Monday, February 8, 2010

CNMI paper implies First Amendment Retaliation

The Marianas Variety suggests, without making a specific accusation, that political retribution is behind the CNMI Department of Public Health pulling its advertising.

That would be troubling, if true -- and illegal. For example, in a quick search for First Amendment Retaliation by governments I found cases from Mississippi and Puerto Rico.

If possible, the newspaper's relations with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and his administration have become more strained since his re-election, capped by their reporting the governor's controversial massage by a woman who was in federal custody.

I'm hesitant to say more, because the piece is more editorial opening salvo than news story. Tomorrow is another day.

However (heh), I did rummage through some back issues that were squirreled away and DPH doesn't seem to be the only government agency that is migrating away from the Variety and staying with the Saipan Tribune.

Evidently, the Variety learned this Friday, which makes the bare-bones reporting more understandable. Additionally, the paper claims that "Variety reporters covering the executive branch are also not getting replies to their requests for information and comments."

I had wondered why they were getting 'scooped' on stories that are essentially press release journalism.


g00$e said...

Is it retaliation? Probably, but how would the Variety or anybody else ever prove it? Also, there must be some constitutional protection for preserving the right to choose who you spend your advertising dollars on, regardless of implied reason.

But 'massage-gate' was only a medium warm scoop. Who was really surprised that such shenanigens routinely occur? And after their initial story the whole thing became all about anonymous quotes and opinions, some from persons of less than stellar integrity. The quotes attributed to un-named cops were at best shoddy journalism, at worst pure fabrication.

If the Variety is truly the journalistic 'watchdog' their boss lady claims it would look into some of the things that went on not so long ago at the CNMI immigration pen instead of running self righteous drivel from its former Director, who presided over some truly awful occurances that would make the Guv's rub down appear absolutely innocent.

Captain said...

The local advertisement in the locals news media, is federal funded funds and the "EXCUSES" DO NOT JIVE. Federal funds where allocated for all of these ads for the year period. This should be a "slam dunk" on this issues in court, compared to the Gov's spin.???
Lets here from the legal folks.

Anonymous said...

The Zoning board also posts ads in the Trib only. They are forbidden from using the Variety per orders from above.