of HRL Ltd, it is well known within the tourism ministry that Lynch has a hands-on approach and now that he has responsibility for HRL Ltd no doubt he would have become very familiar with the case. BU restates that Lynch lied in response to a question from Ellis that he did not know the debt number of HRL Ltd. Lynch is on public record before the Brasstacks program as stating that the HRL Ltd problem is currently occupying his attention and the public will be apprised of government’s action plan to restructure HRL Ltd very soon. Now tell us Minister Lynch, how could you have been actively engaged in finding a solution for HRL Ltd but significant knowledge regarding the debt burden of HRL Ltd you acknowledge that you are ignorant? You must take the Barbadian public for ignoramuses!
- Ellis was removed from the hot seat for a while until the issue abated and functioned behind the scenes as producer of the call-in programs. BU will not accept the excuse that Dennis Johnson was on vacation and therefore Ellis was functioning as relief.
- Sources within VOB reported that there was the suggestion tabled to change the current format of the call-in program to a tape delay format, the suggestion was vetoed by Vic Fernandez who thought that it would remove the spontaneity which gives the program its current high appeal and rating.
- VOB has in recent weeks been advertising the post of a Legal Officer who must have the Bachelors of laws degree (LLB) qualification. It suggests to us that as a station it is not only aware of the injudicious comments which can come from callers but also the moderators because after all the Ellis “blunder” was the catalyst for advertising the position.
BU has has attempted to examine the wider implications of the treatment meted out to Ellis – who has become frustrated at his ineffectiveness within the political hierarchy of Barbados – and to have supported a conclusion that the media in Barbados is clearly not respected by a key Estate in Barbados, the government. The harsh reality is that the media practicioners in Barbados are controlled like puppets because the media houses are controlled by the commercial houses which in turn pander to political interest.