Press briefings ‘pot shots’ at government, says Alden

| 23/01/2014

(CNS): The regular TV press briefings originally instigated by the former PPM administration, adopted and dropped by the McKeeva Bush led UDP government and then reinstated by the minority Cabinet last year will not be returning. Once a staunch advocate of the briefings, Premier Alden McLaughlin said his government would answer any press enquiries when they were made but he did not see a need to re-establish weekly briefings just so the media could take "pot shots at government". Although the PPM had said it would hold regular briefings, if not necessarily on a weekly basis, since coming to office the ministers have held only specific calls, where the media have been directed to ask only relevant questions to the press briefing topic.

On Wednesday, however, when the premier appeared alongside the deputy governor to talk about and answer questions regarding the auditor general’s latest reports on the shortcomings of governance, CNS asked the premier if press briefings would be returning and for answers to a number of unanswered questions that have been submitted over the last few months.

McLaughlin dismissed the need for regular briefings.

“If the media has questions, let us have them. I am not prepared to engage in a back and forth and let the media take pot shots at us,” he said.

When pressed, he gave short answers to some of the questions that CNS has submitted, including details on the government’s plans for one man, one vote and the state of the Dart talks, but the premier made it clear that there was little he could say on the subjects, which was why the questions had not been answered.

During the election campaign the PPM had highlighted their introduction of weekly briefings as a positive factor in their preference for open and transparent government. They were held, the party said, to advise the media and country of government actions and activities. 

“One of the first changes the PPM government introduced was a weekly press briefing at which journalists could ask what they wanted,” the party manifesto from the 2013 campaign states.

Although the current premier has not resorted to televised national statements since taking office, an issue he criticised the former premier over, he has utilized his press secretary to send out statements to the media on issues such as the immigration changes and other key policy decisions. In such cases, the media then has to chase the premier, other relevant ministers or senior civil servants regarding any questions arising.

Disappointed about the position taken over communicating with the media, CNS reporter, Wendy Ledger, said, "Everyone in the local press appreciates that government ministersare busy and feeding the ever-hungry news beast is not a priority for them.

“But getting questions answered in a timely fashion is never easy so we end up calling and pestering busy politicians for answers,” she said, adding that while some government ministers and officials are very quick and helpful answering enquiries, on some of the more sticky issues government has been less forthcoming.

“It may not be their priority to answer us but it’s our job to press,” said Ledger. “With a regular briefing we can ask all the questions and raise all the topical queries at one time when we know we will be meeting with government ministers. This is an advantage for them,too, as it means they won’t be fielding calls and emails all the time when they are busy.

“It avoids us all constantly, as individual reporters, often asking very similar questions and the same ministers then having to repeat the answers. It would also prevent us from having to resort to the tired lines saying we have contacted the relevant minister or official but don’t have a response when we run reports on issues of public interest and concern,” she added.

Ben Meade, the news director Cayman 27, also had some concerns. He said that the team’s reporters have not had a problem with access to the premier and some of his cabinet ministers but he was hoping that McLaughlin would reconsider his position.

“I trust that this will continue despite his recent position on the press briefings. However, I find it unfortunate that the premier sees it fit to view press briefings as an opportunity for members of the press to 'take pot shots' at him. Part of our role in the media is to hold public officials, elected and otherwise, accountable on behalf of the Cayman public. Regular press briefings provide a great avenue for this and I hope he seriously reconsiders his position on this matter," he told CNS.

Category: Politics

Comments (60)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This the Pot calling the kettle black all Alden did was use the media to take regular pot shots at the UDP for years. Not that he’s in the big seat he can’t take the heat. Oh and another think I’d like to mention is that I am glad to see that Bush so far doesn’t seem to be taking the same path of constantly bashing the PPM like they did him. I think that at this time all anyone has to do is just sit back and let Alden hang himself for making so many promises to do things he knew he couldn’t.

    These are the main promises that I am curious to see how he handles or explains away.

    Implement One Man One Vote, He promised to do this if he was elected.

    Renegotiate the Dart NRA deal to get west Bay road reopened and stop the concessions given to Dart. ( Please note that I do think this was a good deal for Cayman).

    Cancel the Fuel Duty taxes that Bush was forced to put in place to balance the budget.

    Cut unemployment in half within 100 days, well too late for that.

    He did keep his promise to put a stop to the Bodden Town Dump Deal. OK Fine,  But he also stated that they had a viable solution to remediate the George Town Dump in place. I want to see how this is going to happen and hope it doesn’t take years to start. They haven’t said a word about this to date.

    And the goes on.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another Bush zombie. There was plenty to take pot shots at the UDP about.  XXXX

  2. Anonymous says:

    He needs an eye opener, like a roll over policy on his head? Make the big calls or get out the driver seat! This country are tired of cowards & followers & people who can’t make big decisions etc! Caymanian

  3. Anonymous says:

    I may understand the sentiment, but not the choice of words. Ministers I would encourage you to have at least monthly press briefing which areopen to all subjects.

  4. Anonymous says:

    One step forward?  Ok.  Then.. two steps back. 

     

    What was the line in that tune?? Oh yeah

     

     "why don't they do what they say say what they mean?"

  5. Anon says:

    Sounds like Mr McLaughlin has a "conspiracy" theory also. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    somebody say pot shots? legalize it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    A free press is a thing of the past in Cayman. Ever since Uzzell sold the Compass all that is is want-a-be politions using their wealth to try to tarnish PPM. There is still a God and He still rules

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't know about potshots, but someone's been smoking pot before they wrote this comment. I foresee a supreme pizza in your future, very soon.

    • Anonymous says:

      God ?

      What planet are you from ?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has never had the unity, sound, efficient, conscientuous, hardworking and honest Government that it now has. You just can't handle that only PPM could accomplish this unity while maintaining true honesty in all of its undertakings. Those that squeal are those who don't get favours done for them any longer. Get over it PPM rules and rules impeccably

  9. Anonymous says:

    Alden is not resisting OMOV. This will be done before the next general election. What is the big hurry when there are so many other pressing issues that are being dealt with. Do you want an early election too. Grow up UDP

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ah but quick enough to get on Rooster in the mornings with sycophantic yes men though.

    • Anonymous says:

      We need a leader who is not afraid of questions criticism and "pot. Shots".  More  broken promises.  Know anyone?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Alden has a professional journalist as his press secetary now and there is no way she would have advised him to make such an idiotic statement. Let's see: You hire capable, high-paid professionals to advise you and then you ignore them. XXXX

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is that what you’re there for? progress & transparency? We the people hired you to do a job & we want results!!! Gt voter

  13. Anonymous says:

    Another promise broken see page 28 in the PPM manifesto

  14. Anonymous says:

    Judging by the overwhelming negative reaction to Mr. McLaughlin's unfortunate (and really quite juveile) comment regarding why exactly he is refusing to open himself and his cabinet up to questioning by the press, I reckon he should reconsider. Truthfully, what a foolish thing to say.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Alden is power drunk. He feels that he is secure for 4 yeras by getiing Julianna and the 3 C4C candidates to join govt thereby killing the opposition. Remeber the population of voters cannot be silenced. Why are you running from uncomfy questions? Do you or PPM have a single original idea other than kissing up to the Civil service and the UK?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Alden needs to rember that he got in by the skin of his teeth and the tail of Kirk Tibbetts……

    Just need a handful of Kirk Supporters to drop him and he is gone……….

    Short memory short memory

  17. Anonymous says:

    Marco for Premier!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Alden you will pay for this. People in Cayman have been fooled for way too long.We know what PPM is upto – the business houses and PPm supporters that are being catered to at the expense of others. you just confirmed you are a career politician with no idea- look for another job in3 years time. We also know why you are resisting OMOV- if this govt. falls or there is a byelection it will be on the old system not OMOV. You wan to wait till the last moment to campaign and say look I promised omov and here it is.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Historically the press has taken pt shots because the leaders were not transparent and open and disrespected the press.  Mac was and is famous for this.

    Alden has the chance to change this but is choosing not to.   As long as he takes this stand he can not expect any better form the press.

    We voted for a more open government.  Time for the progressives to come through.

  20. Anonymous says:

    A year ago when everyone was screaming holy hell at the UDP and saying that the PPM was the salvation to Cayman I predicted that the same people would hate them just as much. This is just the beginning, Alden got into office based on a 4 years long Anti-UDP, Anti-Bush Campaign where all he did as the opposition was bash Bush while offering no alternatives to his ideas and plans. Now the he’s gotten onto the saddle people are starting to realize that he has no idea what to do, most likely because he was more focused on Bush-Bashing then he was on what was best for Cayman as a whole. Hopefully after the next election Cayman will see a complete changing of the faces in its leadership. Time to put an end to Party Politics.  

     

    I do still believe that the whole Bush-Bashing Campaign was a conspiracy to get to get him out of office because he actually stood up to the UK marauders and they like puppet politicians. Alden along with the UK and their RCIPS Puppets were key players, where’s all their investigation now? Shoved under the carpet because they accomplished what they really wanted and that was to soil Bushes name, if there was any merit to them they would have acted on them. Not saying that Bush was thebest, but he did get a lot of things started that we will benefit from. People like to say that he left the country in a mess, but how soon we all forget it was the PPM that nearly bankrupted us and put us in so much debt with their massive spending which caused the UK to shut down Caymans right to borrow money. Don’t just blame one, blame them both, they basically ran the county for nearly the past two decades taking turns at bat.

    • Anonymous says:

      Conspiracy to get Bush out? Are you mad? Even a blind man could see meglomanical traits in our former leader and he has been charged with some serious crimes. OK, he is innocent until proven guilty, XXXX

      • Anonymous says:

        You are correct everyone is inocent until proven quilt, so they should bring on the court, instead of just letting the charges linger. The longer they delay the more it sounds like BS to me. I also understand your comment about meglomanical traits, and agree with you. He did like things to get done his way or the highway, But he was starting to get things done.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Odd this has come up in the week it looks like Alden is parking OMOV.

    Report "Why are you not implementing OMOV?"

    Alden "Because I am in power now and I like things the way the are".

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yes…classic, a politician who does not want to stand up in front of the press because they might ask him tricky questions and show how inefficent they are?? (doesn't matter if it is this lot or the last lot or the next lot). ACCOUNTABILITY- Expalin what you are doing and raise healthy debate..good grief, in most other countries you cannot keep politcos out of the press..here, they don't want to be seen. Very dangerous for Transparency and Integrity. And if he really said that, a stupid statement.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Big Mac Jr. ahh boy, next time lets vote out these career politicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      next time?? we had a capable slate to chose from in 2013 and still couldnt get it right.  

  23. Anonymous says:

    Oh, dear. "Pot shots"? What an unfortunate choice of words for the premier of the country, of all people, to use. I don't believe he could get most of the public to agree with him on that one. Watching those elected to serve us being closely questioned by the press on our behalf is entirely in the best interests of the public and the country as a whole, surely. And since when has ducking questions, which is patently what these elected employees are doing by this move, been wildly popular with those of us who hold them accountable to the public? Mr.McLaughlin, surely you weaken yourself in the public's eyes, sir. Better reconsider (and also run future choices of words by your advisers, yes?). Good man.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Round 4: Mckeeva wins this one too. Looks a knockout is looming.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, it's pretty bad when Mac can win rounds and he's not even in the ring. Alden is just punching himself in the face.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or shooting himself in the foot, which he has a propensity to do historically. But I must admit your analogy is funny and gave me a chuckle as I pictured a one-contestant boxing match with Alden pummelling himself on the ropes. Thanks!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Wow the more things change, the more they stay the same…. SHAME ON YOU PPM!!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Alden, would you like some cheese with your whine?

  27. Whodatis says:

    Lol, I know McKeeva is having a good belly-roll laughing fit right now!!

    You wanted the job Alden – the shoe is now on the other foot.

    Ya' corns burnin' now a'wha?!

    All jokes aside, there is some merit to his complaints – as there was to Mac's at the time as well.

    The media plays a role in forming the opinion and perspective of the masses and it is not always favorable to the elected officials in question. This is the case in every country.

    Unfortunately however, this latest development seems to be yet another example of us having ended up with the same ol' type of government, doesn't it?

    Whatever happened to the bright, shiny promises of; doing things in a new way, transparency, addressing the voting system, short-term unemployment, costs of living, etc. I am not saying that nothing has been achieved, but there is much the PPM / CIG could improve upon.

    • Anonymous says:

      A free press is there to expose the excesses of government and balance the politicians spinning with the facts, or even to point to the lack of facts or transparency. If they don't like it, they should get out of the kitchen, it comes with the turf.

    • The Seeker says:

      I thought it was well known to all that the PPM/Progressives are, have been and will always be the greatest spin and slogan carrying doctors the country has ever seen. That's a fact that's what the majority of them ate good at, even crying on media.

       

  28. Anonymous says:

    He must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed today… Come on Alden.

  29. Anonymous says:
    $ame $hit different day $ame aldin 
     
  30. Anonymous says:

    This is the same arrogance we have grown accustomed to from Alden McLaughlin he can't change.  The attitude will get worst and he will sound like Big Mac no longer answerable to anybody

  31. Anonymous says:
    Not being McKeeva might have got Alden elected Premier, but that is not enough to keep him there at the next election
     
  32. Anonymous says:

    Poor thing Alden is killing himself and ppm every time he speaks so we cannot blame him for not wanting to be asked questions. More proof that a manifesto is just a list of promises written on glossy paper.

    • Anonymous says:

      Indeed, I've long imagined there to be a rope and pulley contraption connecting poor Alden's foot to his mouth. Every time he opens his cake-hole (U.S. pie-hole) he manages to activate the thing. So I agree, it's understandable he wants to duck awkward questions, or indeed any questions, from the press.

  33. Anonymous says:

    The phrase 'running scared' comes to mind here. This is an unhealthy attitude.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Pot shots?

    Allen must be in election mode already. Focus on running the country and being transparent.

    • Anonymous says:

      That's always been the problem – he can't. All he knows how to do well iscriticise McKeeva (not difficult to do) and talk about what's wrong. When he tries to come up with answers we get things like the schools debacle. The sooner voters send him in to retirement with the other career politicians, the better.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Allen – you know better!

  36. Anonymous says:

    If you can't take the heat….take a cooking class and get out of the wqy of people who have the ideas and know how to make the necessary changes.

  37. Anonymous says:

    keep up the pressure on alden…..he's starting to crack……. his fraudulaent administration is being exposed on a daily basis……..