Someone sure doesn’t want Joseph Muscat’s resignation letter to come out.
You’d think a resignation letter would be pretty mundane. After all, the discredited public employee in question left his job four months ago.
But when news outlets — including The Shift — called for the document to be made public, it was as though someone had kicked a bee hive, or asked the former prime minister about Egrant.
The Labour Party troll farm came out in full force in an effort to discredit, distract, and deny to the public a document which would routinely be published in any other democratic country.
Pravda in the Med — the Party’s propaganda channel, One ‘news’ — obediently cranked up the message too, devoting an entire programme to attacking The Shift.
Unfortunately, some of these semi-literate diatribes backfired in an epic fail of poor attention to detail.
Just a basic lesson in genuine no holes barred truth finding journalism to @TheShiftNews: My challenge to @PNmalta MP @KarolAquilina. 1. Whom did you immediately seek within #Malta Parliament that same morning following your filmed incident with Police? 2. What did you ask for?
— Karl Stagno-Navarra (@ksnavarra) May 19, 2020
If you’re going to deliver lessons on journalism to professional writers, it’s best to nail down that whole proofreading and editing thing first. Leave ‘no holes barred’ to the former Minister of Brothels.
These frantic attacks and sleights of hand — whipping up a frenzy over a non-issue to distract the news cycle from Muscat’s letter — are only drawing attention to the obvious question.
Why the massive overreaction?
You do have a right to know why Muscat resigned with more than a year left in his term — especially given the circumstances of his unplanned departure.
The country was paralysed by daily protests, and the Office of the Prime Minister was implicated in the murder of a journalist investigating corruption within that very same ‘person of trust’ filled office.
A cosmetic change in leader didn’t make those issues go away.
Of course, no one expects this government that campaigned on a platform of ‘transparency’ and ‘meritocracy’ to actually be transparent or meritocratic. It was simply an error in English. They meant to campaign on ‘hypocrisy’.
This government of secrets routinely denies Freedom of Information requests on the flimsiest grounds, and refuses to comply and release the information even when they lose on appeal. “Answer to the people? Who do they think they are?”
They’ve managed to normalise an abnormal set of behaviours, and newsrooms are used to fighting for every document which should already be public.
But the grounds for refusing to release this one were strange even for this corruption-riddled regime.
The refusal came from the President himself. And the grounds he gave were distinctly odd.
He said publishing this letter would “have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of a public authority”.
In other words, it could disrupt the government’s ability to function. Sort of like those protests last November and December.
I wouldn’t expect to find a confession in that letter. Muscat has a long history of taking credit for anything remotely positive while deflecting all blame. ‘I have to shoulder responsibility, even for things I didn’t do’. Someone hand that martyr a box of tissues.
No, you won’t see The Man Who Used to Be Kink man up and accept responsibility for his disgraceful conduct. But there’s a pretty good chance his letter might contain a vindictive ‘poor me’ diatribe against Cabinet ministers who pushed him out to save their own skins, or some other dirt that could harm the Labour Party.
And what if there wasn’t any letter at all? The failure to write one would in itself send a message. An empty resignation letter would also look ridiculous internationally, given that Muscat was dragged kicking and screaming from office.
We won’t know until this letter is placed in public where it belongs. You have a right to read it. After all, the prime minister was a public employee. He worked for you, the taxpayer, even if he chased high office for the purpose of enriching himself and his friends.
Muscat left office with two contradictory narratives. He claimed he resigned to take responsibility for things that others had done. And he said he resigned on his own terms.
These things can’t both be true. But each story satisfies a different faction within the Party faithful.
Those who light a candle to Joseph can tell themselves he fell on his sword in noble sacrifice. And those who worshipped a pint-sized man’s colossal ego can pretend he left with some sort of dignity intact, rather than being driven out by the very people they despise.
Muscat’s resignation letter could ruin one or both of those stories if it were made public.
Whatever it contains, Labour is frantic to keep it from you.
And so they’ve pumped the pitchfork brigade full of bile, seeding their Party-controlled Facebook groups with messaging for them to parrot.
The mob is obediently attacking all the usual bogeymen that they’ve been told to see as their enemy: journalists including The Shift founder Caroline Muscat, Matthew Caruana Galizia, Opposition MPs Jason Azzopardi and Karol Aquilina, civil society activists, and anyone else who dares to demand that what should be public be made public.
The Labour Party’s online hate groups even revived an old TVM story of The Shift’s founder Caroline Muscat losing two libel cases against Patrick Dalli (husband of European Commissioner Helena Dalli – that was 2018, and both cases were won by the journalist on appeal. But why let the truth get in the way when you need to whip up hate against a target?
No one responds like this unless they feel their survival is being threatened.
They’ve clearly learned nothing from the brutal death of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Party turned its dehumanising propaganda machine against her for years, brainwashing people who had never read her into hating her, to the point where they celebrated her death.
That same machine is now working for ‘continuity candidate’ Robert Abela.
Muscat has been out of the spotlight, but he hasn’t gone away. Abela’s ‘consultant’ is already making efforts to whitewash his filth-encrusted reputation.
Keep your eye on that resignation letter. They’re desperate to hide something from you, and I have a feeling you’ll want to see what it is.