Now this one was for Mario

It is also common knowledge that the de Marcos have been targeted for ages by the blogger from Bidnija

If ever there was a time for genuine journalists to come together and defend their patch it has to be now. And when I refer to journalists I specifically am not referring to the bile blogger. 

I am sure everyone will agree that there is no special relationship between MaltaToday and The Times.  

But I guess there is some mutual respect now. And politically we are where we all are. MaltaToday is on the liberal and slightly more radical side, not a natural ally of the Nationalist party and ideologically uncomfortable with the Labour party’s new politics.  

The Times on the other hand has for long been comfortable with the Nationalist party, though lately there have been some serious attempts to take a middle of the road policy line. But it is nothing as blatant as has been portrayed.

Both media houses share a common commitment to serve the public interest and use journalism as a means to verify the truth. We both fail at times, but most of the time we do not.

On Friday The Times board (Allied Newspapers), chaired by business entrepreneur Louis Farrugia, decided to look into allegations that appeared on a blog. That was the first mistake. 

The allegations insinuated and suggested that someone at the top – obviously referring to Adrian Hillman, the managing director – was on the take due to the business relationship with the Kasco group of companies, and that this resulted in a biased approach by The Times before the 2013 elections, which it is assumed, influenced the electoral result.

That, of course, is the view of this one blogger.  

Unlike most other people, the bile blogger from Bidnija, who is contesting a €1.4 million claim for unpaid taxes and has managed to deviate all public attention from her uncertain fiscal status, has concocted this unproven line, not based on hard evidence, and managed to get a band of mature men to take her seriously.

If ever there was any witchcraft in play, it must have been on this occasion.

I have known many occasions in the past, when The Times did not take decisions that would have irritated or hurt the PN. I guess they were decisions that they were entitled to make. But no one called a board meeting about them which led to the managing director suspending himself.

Yesterday, the three editors at The Times denied that there was political interference by Hillman. They insisted they had editorial freedom. It was a reaction to the decision from their board.

So it comes as one great surprise that Louis Farrugia chose to bring this matter on the agenda and give credence to the blog and act on it. This is a blog with a reputation for lying, fomenting hate, inventing and replicating bile. It is scripted by someone who delights in associating innocent people to particular episodes and to inventing stories full of sexual innuendoes, and who incites division and hate. If the same stories were copied on a print or online version of either The Times or MaltaToday, we would be opening ourselves to a plethora of libel actions.

I know it, I have been there.  

Louis Farrugia should have known better. I cannot describe Farrugia as an ignoramus. We all know that he is not, and his friends are well known, I guess, as being upright and individuals of high integrity, and of course all Nationalists – some of them rabid and self centred in their political outlook. 

Now, and there is little bit of guessing here, Adrian Hillman is not only the managing director, he also has a strong affinity with Mario de Marco. The attack on Hillman is being interpreted as an attack on de Marco.

He is the PN deputy leader and perhaps he is seen as a threat by some: In the sense that if Simon Busuttil does not make it at the next election, de Marco could potentially be leadership material. He certainly would be very popular with the average voter. Far more than Simon Busuttil.

Others see it differently. They eye the future replacement for Simon as someone from the new up and coming, and if speculation should be taken seriously, I am referring here to Roberta Metsola, a favourite for the PN leadership in a post 2018 scenario.

We must all remember that Hillman’s association with The Times was as a result of the de Marcos, first with the late father, Guido, and now with his successor to the name. Indeed the attack on Hillman, who has suspended himself, is a direct attack on Mario de Marco.

It is also common knowledge that the de Marcos have been targeted for ages by the blogger from Bidnija. In some of the crudest of ways. Which is perhaps something which Farrugia may have forgotten when chairing the board meeting.

Indeed the worst attacks coincided with the usual concerns at Castille with the politics of Guido de Marco at the time. Because for those who think that there was no backstabbing before 2013, it should be said that the art of backstabbing was perfected at Castille from 1987 to 2004. 

Louis Farrugia in all his wisdom could have easily issued a strongly worded statement and left it at that. He should have consulted and then taken a decision.  

Instead, he has opened a Pandora’s box.

He decided to go further and now if you will allow me to say it, he did what he should not have done. Which was to give credence to a blog from hell, which is typical of the worst gutter journalism you can imagine, when he of all people should have distinguished between serious journalism that costs money and time from the established media, to that of a desperate woman sitting at her laptop with as much freedom to dish out any comment, observation or invention that crosses her mind or her subjective and self-conceited thoughts and prejudices.

The very sad thing is that she finds the comprehension of individuals of the intelligence of Louis Farrugia, who would appear to be usually a very level headed fellow but who seems to fall into the same trap of some in the privileged upper middle class in Malta who make this kind of verbal diarrhoea their bible talk.

At a time when newspapers need to get recognised and appreciated for what they are, the top guns at Malta’s largest media house give credence to a blogger who is intrinsically evil.

We are referring here to the same blogger who, in the 2013 post election report, co-authored by Rosette Thake, today the secretary general of the Nationalist party, was partly blamed for the rout inflicted by the Labour party at the polls.

There is little appreciation of the fact that this particular blog serves as a lantern for many, middle class English-speaking Nationalists. But there are tens of thousands of others who find her repulsive and despicable.

Louis Farrugia does not appear to be with the last category.

It is a pity. I would have expected better from someone who runs the largest media house in Malta and expects its clients to tell the difference between journalism, gossip and odium.