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A senior “journalist” at ONE News named Trischia Falzon describes herself as “a mental health activist and a student in the Faculty of Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta” whose greatest passion is traveling. She’s been to 36 countries, her bio tells us. She is also “a positive person who believes that everything happens for a reason”. It is reassuring to note that there is no shortage of profound positivity at ONE these days. You never know when you might need to speak to a positively delusional individual who sells lies for a living.

This positive propagandist, one who writes for a media outlet owned by a political party that makes mincemeat out of critics it openly identifies as enemies, published a hatchet job piece yesterday, presumably before clocking off for the day to book flight tickets for the 37th country on her list.

“Ħaten BFA jgħid li l-Laburisti huma l-inqas edukati fil-pajjiż”, the headline screams.

A screengrab from ONE’s website.

I will translate for the benefit (or perhaps, to the detriment) of my readers who do not understand Maltese: ‘Beppe Fenech Adami’s (BFA) brother-in-law says that Labour Party supporters are the least educated in the country’.

Our positive propagandist then goes off on a pathetic 200-word rant that attempts to subvert an elaborate, fact-driven piece written by Kevin Cassar, a respected vascular surgeon, newspaper columnist, and former electoral candidate on the Nationalist Party ticket.

In a nutshell, Cassar’s piece went to great lengths to hold these positive propagandists to account. These pseudo-journalists who burst forth from their cocoons at ONE and have completely infested the national broadcaster to boot played a crucial part in the process of brainwashing the general public with skewed narratives and false standards of positivity, Cassar writes, citing numerous examples to back up his claims.

At this point, it is important to point out that contrary to the propaganda channels of the Labour Party, Cassar’s writing is as surgical as his day-job. He is meticulous in his research and this is clearly reflected in the consistent way in which he hammers out solid, relevant, and widely-read articles week in, week out. I am not simply saying this out of appreciation for a fellow columnist whose work I admire, but also because it is relevant in the context of the hatchet job in question.

Back to our positive propagandist. While it may be tempting to do so when reading a summary of such abrasive garbage, it is not advised to hold your breath before reading the next paragraph as you may start going blue in the face by the time you are done.

In her pathetic attempt at taking a stab at Cassar, Falzon claims that Cassar set out to insult Labour Party supporters by publicly stating that the Labour Party is supported by the least-educated members of society, that the Nationalist Party has more support among people with tertiary education, that he attacked ONE’s “newsroom”, that Cassar “never recovered” from not being elected when he contested on behalf of the Nationalist Party, a garbled-up, vague reference to the surveys which Cassar infers from in his opinion piece (without citing the actual source), and more vague, twisted references to other articles which Cassar wrote (also without citing the source).

A very prolific amount of lies, efficiently packed into a relatively brief piece. If it weren’t so pathetic, it would almost be impressive.

This is, of course, in line with the exact same treatment that was reserved for Daphne Caruana Galizia and pretty much every other prominent individual who’s ever criticised the Labour Party. The featured photo of this article is meant to serve as a stark reminder of that – Cassar sent it to me when I reached out to him for comment about ONE’s latest attempt at discrediting him and his work. It is a screenshot of a ONE TV programme that portrayed Daphne as a witch.

When I asked him about his response to how ONE consistently makes it a point to bring up his familial link to Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami and the fact that he was not elected in the 2017 general elections, he emphasised that this type of hatchet job, should, above all else, be reported “as an attempt at personal intimidation and incitement to our international colleagues”.

“I am married to Maria who is Beppe’s sister. ONE uses the link as some kind of battering ram and a tool of incitement of hatred towards me and a means to attempt to discredit the factual and referenced information in my articles,” Cassar said in his response to my questions.

Frankly, though he muses that he is not even sure whether the article is worth responding to or not, he tells me that his electoral performance was “abysmal” and that “we should let Labour enjoy their schadenfreude”, pointing out that former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil had asked him to contest the election just days before it was held and that he didn’t expect otherwise since he was never directly involved nor was he ever a member of the Nationalist Party.

“The point is they are lying. I did not say that Labour supporters are the least educated in the country as the title of the article states. I simply quoted the result of the survey that says that Labour support is very strong amongst primary educated citizens and lowest amongst tertiary educated citizens,” he concluded, adding that he absolutely did not express any kind of insult towards Labour Party supporters.

In fact, I can add that not only it is obvious that he did not do so, but he actually framed his argument correctly when he said that ONE news, aided and abetted by their erstwhile colleagues at TVM, have in fact victimised their followers by providing them with a skewed narrative that fails to inform them about the dire issues which our country faces at the hands of their paymasters.

Let us not forget that the very way in which both ONE and NET operate is still the subject of ongoing court proceedings initiated by Lovin Malta, who sought to challenge a constitutional provision which political party stations have been abusing to abdicate their duty to portray a factual, objective version of events.

One of the most horrifying traits of ONE’s propaganda operations in particular is the way in which its agents simultaneously weaponise their outlets to brand dissidents as negative, horrible people while claiming that they are positive, an old trick from disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s playbook.

The fact that this tactic is still regularly being used today, a few months after we commemorated the sixth anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s brutal assassination, a murder which was directly linked with criminal impunity fostered by the Labour government, is beyond disgraceful.

So close to the end of a year in which humanity has faced more crises than anyone cares to count, this hatchet job piece is a horrible reminder of the fact that the government is intent on doubling down on its reign of terror without any remorse or signs of slowing down.

There is absolutely no consideration for the reams of recommendations, legislative proposals, and parliamentary motions that were drafted with the sole purpose of ensuring that we can effectively address the deep-rooted corruption which played a key role in enabling Daphne’s assassination.

Have a wonderful (state-mandated) Christmas.

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