There’s an investigative television series in Jamaica called 18 Degrees North spearheaded by a tenacious former Bloomberg reporter named Zahra Burton. She’s brazen and a fearless truth seeker.
In the premier episode of her third broadcast season she did a highly controversial exposé on the nation’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness. This exercise would prove to her that Jamaica, land we love, does not hold the same freedoms as the land of free speech and free press where she learned what real journalism is. Where we come from, the person with political power is the law and he or she decides through intimidation tactics, if necessary, how much freedom the rest of us have.
The sprawling, multi-million dollar house Mr. Holness built on his public servant’s salary was brought into question prior to his election in 2015. He claimed that it was hard work, smart negotiation and business sense that built the home in question. But as detailed in Zahra’s program, other facts about his business dealings seemed questionable. She reported that several companies owned by Mr. Holness had received government contracts while he still held government office. During those years and on his government salary, Mr. Holness was reported to have purchased multiple private properties without taking a mortgage.
18 Degrees North says they never made any unsupported statements and they shared every step of their investigative process on camera. Had nothing nefarious been afoot, Mr. Holness should have been able to explain it all away.
Instead, like America’s Donald Trump, Mr. Holness sought to muzzle the media and discredit their work. While he is now months behind in producing his financial disclosures, which would have put these matters to rest long ago, he has threatened suit against the show and the broadcast station for defamation and libel. Due to his threats, the station declined to air the scheduled re-broadcast of the episode.
It is unfortunate that the folks who vie to lead our nations are so thin skinned. There will always be questions for our leaders and the bottom line is if you can’t take the heat, you probably don’t belong in the kitchen.
Calibe Thompson is a television producer and personality, public speaker and author. Watch her on ‘Island Origins’ Mon at 10:00PM and Tues, Thurs and Sat at 9:00PM on South Florida’s BECON-TV (Ch 63 / Comcast 19), and follow www.facebook.com/misscalibe.