Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hawaii Free Press Exposes Media Cover up of Faleomavaega Health

In a by-lined article in the Hawaii Free Press, HFP Editor Andrew Walden has accused major American Samoa media outlets of covering up the fact that the territory's Congressional Delegate, Eni Faleomavaega, has been sidelined from duty for the past two months. Citing stories carried by both Radio KHJ-FM and Samoa News that imply the delegate has been carrying out his duties in routine fashion, Walden says "Samoa News and Talanei [the KHJ news website] have been pretending Faleomavaega was in Washington DC doing his job by repeating phony Congressional news releases as if they were independent news stories."

Walden had particularly strong words for Radio KHJ-FM news anchor Monica Miller, accusing her of actively participating in a cover up of Faleomavaega's whereabouts while denying that was true in an interview with Radio Australia. "Miller unwittingly proved the opposite," wrote Walden. "By revealing the Delegate's current location in Utah, not Washington, DC -- Miller demonstrated that Talanei and i[t]s affiliated radio station KHJ-FM have been withholding information from their readers and listeners." Miller told Radio Australia that she understood the delegate is "convalescing in Utah at his home" but apparently had not previously aired or published that information.

Walden seemed a bit offended by Miller's assertion on Radio Australia that "the Hawaii Free Press, they call themselves investigative reporters, but they don't really do much investigating."  Judging from what Walden has written on this story, he has done quite a bit of investigative research and has unearthed some information that was unknown even to this blog, which has concentrated on this story. Had she done even a quick Google search on Walden's background, she would have found that the Daily Kos, a well known left-wing blog, describes the HFP editor as "also a columnist for FrontPage, and [who] has authored numerous exposés of corruption by Hawaii politicians, activists, and business figures." Readers interested to learn more about Walden's skills can review them in this November, 2010 post-election interview on the Peter Kay Show. The local mainstream media can feel free to continue to ignore our little blog but if they want to take on Andrew Walden, who is well connected into the national political blogosphere, they better be prepared to play in a whole different league.

That goes for anyone who the American Samoa Democratic Party might put up to defend the decision to keep up a news blackout on Faleomavaega's health. To two such efforts, Walden responded: "Samoa News elects to print a December 13 letter to the editor from Phillip Swett. A Newport, Oregon resident who identifies himself as a long-time crony of Faleomavaega, Swett implicitly threatens the life of the anonymous author of the ABCDEFG Blog--which has contributed its reporting to Swett writes: 'I am violently annoyed that some 'allegedly anonymous' site is criticizing him during his time of suffering. What low-down, self-serving, nasty person would stoop that low? Shame, shame on them and may God have no mercy on their souls.' On December 17, a former Faleomavaega staffer, Line'-Noue Memea Kruse, chimes in with her support for Swett's letter. American Samoans not connected to Faleomavaega's political machine have a different view. Tellingly, they are also a lot less likely to identify themselves."

Of course, Samoa News disingenuously ran the letters without comment (or opposing view points) knowing full well we have not criticized Faleomavaega at all but only the so-far-successful efforts of his staff and the media to keep a lid on his health situation. "Allegedly anonymous" website, Mr. Swett? Hardly. We are decidedly anonymous. Is it any wonder ABCDEF Group members prefer to shield our identities? So that the truth can be told without fear of violence or any other form of retribution.

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