Saturday, December 28, 2013

Samoa News Continues to Deceive Public on Faleomavaega; credibility sinking

We had hoped our common sense prescriptions on how to handle questionable statements emanating from the office of Delegate Faleomavaega would have proved persuasive to Samoa News but apparently not, as they again have persisted in engaging in a deception about Faleomavaega’s physical condition.  As a result, the paper is losing more and more credibility with the public, but as really the only general advertising vehicle on island, they may not much care. 

Samoa News published three articles over its Friday and Saturday issues that speak to the point.  In a story about Senate passage of the Omnibus Territories bill, a piece of legislation that contains provisions authored by Faleomavaega last summer,  Samoa News, under a headline that read “Full U.S. Senate set to vote on Omnibus bill which affects territories,” the writer, identified only as “Samoa News staff,” said “After the bill passed the Senate committee Cong. Faleomavaega's office issued a statement saying the congressman would keep the people of American Samoa updated as the bill moves forward.”

What is deceptive here, of course, is that the headline leads the reader to believe the Senate just passed the bill (otherwise why would this be news?) and that the delegate was on top of the situation, even though the writer concedes that the bill passed more than a week ago.   When an on-line reader recently commented on a letter to the editor on the health issue calling the paper on its tactics, the webmaster responded “In any release run from Eni's office since his illness, Samoa News says, there is still no official word on his health and that the media release came from his office staff.” 

Clearly that is not the case here.  There is absolutely no mention of his illness.  The article says the bill will be taken up by the full Senate when it returns to session after the holidays and that Faleomavaega will keep the people updated on its progress.  If Samoa News cannot see how deceptive their article is, then there really is no hope that their integrity can be restored.

Two other articles are noticeable by their silence on Faleomavaega altogether.   A Friday story headlined “Food stamp benefits to be reduced by 13% next month” speaks for itself.  But surely Samoa News cannot have forgotten that it was Faleomavaega who introduced the program into the territory over the objections of ASG at the time.  Can this cut be restored?  What is Faleomavaega’s position on the issue?  Is he well enough to fight for restoration?  These all are questions Samoa News should be asking.

A third story appeared in today’s issue.  It is headlined “Citizenship lawsuit appeal takes on new twist” and speaks of one or more distinguished law professors who want to intervene in the case on behalf of the plaintiffs.  This case has such serious potential ramifications for the territory that Faleomavaega himself filed a friend of the court brief before he took ill.  What does this new twist mean?  Surely this again is a question that should be put to the delegate and readers should be told if he is or is not in a position to address the issue.

Issues such as these: Omnibus territories bill, Citizenship lawsuit and food stamp reductions are all in the purview of the delegate and Samoa News shirks its duty to its readers by ignoring his role or deceiving us on the state of his ability to look after our interests.

Let us be crystal clear here.  We are not seeking the removal of the delegate from office or for him to step aside early.  Nor do we need to be told specifically what is wrong with him.  However, the public needs to know how American Samoa’s issues in Washington are being addressed if he does have some lengthy illness that will keep him sidelined for any length of time.  These issues are not going to wait for his rehabilitation.

We do not blame him, especially if he is too ill to even issue any instructions to his staff.  But we do hold his office accountable and condemn Samoa News for participating in any charade.


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