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They killed a journalist and created a monster

Editor in Chief of Malta Today. Photo- Media Today Vimeo

You have to ask what motivates a man to lash out at a specific set of whistleblowers and journalists who happen to be the ones who are on the frontline in the battle for accountability for the corruption and crime this government has allowed to fester, damaging the country’s reputation in the process.

He calls himself a journalist and an editor. He’s also the go-to public relations man for the government and its police force. He’s also a political consultant for past and present politicians. In his daily routine, it’s ok to receive a call at 1am from the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri on the government’s priorities of the day.

He lies, even under oath. It is clearly an intentional and deliberate pattern of attacks against those who challenge the government, presumably to ingratiate himself with the elite he likes to despise.

“We are living in the midst of self-entitled brats who think they are unique and have the right to pontificate and hit out at a chosen few,” Balzan said on social media. It’s Orwellian.

Balzan has systematically hit out at activists, journalists and critics who insist on holding the government to account without fear or favour.

He was the one who coined the term “Queen of Bile” for journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was brutally assassinated, and he continues trying to discredit her beyond the grave. He called her a liar when she exposed his 1am phone call with the Prime Minister’s chief of staff – he quickly shut up when he understood she held the evidence.

For all his bold speech, Balzan really can’t be seen as anything better than a government puppet. What the government wants to see is journalists attacking each other on public platforms. Who benefits from this, except those in power? When journalists are at each others’ throats they can be discredited, fuelled by the regime’s propaganda machine on TV, print, radio and online. Balzan continues to serve that purpose while raking in the money.

Balzan is fluffing up his feathers, happy in the illusion that those government reports on his accusations are gaining ground while he digs a hole for democracy.

His most recent story on Times of Malta journalist Ivan Camilleri accusing him of being a ‘shoplifter’ is not an aberration. It’s part of a pattern.

Balzan has a record of creating evidence in his own office to suit his particular agenda, like he did when he attempted to frame MEP David Casa as a cocaine user and for “cooking his books” in the lead up to the European Parliament elections, attempting to ruin the chances of one of the Prime Minister’s harshest critics in Brussels. It fell flat on its face like most of his stories. 

In court this week, Balzan testified in a libel case against him filed by FIAU whistleblower Jonathan Ferris who has been denied protection despite his public announcements that he holds evidence of corruption at the highest levels of government. Balzan used the opportunity to continue tarnishing Ferris’ reputation and, more importantly, reinforcing the government’s line of a conspiracy.

Balzan accused Ferris, a top investigator, of “swallowing the Egrant lie, hook, line and sinker”. Nobody knows what evidence Ferris holds because he has been denied whistleblower status. And the Egrant inquiry was never published.

Either Balzan has seen information on the Egrant inquiry that he should not have seen, or he didn’t even bother because at the end of the day his job is to parrot the government line.

The courts have become Balzan’s theatre of the absurd. “He is speaking for an audience. He’s not answering my question,” Ferris’s lawyer, Joseph Zammit Maempel, said in court this week.

The government’s options are dwindling as more and more realise what it really is, so Balzan is really the only one left who they can easily use as ‘independent media’ for their dirty work. There are others, but at least there’s an editorial process they have to go through whereas Balzan is his own boss. He claims to have distanced himself from Malta Today’s operations and yet it’s the platform he continues to use for dodgy reports in his own name to attack government critics.

What a coincidence that the Prime Minister’s former Head of Communications, Kurt Farrugia, who was recently shifted to Malta Enterprise,  launched a tirade against Times of Malta journalist Ivan Camilleri for exposing his contract only a day before Balzan decided to launch his own puerile attack.

Balzan’s efforts are paying off. He’s now living the life he says he hates.  Yet he has the audacity to call others elites and privileged brats. Freud would have a field day with him.

The Times of Malta said today that it had spoken to both directors of the supermarket Balzan referred to in his article on Camilleri. The newspaper said it was convinced that “the incident in question was misconstrued by Malta Today’s managing editor Saviour Balzan”. It was nothing more than an innocent oversight by Camilleri at the cashier’s desk, the newspaper said.

Yet there was nothing innocent about what Balzan did, whether it was his report on Camilleri or the other journalists and whistleblowers he continues to attack to suit the government’s agenda.

“Well done, Saviour. You’re an example to all journalists: how NOT to do our jobs. You have taken an incident described by one of the owners as a mistake and have deliberately turned it into a malicious, mainly fictitious account,” the newspaper’s editor Mark Wood said.

“There is one thing far worse than getting the facts wrong: it’s getting the facts wrong deliberately.”

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