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PM Lashes Out At The Media

SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has attacked the country's news media, claiming that it did not report "in depth" his statements on the controversial issue of power sharing in cabinet, according to news reports.

Both the Fiji Times on 16 May 2002 and Fiji Television on its national news the previous evening highlighted Qarase's attack on the media, particularly over Fiji TV's report on speculation on a possible snap election to break the country's political impasse.

The Fiji Times reported that Qarase said he had stressed his explanation of the issue at last week's annual congress of the Fiji Institute of Accountants, but this resulted in a "peculiar journalistic display where the editorial writer put out a contradictory statement".

"I have a right to expect that the media are well-informed and professional," Qarase said in Parliament.

The Prime Minister dedicated three pages of his speech to scrutinising Fiji TV, labelling it as the "eager beavers famous for its bias and spin".

"Impartiality and objectivity seem to be out of fashion at Fiji One, expecially when it comes to the business of government," he said.

"Many people in the community have the same feeling. The credibility of the reporting of Fiji One is a real issue," Qarase said.

He claimed the evening bulletin on May 12 was an example of misreporting and distortion because it contained statements and words that were "never said" and indicated prejudice against government.

"On Monday, a TV reporter bailed me up outside Parliament and asked me some poorly informed simplistic questions about whether I would work with [Labour leader] Chaudhry and a possible general election," he said.

"TV One is obviously trying to drum up speculation and comment to fit in with their need for a story for the bulletin. That is a well-known journalistic device."

The Fiji Times reported: "Passing himself off as open and responsive with the media, Mr Qarase said [Fiji] TV One news reporters had either read or decided to ignore the detailed statement he made at the congress meeting."



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