Who’s after me?! Bin Laden’s granddaughter?! Griffith fires at media while Live Wire enjoys some banter

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith channeled his inner Mike Pence today as he repeated calls for a range of sanctions against ‘individuals of questionable repute’, during a rant at the media for airing alternate views from that of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).

“Sometimes we look after the rights of the criminals and not the rights of the 1.3 million law abiding citizens,” said Griffith, on the CNC3 Morning Brew. “[…] Is CNC3 the corporate communication unit for wrongdoing? Who’s after here [on the Morning Brew], Bin Laden’s granddaughter?!”

If CNC3 did snag an interview with Osama Bin Laden’s granddaughter, they would be in more illustrious company than Griffith might think. The UK Guardian interviewed Bin Laden’s mother, Alia Ghanem, after 9/11 and CNN was among the ‘free world’ media companies that republished lengthy excerpts of their chat.

Photo: Alia Ghanem, the mother of former al-Qaeda leader and terrorist Osama Bin Laden, poses next to a photograph of her son during an interview with the UK Guardian.
(Copyright UK Guardian)

That apart, exactly who are these ‘criminals’ that journalists are interviewing?

Griffith’s ‘advice’ to the media followed his criticism of the government for awarding construction and maintenance contracts to ‘gangsters’—which, he said, served to incentivise and even legitimatise their lawless behaviour.

The problem with that, though, is if the TTPS’ evidence of wrongdoing is insufficient to put these ‘criminals’ behind bars, why should it be sufficient to stop them from working and enjoying privileges of citizenship—such as, apparently, a sit down with Hema Ramkissoon?

So if the police don’t like you, the government could justifiably treat you like Nicolás Maduro?

Because, if a certain lawman has any say on Griffith’s list of persons with ‘questionable character’, all now poor Ruby’s husband might be toting water from a standpipe to bathe, reading by candlelight and sending text messages via carrier pigeon.

‘Mr Live Wire, this year is too much pressure. Can we just fast forward to 2020 already?’

It turns out that singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and buying a new calendar is not enough to escape past problems. People who were retrenched still ketching dey nenen. People without power still getting mamaguy by those with plenty.

And people who went to sleep chupid on Old Year’s Night wake up on New Year’s Day, look in the mirror and realise dey still named P*****p A*****der.

Photo: Oh gaddo…

Similarly, with the 2019 murder rate already on 72, there seems to be as much chance of Griffith curbing the bloodletting as there is of Finance Minister Colm Imbert being hit by a ceiling fan.

What’s that? Who’s height-est? But I have three short friends!

Well, maybe some things do change. West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago fast bowler Shannon Gabriel received a four match ban from the ICC, after asking England captain Joe Root whether he ‘likes boys’ during a heated exchange in their third Test match.

Gabriel apologised for the reference. But, in the alleyways of social media, there were howls of condemnation that the towering pacer faced any action at all; let alone such a lengthy ban.

Gabriel’s ‘picong’, you see, was only mildly homophobic.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Stop right there, Mr Live Wire, you mean we can’t give a man a little fatigue self?’ ‘But it’s sport; not real life—not so?’ ‘So you mean grown men and women can’t have a safe space nowhere to be mildly homophobic?!’

Presumably, across the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of thousands of football fans just perked up. You know, the lot who thought it was good banter to toss bananas on the pitch and make monkey noises when a player of colour got the ball, or sing about former Arsenal and Togo star Emmanuel Adebayor’s dad supposedly washing elephants for a living.

Photo: US president Donald Trump shares some ‘banter’ with a disabled reporter…

It’s just ‘kicks’, you see, to tell the ‘Chinee boy’ in class to wake up when you know his eyes are wide open, or to ask the Indian boy if he keeps the gramoxone in the fridge. But suppose one of them offered the ‘Afro’ boy a riddle to solve: What do you call a black abortion clinic? Crime stoppers.

Well. Eh…

Joke for school boy, as they say, is death for crapaud. So maybe a good starting point on the topic of what is or isn’t acceptable behaviour or language, is to admit that we don’t have all the answers—and if your code of conduct existed before cigarettes had health warnings, it might be time for an upgrade.

And speaking of anachronistic. Here was Griffith declaring martial law on the media.

“This is a war out there,” the CoP told Ramkissoon. “We have a country to defend; it is not a matter of balance [in reporting]… This is a situation of good versus evil.”

The first casualty of war, according to a late American Senator Hiram Johnson, is the truth. Nobody seems to mind, for instance, when the media—without offering a shred of evidence—flippantly recites the line that a murder victim was ‘known to the police’, as a way of suggesting that his killing was not one to lose any sleep over.

If ‘gangsters’ are exploiting the media as a propaganda tool, they are far from the only ones.

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.
(Copyright TTPS)

And caught between the soaring murder rate, disinterested politicians, self-interested union leaders, heartless capitalists and weakened media is the common man and woman, just trying to make a respectable living for themselves and their families.

It is like balancing on top of your cooler, in the middle of a fete, when Mr Killa takes the mic…


Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) statement on Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith’s criticism of the press on CNC3.

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  1. To say that the media gives disproportionate time to ‘criminals’ is ridiculous.
    There might be no lawman in history that has been as quoted in the press as often as the current Police Commissioner.
    And who are these ‘criminals’ on the media that people are referring to anyway?

    • Lasana Liburd this was concerning one case. You can’t make sweeping judgements on statements made from one case.

      Of course the media has every right to give loads of attention to anything it wants but we need to stay in the context of this case and also, it’s timing.

      As I said, the media is misjudging when to do what. Reporting is different to holding interviews.

      It has a right to do a 60 minute program or Hard Talk interviews with all the criminals and non-criminals to its heart‘s content to serve public curiosity ad nauseum, no one is against that.

      To say you want to interview how a police target/s felt and his/her/their personal opinions after a raid is just seeking drama.

      They are free to do it after every drug bust you know, everyone is free to do what they want once it’s lawful. That doesn’t make it sensible, nor professional, nor admirable nor even proper.

      According to what people seem to be up in arms about, I’m mystified why it’s not done to all the people who are subjects of police raids and drug busts.

      All that needs to be reported at that point in time is ‚the 5 great W’s – the Who, What, Why, Where, When‘ etc. Not a novel or drama series.

      At the end of each report, reference is usually made to other events leading up to that event, IF there were any. That last section is done for readers who are now getting up to date on any subject.

    • Linda if the police target was not charged then he has ever right to voice his complaint. Not so?
      The police’s job is to find evidence to lead to a charge and then a conviction. If they repeatedly “inconvenience” people and send them home with no charge to moan to the media… That doesn’t sound like the media is doing a bad job. It sounds like the police is doing a bad job/

    • Lasana Liburd the police could well be doing a bad job.

      Question: were these reports separated?

      Don’t worry I’ll check for myself. Get back to you.

    • Lasana I don’t know what garbage GG and the non-thinking minions are talking about. GG is destroying his goodwill by making these ridiculous comments. Everyone wants him to succeed because it benefits all of us. But we have become, unfortunately, a nation of non-thinkers. This is simply about people not taking the time to think.

    • Lasana Liburd ok, found the original interview with Burke and also CoP’s response (and CoP is correct!) Redress is to be sought by filing a report but let’s say he took it to the newspapers instead.

      I wouldn’t have given him the light of media attention. Why? If he got nowhere in his complaints (which I judge to be of no real worth), then he had recourse to turn to the media in trying to get attention to his case. It appears the media sought him out – why? Did they hear something? Did he make a phone call to a friend in the media?

      Up to now, I haven’t heard anything that I could say warranted all this attention. I explained that it is not unusual for police to find people in uncompromising situations.

      If the media wanted to go after mounting reports of bad policing, well that’s another matter. Thing is, I don’t see much evidence in this case and to make their case strong, they should have made this an investigative report and gathered a few cases well. These really should come from failed attempts by people to seek redress for the actions of police during any time, not just during raids anyway.

      So in fact, the media is seeking proof of malpractice and to me, not in a very professional way. It’s simply my opinion just as everyone else has their own. I would not have wasted media time doing this and yes, CoP is right, in so doing, at least in this case, you’re making an otherwise criminal person into a public figure of too much importance. We shouldn’t be feeding the wolf.

      Anyway ….

    • Linda Louison so when Gary Griffith was complaining about police fees for fetes just over a year ago when he wasn’t a Govt minister or police commissioner, you think the media should have refused to interview him and asked him to go through the channels of complaint instead?
      The media has always been that other place outside the courts that people can turn to when they are frustrated and be heard in the court of public opinion.

  2. February 19, 2019

    The Media Association executive is very encouraged following another meeting with Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. We are pleased to report, the Commissioner reached out following MATT’s statement on Monday and both parties welcomed a meeting of minds.

    During talks on Tuesday at Police Headquarters, the Commissioner was very open to hearing MATT’s concerns. He expressed support for media workers and said the fraternity has been instrumental in creating public awareness of police initiatives.

    However, the CoP also expressed concern that persons of interest to the police are often given too much exposure. He believes this only serves to raise their status in their communities and glorify them and their lawless activities. He noted while the media has a right to capture all views, he hopes media houses will be more circumspect about giving such exposure in the national interest.

    While MATT is completely open to the Commissioner’s concerns it was also pointed out to him that his use of language in recent days has created an atmosphere in which private citizens felt it was now their duty to unleash another wave of criticism on local media.

    Once the danger of making the media look like the enemy was pointed out to Mr. Griffith, he unreservedly showed understanding and pledged he would be more thoughtful in his choice of words when it comes to criticism of the media and media workers.

    Both parties agreed that the police service and the media are vital parts of our democracy and that mutual respect must prevail.

    The Media Association of T&T found these talks to be highly productive. We look forward to both the media fraternity and the Police Service continuing to work in the public’s interest.


  3. Oh? Did he bring a court order? Did he hold a gun to their heads?

    The media is mixing up matters. When the media interviews one party, they must get the full story from the other side.

    To do that, you’ll need a ‚60 Minutes T&T‘ program where people can listen in horror and try to determine who’s the guilty and abusing party.

    REPORTING on a bust does not constitute a 60 minutes examination of each detail of the event.

    The media must learn to differentiate between what’s ‚drama‘ and what’s reporting.

    Interviewing this person in such detail while also not giving the police equal time is DRAMA.

    It‘s not the first bust of any type that subfamily people in compromising positions. People are caught with their pants off on the toilet, people are caught having sex and all that.

    From the very dramatized article, one would think that the police ‚exposed‘ these females by demanding they open their legs.

    Throwing off covers to make sure that there’s no weapon lying beside people is normal.

    When the COP says ‚stop‘ talking to individuals of questionable repute, he’s not giving any ‚order‘.

    The use of words in such clever ways to make a typical situation into a crime is highly unethical.

    This man would have the courts to give his version on the events, it’s not the media’s business to lay that out on a table, also without getting detailed information from the other party, to initiate unfair and biased emotional responses from the public.

    When the COP himself would have to question his own men and get details and won’t be able to give the media an equal response, then NO details of either party‘s version of events should be printed. It is setting up PUBLIC BIAS which makes winning cases in the court far more difficult with a jury. Because the public is already biased and knows every detail of the supposed ‚victim‘ long before a case is called.

    It is when criminals win cases in court and get away with murder that a 60 minutes program is done to cover all details of the case and why this criminal got away scott free.

    So yeah the media is being highly irresponsible by doing what they are doing. They need to be reigned in by their superiors and of their superiors are not doing it, then the COP has every right to say that they should stop doing what they are doing.

    If the COP says ‚stop‘ any the media and the public are acting as though he got a court order to do this or has put a gun to your heads to say this, well I can say that they are also being highly irresponsible.


  4. If GG wants to inspire a little more respect he could stop the ‘man with the gun’ photos and quit the insults during interviews. He could even stop telling people what happened when he wasn’t there and let forensics and the Coroner do their job.

  5. All the best Gary. Totally support you.

  6. I was speechless and somewhat traumatized to hear some of the things Abu bakr said and is the second time around

  7. The media also talks to Politicians of questionable repute! Deviant Maraj for starters. CoP, stay focus and get on with the job at hand

    • Lasana Liburd the media tries to give all the players a fair chance.
      With every police killing in this country, the media prints the narrative of the police
      Police – “Police was shot at, they returned fire, bandit was pronounced dead on arrival” Then move on to the next story
      The Bandits – Residents heard loud shots, dead body was discovered lying on the ground
      So take it easy double G

    • Sherma Wilson it is only under authoritative regimes and police states that you are forced to hear only the Government’s account.

    • Sherma Wilson I’m sorry but that much attention is for a 60 minutes program like 60 minutes Australia and its only done with criminals who get off scott free of a usually blood curdling crime. Then 60 minutes would Interview back and forth between the two parties.

      This is not a drama novel, it’s not a Hollywood scene. Media isn’t supposed to be taking screenwriting potentials.

      Our miserable politicians are usually getting away scott free that’s why media listens to their side, just like 60 minutes

      The media can decide to start a 60 minutes drama program for these types of tear duct massaging scenes. ?

  8. Btw… did PEA get upgraded? You always used to type so many characters for his name?

  9. I’m just waiting for one of these public officials to directly call a media house “fake news”.
    Everybody always knows how other people should do their job, while struggling to be successful at their own.

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