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On Saturday, I published a column about how the European Union and its political machinery, embroiled as it is in the throes of one geopolitical crisis after the other, is buckling under the pressure of its own, compromise driven iniquity and steadily losing sight of its own singular, most defining feature: its privileged status as an avant-garde space for democracy to flourish.

I argued that for Europe to preserve this rapidly shrinking line of diplomatic credit it has with both its own citizens and the rest of the world, it must zealously safeguard human rights, even if it comes at the cost of a bureaucrat’s career every now and then. Whatever incremental changes any career politician believes they can make in the long term by ducking their heads down and preserving their positions of power pale in comparison to the changes that are needed for the European project to remain relevant.

While the relatively solid foundations of the European Union tremble as the ground is rattled by the sound of war machinery, judging from how the major political parties of the country kept themselves occupied over the weekend, the foundations of our domestic politics look like they were built with alternating layers of jelly rolls and karta pesta.

While Europol experts are being dragged through court in the ongoing case against alleged murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech and the country woke up to what seems to be yet another femicide, the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party are busy keeping up their tradition of being at each other’s throats.

While the Sliema murder of 43-year-old Colombian Sandra Ramirez dominates the headlines of the independent press and Fenech’s sneering mug does its rounds, ONE News’ leading headline at around 5pm was ‘as we revealed: Bernard Grech does not touch Karol Aquilina and BFA’, BFA being their designated abbreviation for Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami.

As per the usual, it was an article littered with the usual sneering commentary from ONE News’ crackpot team of propagandists, laced with the typically childish tactics that the outlet is so fond of (like the use of photos which were obviously taken from a bad angle purely to make the target of the story look bad).

Briefly explained, ONE News’ incredible scoop, which I’m sure elicited a lot of pats on the back and cries of “ara x’għamilnielhom ħi!”, amounts to “confirming” that Bernard Grech did not manage to dislodge Fenech Adami and Aquilina from their posts, presumably to help prime minister Robert Abela get over the unmitigated disaster of claiming he’s “renewed” the administration with new faces while pretty much preserving the entire status quo more or less as it was before this pathetic reshuffle commenced.

Hilariously, in the original story which announced The Great Scoop, ONE News actually had the audacity to complain about the lack of independent media present at the PN’s headquarters which, it claims, “chose to not attend to follow developments on site”.

“This is not the first time that independent media ignored important developments in the Nationalist Party. Another instance was the press conference that Bernard Grech gave after he finished his budget speech,” the propaganda piece opines.

It is, first of all, hilarious to see how they are forced to refer to media outlets as independent media outlets, something which none of the propagandists who work at ONE News could ever claim for themselves. In general, it really is nothing short of incredulous to witness a propaganda outlet with the worst selective bias on the entire market pretend it is entitled to making judgement calls about what other outlets choose to prioritise in their coverage. This is besides the fact that today’s news cycle has been clearly dominated by other developments and quite frankly, the reshuffle of the opposition’s shadow ministries is simply not as important as a reshuffle within Cabinet itself.

Casting the audacity aside for a brief minute, the main reason why I chose to dedicate today’s column to this subject is precisely because this kind of ‘story’ is ONE News’ bread and butter. It is the kind of hit piece that the outlet (I refuse to call it a news outlet when it really isn’t) thrives on and is built for. It is all their propagandists are trained to do and they excel at fomenting hate and discord with these kinds of pieces.

It is precisely for this reason that it is absolutely unconscionable that three of the biggest independent news outlets in the country – the Times of Malta, Malta Today, and The Malta Independent – chose to align themselves with the Labour Party’s propaganda outlets when they decided to form the so-called Association of Media Owners.

In light of this extremely worrying development (you can read my take on why this is such a worrying development by clicking the link in the paragraph above), I’d like to publicly announce that I’ve sent questions to all three chief editors of the above-mentioned outlets to ask them about what their official editorial stance on the matter is. I sent my questions late Friday afternoon and set a deadline for 19 January.

I am announcing this publicly with the intent of making it clear that I am following up on this matter and that I will not let go of it until I get an answer. The public has a right to know what kind of deals are being made between this association and the government, which is clearly using its financial muscle to squeeze the independent press while the press freedom climate for everyone deteriorates exponentially.

I, for one, categorically declare that this association does not in any way, shape, or form represent my interests as an independent operator in this sector.

Opacity within the free press is the biggest threat we face, and I’ll be damned if I sit idly by and watch it happen, especially after spending so much time building my own platform with my own blood, sweat, and tears instead of depending on handouts from a mafia state.

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