After two years in government, Prime Minister Robert Abela has made his first albeit small legal step forward to reform institutions and restore rule of law. He appointed a committee to propose a reform in response to the conclusion of the Public Inquiry on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The government has not missed the chance to make a mockery of this committee. One of the members of the committee is Labour Party hack, vice-Rector of the University of Malta and government consultant Carmen Sammut. Carmen is known for producing pseudo-intellectual diatribes against Daphne Caruana Galizia and defending Keith Schembri’s privacy. She also poured constant praise on her dear leader Joseph Muscat – a fair deal for her given that he had promoted her as vice-rector at the University.
Carmen Sammut underlines that the murder of journalist
Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb on October 16, 2017, rocked the
Maltese archipelago, situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, as well as the
international community. Her killing highlighted growing concerns around
the world with the increase in numbers of physical attacks on journalists
and the atrophy of press freedom. The Maltese blogger and journalist was
immediately elevated to martyrdom. In Malta, the notions of deification and
demonization find fertile ground since these are typical tools of polarization
in a society typified by strong party-media parallelism. This chapter argues
that the case of the slain journalist reifies Hallin and Mancini’s conceptual
framework (2004) of “pluralist polarized” contexts, where even online
disrupters operate within a scenario that sustains contending political elites.
The decline of political ideology within this democratic state has resulted in
the media retaining a crucial role in the construction and reinforcement of
bipolar political distinctions. Political and economic interests are juxtaposed
here against a weak culture of professional and ethical journalism which,
at the local level, contributed to ambivalent responses to Caruana Galizia’s
death. While her political supporters and family advanced the grand narrative
of anti-corruption journalism, martyrdom, and government impunity which
resonated internationally, at the national level, a considerable segment of
media players opposed “trials by media,” arguing that investigations and
justice need time to take their course and, moreover, that her death did not
exonerate her from the politics of odium and divisiveness which she had
amplified. Such nuanced explanations were rarely reflected in international
assessments of the case
It is a rare assessment, indeed because it is wrong. Daphne was right about Joseph Muscat’s government and the rent-seeking boom, and we knew that she was right when she was murdered. Our only problem back then was to find who was terrorising us, but meanwhile, Carmen was busy plotting academic nonsense to further muddy the waters. Carmen was an unwitting part of a well planned and multi-pronged orchestrated campaign to cover up the truth of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Carmen did this by questioning Daphne’s narratives and stories and normalised the grotesque collapse of rule of law by fancy academic terms and analysis. She also perpetuated ONE’s narrative back then that Daphne was a divisive character because of her unethical journalism and private attacks on people creating two categories in journalism between the ethical and non-ethical and putting Daphne in the latter. In this way, Carmen painted Daphne’s “martyrdom” as simply the dogmatic exaggerations of a particular section of society.
Here is the non-academic truth. As a Labour Party member (still am and not leaving) and a full-time writer, who, unlike Carmen, is not paid a publicly-funded salary, Daphne’s murder has made me fucking furious and Carmen’s made-up bullshit categories of journalism in her fantasy world don’t matter. Here’s some ethical journalism for you Carmen – fuck off.
Hannah Arendt has an excellent take on these kinds of intellectuals. Arendt argued that a large section of the intellectuals in Germany in the 1930s defended the Nazis in order to save their jobs and many of them even went on to use their academic skills to print positive narratives about Hitler. And in their excessive zeal to stand out these academics became Nazis even more than ordinary people to the extent that they eventually believed their own lies.
You can watch the full interview in this link (the part about the intellectuals is at 32):
As for the committee, I’m obviously not going to trust anything that Robert Abela has direct control of. And I’ll keep writing whatever the hell I want irrespective of all the bloody laws they make. Whatever they do it doesn’t matter. We know that it is not in Robert Abela’s interest to have a free and plural press. The thing is, much to his frustration that he can’t do anything about it.