Iosif Galea was extradited to Germany by Italian authorities. Galea had been allowed to travel on holiday with Joseph Muscat by Malta’s police despite a European Arrest warrant having been issued against him. Our police force had been reminded three times by the German police to arrest him. They didn’t.
When Galea foolishly joined Joseph Muscat on a trip to Brindisi, the Italian police did what Malta’s police should have done months before – they arrested Galea, who arrogantly thought his impunity extended beyond Malta’s shores.
Through his contacts, Prof. Arnold Cassola found that Galea had been extradited to Germany and published a statement. Public Broadcasting Services completely ignored Cassola and his statement. It failed to report on Iosif Galea’s extradition in the same way that our police failed to arrest him.
Cassola’s information was, of course, correct. Galea had indeed been extradited to Germany. Since then, Galea’s been found guilty of a serious crime and has been jailed, in Germany, for 30 months. PBS hasn’t reported that either.
PBS, in true form, was doing the government’s bidding. It was hiding the truth from the people. It failed to inform the public about issues of public interest. It was actively suppressing the truth – because the truth inconvenienced Labour. That is shocking enough. But it’s what’s expected from TVM, whose head of news is Labour apologist Norma Saliba.
What is even more shocking, however, is how the Broadcasting Authority responded to Cassola’s complaint about TVM’s failure to report his statement on Iosif Galea. Cassola accused PBS of failing to report the news that Galea had been extradited to Germany. Cassola was accusing PBS of hiding the truth.
The Broadcasting Authority’s decision was as dismissive as it was short. It failed to analyse the serious issues it had been presented with. It barely scratched the surface. Its decision barely filled an A4 sheet. Its ruling consists of two sentences, literally two sentences – as in grammatical, not judicial.
In the first sentence, it confirmed that PBS failed to report Cassola’s statement. The second sentence reads: “Editorial discretion is in the hands of the station, and [the BA] understands that in cases like these, it sticks to official statements and sources”.
What does the Broadcasting Authority mean by “in cases like these”? Is it referring to cases in which Labour’s protégés are involved in serious crimes the party wants to hide? Is it referring to individuals who happen to be close friends of Joseph Muscat?
Or is it simply that those who are travelling with the disgraced former prime minister should be left to enjoy their privacy even if they have committed serious crimes? Is it referring to “special” individuals to whom Labour has extended guaranteed impunity no matter what?
And what are official sources? Aren’t the German police an official source? Isn’t the Italian judiciary an official source? So why didn’t PBS publish Cassola’s statement about Iosif Galea?
The issue was certainly of public interest. This was an individual who had been actively protected by Malta’s police force. Despite a European Arrest warrant and three reminders from the German police, Malta’s police did nothing.
The truth only came to light when Galea was dramatically arrested in Italy while accompanying Joseph Muscat on holiday. Malta’s police then conducted their own internal investigation, adamantly refusing a public inquiry or at least an independent inquiry. That investigation reached the pathetic conclusion that administrative errors were behind Iosif Galea’s police protection.
PBS’s refusal to report Cassola’s statement was part of a coordinated effort to protect Iosif Galea. Cassola’s statement and the information he provided were true. If PBS was not convinced of that, its journalists could have easily checked with the German police – the “official sources”, as the Broadcasting Authority put it.
But for PBS and the Broadcasting Authority, “official sources” means Labour and its government. There is no doubt that PBS’s TVM is the government’s mouthpiece. But now the Broadcasting Authority has authorised PBS to be just that – a second official Labour propagandist channel, with its partisanship endorsed by the Broadcasting Authority itself.
The Broadcasting Authority is justifying PBS’s decision to only rely on one source: Labour, masked as “official sources”.
The BBC’s editorial guidelines on accuracy (3.3.4) specifically point out, “We should be reluctant to rely on a single source. We should check facts and statements and corroborate claims, we should gather material using first-hand sources.”
The Broadcasting Authority does the exact opposite. It condones and authorises PBS to rely on one single source – Labour. The first-hand sources in this story were the German police or the Italian judiciary. The secondary source was Arnold Cassola. But PBS conveniently ignored them all. Because it only reports “official sources” – i.e. Labour.
A news organisation that publishes only the ruling party’s statements is not a newsroom, it’s the political party’s official channel.
The real story here is that PBS hid the truth from the people. It deceived the public. It covered up for a convicted criminal simply because he is close to Joseph Muscat and Labour. PBS failed its duty to inform the public.
By hiding the truth, it lied. One man, Arnold Cassola, challenged PBS’s lies. And the Broadcasting authority endorsed and justified PBS’s lies.
Telling the truth is not editorial discretion. Neither is lying and concealing the truth. But for the Broadcasting authority, PBS is well within its right to deceive the public, distort reality, hide the truth and protect criminals. For the Broadcasting Authority, lying is editorial discretion.
The Broadcasting Authority can be added to that long list of institutions that are working, for Labour.