Propagandist in chief

Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.

A video of the government-appointed PBS chairman was uploaded by a Malta Today journalist. The PBS chairman was clearly unwell, hanging on to the railings with both arms, leaning dangerously.  At one point the chairman fell onto his face, swinging by his arm and then falling violently onto his back. As he lay with his arms outstretched clearly stuporous on the floor, people rushed to assist him.

Disregarding the danger that man was in, two individuals kept filming him rather than providing assistance. One of those filming was so close that the chairman’s identity badge was clearly legible.

That PBS chairman was Joe Mizzi.  His erratic behaviour and unsteady gait were the result of a spiked drink.  Mizzi was humiliated by the journalist’s accusations of drunkenness and by her publication of the embarrassing videos. He resigned immediately. That was May 2011.  The journalist who uploaded that video is Julia Farrugia Portelli, Minister for Inclusion, Voluntary Organisations and Consumer Rights.

Mizzi alleged he had been set up by somebody intent on causing him harm.  A Maltese man could be heard swearing on the video uploaded by Farrugia Portelli. When she realised the voice could easily be recognised, she removed the sound. Daphne Caruana Galizia in her post dated 23 August 2011 identified the swearing man, whom Mizzi accused of orchestrating the whole frame-up, as Edward Montebello.

Montebello has now been chosen by Prime Minister Robert Abela as his communications chief.

The journalists’ ethics commission had “strongly censured editor Julia Farrugia” over the story. And Joseph Mizzi was reinstated as PBS chairman once the true sequence of events surfaced. Montebello never denied Caruana Galizia’s and Mizzi’s accusations.

Since then Montebello has continued distorting the truth and fabricating stories as a journalist and then Head of ONE news.

In August 2021, when a prisoner spoke anonymously to the media about the terrible conditions in prison, Montebello’s ONE falsely accused Jordan Azzopardi of being the mole. Montebello maliciously exposed the wrong man. ONE’s spiteful headline read: ‘The PN media interviewed Malta’s El Chapo to discredit the good work in the prisons’. Montebello bragged that “the PN media kept the prisoner’s identity hidden but ONE news can confirm that it was the person considered to be Malta’s El Chapo who appeared on NET news”. Jordan Azzopardi’s photo was splashed on Montebello’s ONE.

In the process, Montebello earned the condemnation of the IGM (Institute of Maltese Journalists) for his unethical behaviour in attempting to expose journalists’ sources but also for irresponsibly and recklessly putting the life of the individual in danger.

Montebello knew exactly what he was doing. He was intimidating others from coming forward to reveal the shocking abuse inside Malta’s prisons. Montebello served as Labour’s henchman flushing out and punishing whistleblowers. Montebello sought to produce a chilling effect on future potential sources.

He was sending a clear message. You speak to the hostile media about Labour’s scandals at your own risk. We will get you, we will name you and we will shame you. You will pay the price. When journalists tried to contact Montebello for comments about his public chastisement, he failed to reply.

Months earlier, the Police Association lambasted ONE news for falsely reporting that their association had condemned the violence and “attack by Simon Busuttil’s people”.  The Police Association said it “deplored this type of report, in this case by ONE News, that can twist press statements for political gain”. The association categorically denied ONE’s report.  They had never mentioned former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil in their statement.  ONE simply made it up.

In November 2020, Montebello’s ONE reported on a court ruling that found those who held journalists in Castille, not guilty.  ONE commented that “the prosecution defended the journalists”.  The prosecution did no such thing. The prosecution was conducted by the police. The magistrate’s ruling actually criticised the police for failing to investigate the case properly, leading to the accused’s exoneration. But ONE distorted the ruling completely.

It attacked the IGM and mocked them for awarding prizes to journalists reporting on the events in Castille.  ONE ridiculed the free press commenting that the ruling was a “scolding of the media that calls itself independent”.

When reporting on Joseph Muscat’s and Zammit Lewis’ reaction to a story that they stayed in Yorgen Fenech’s Evian Les Bains Hilton in the French Alps free of charge, ONE didn’t even mention Yorgen Fenech. When Montebello was reported to the Broadcasting Authority over his distorted reporting, his defence was that “no media house publishes every single statement” and that “there was nothing factually incorrect in ONE’s report”. But there was plenty that ONE concealed from its audience.

That is what we can expect from Montebello – secrecy, half-truths, and attacks on the “media that calls itself independent”. And worse – completely fabricated stories.

I have personally experienced Montebello’s outrageous lies. In May 2021, the Broadcasting Authority found that Montebello’s ONE had lied in one of their many news items about me: “The report broadcast by ONE news of 1 March 2021 was in no way substantiated”. ONE claimed that I was one of the “most vociferous internally” within the PN and that I worked to make Bernard Grech the opposition leader at a time when I had absolutely no link or role in the party. Montebello simply invented the story.

Yet Montebello was handsomely rewarded for his dirty work. He headed a government agency – the Foundation for Tourism Zone Development – earning over €1,000 per month while simultaneously heading ONE news. The accounts of that foundation revealed its greatest expenses were €250,000 in wages and another €110,000 in undisclosed “staff expenses”. The agency was just a front.  If it carried out any maintenance its main expenses would be on materials, equipment, paint and tools. That foundation was just another excuse to pay Labour’s propagandists out of public coffers.

Now Robert Abela has given Montebello the ultimate reward – head of communications at the Office of the Prime Minister. Abela has chosen as his chief of communications a man ready to endanger the lives of vulnerable individuals with concocted stories.

He’s picked a man whose stories were condemned by the Malta Police Association, the IGM and the Broadcasting Authority. He’s chosen a fanatic with total disregard for journalistic ethics, utter contempt for the independent media and disdain for the truth. That says more about Abela than about Montebello.

                           
                               
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James
James
10 days ago

When the international agencies have the government in their crosshairs – thinking of the FATF, the E.U.’s EPPO, Venice and Moneyval Commissions, the U.S. State Department here as just some examples – clearly P.M. Abela needs extra help to distort the truth.

He has clearly chosen a trusted lieutenant, just like every other “ puppet” appointment of his, to ensure that he and his cronies can carry on with their malicious pillaging of the state coffers with impunity.

It is a shame that the P.M. didn’t study history rather than law at university because he would do well to remember the great U.S. leader Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words “ You can’t fool all of the people all of the time” , which seems to be a conclusion the international agencies are reaching regarding the P.M.’s and his appointed stooges’ mendacious statements.

Welcome to the gang Mr.Montebello…. your work will be cut out defending the indefensible despite your years of experience.

Albert Mamo
Albert Mamo
10 days ago

THIS INCOMPETENT CORRUPT LABOUR FASCIST REGIME EMPLOYING GANGSTERS TO HEAD THE TROLL BRIGADE. BOBBY AT HIS WORST!!!👎👎👎

Godfrey Leone Ganado
10 days ago

Any action taken by Mafia style PR agents, appointed by Labour Governments, is pre-planned, and always a prototype of Labour’s roadmaps, drawn in the Labour ‘war rooms’ in Castille, to specifically produce the equivalent of Putin’s war crimes in the independent journalistic world.
The Maltese sayings, ‘id-dnub ma’ jorqodtx’, and ‘iz-zejt jitla’ f’wicc l-ilma’, are always proven by the excellent and deeply researched articles of Kevin Cassar, thanks to the space given by Caroline Muscat in the Shift News.
I must thank Daphne Caruana Galizia, whose inspiration in her fight for justice, is building a generation of investigative journalists who have taken up for their motto, the words “speak the truth, even if your voice tembles”.
It is now our duty to make financing of the independent media, our top priority on our personal budget.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
6 days ago

BRILLIANT PROFESSOR. KEEP UP YOUR VERY GOOD WRITINGS.
I CONSIDER YOU A VERY GOOD SUBSTITUTE OF THE MURDERED
JOURNALIST, DCG.

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