The Sunday Times columnist Michela Spiteri has demanded a Right of Reply to the article by The Shift entitled ‘The Real War on Truth’. It is being reproduced in full below, according to our obligations under the Press Act:
“I refer to your article “The Real War on Truth” published on the 13th November 2017.
The article contains a number of false statements, malicious insinuations and misrepresentations which are not befitting of a portal which is touted as being “a principled media outlet”.
The spiteful insinuation being made throughout your article is that I am part of an organised system made up of “columnists” and “internet trolls” paid to “spin facts to alter perception in favour of the government”. You cite my legitimate engagements and appointments in an attempt to shore up your baseless claims.
A simple phone call would have clarified the facts.
– My post on the Valletta Rehabilitation Committee was not a paid one. I have not been paid a cent for my contribution on this committee – unlike other persons who have suckled greedily at the teat of state while being employed in ministerial secretariats.
– I am an adjudicator on the Small Claims Tribunal in Gozo. It was an appointment which I have refused on 2 occasions, and which I then accepted last March. For this I am paid the princely sum of 50 Euros per judgement. I am not paid for presiding over hearings which often take up whole mornings which could have been directed towards more lucrative work.
At the moment I preside over the grand total of 25 cases. For these I will ultimately be paid the sum of 1250 Euros. Do you begrudge me this payment? Were you similarly enraged when other adjudicators were appointed? Did you rush to your key board in righteous indignation when adjudicators with Nationalist leanings were appointed? Would you prefer to fire all those free-thinkers who don’t agree with your opinion?
– You write that I was “exposed” as working for the Office of the Prime Minister and that I am on the “government payroll”. You make it sound very sinister. The truth is rather more humdrum. I am a freelance translator and accept work in this field. After being engaged by the Nationalist administration to carry out proof-reading work, I was also engaged by the present administration on a few instances to translate certain texts. I do not create the content, I translate it. I fail to see why this is an issue now. Did you ever rush to print with condemnatory articles when I was providing services for the PN government? Why not?
Your article is entitled “The Real War on Truth“. In reality, it is a thinly disguised hatchet-job on someone who does not share all your views. Worse than that, it is based on incorrect and selective reporting and malicious spin. If this is the future of journalism and the “shift” that you claim to bring about, it is a depressing one where freedom of expression is silenced by the catcalls of the misinformed, the parisan and the tribal.”
The original article written by The Shift reacting to her column, ‘They Doth Protest too Much’ did not carry the kind of attacks that Spiteri has made on this news portal, yet she accuses us of “silencing freedom of expression”. We have not changed a word or a comma or a spelling mistake in all she said.
We stand by what we said in ‘The Real War on Truth’. The article laid out facts and put them in context. For the sake of accuracy, we also remind Spiteri that, yes, we were there under different Nationalist administrations doing what we do now – holding power to account.
We are publishing below her appointment (backdated) in the Government Gazette, since Spiteri accused us of making “false statements”. Spiteri neglected to mention her appointment as Consumer Claims Chair, which is not the same as her appointment on the Small Claims Tribunal.