(Eyewitness News) NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis yesterday assured that his administration is “not anti-press”, stating that his administration is merely trying to bring some structure to exchanges between Cabinet ministers and the media.
This past Tuesday, reporters were prevented from conducting interviews with Cabinet ministers outside the Office of the Prime Minister ahead of weekly Cabinet meeting.
The prime minister, while addressing the issue with members of the media on the sidelines of a Passing Out Parade ceremony for nearly 90 new Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) recruits, said: “I saw what occurred and that’s a debacle.
“We are not anti-press. We welcome the press and one of the things I implemented was a weekly press briefing every Thursday morning and all of the press is [invited] to attend that event.
“It is expected that unless there is some other issue that the press may be interested in that may not be able to wait until that press conference, they can make contact with the press secretary to discuss it.”
He added: “I don’t know that it was a shut out per se. That was a security issue more than anything else and I have asked them to address it.
“It’s very difficult to be focusing on going to a Cabinet meeting, where weighty matters are being discussed, to be interrupted on your way to answer questions that you may sometimes not know the answer to.
“We’re just trying to bring some structure so that whenever you speak to us, it would be an informed discussion as opposed to what I call a ‘gotcha moment.’”
Davis noted that the conference room in the Office of the Prime Minister has been “realigned” to accommodate Cabinet meetings in light of COVID-19 protocols.
“I don’t think we are being less accountable because whenever you think you have a question, a Cabinet minister must stop and answer,” said Davis.
“It has to be a give and take.
“I would think you would want to talk to a Cabinet minister when he has the time. You would get a better and more informed answer than just getting something that shoots from the hip and the words used or language used to create other stories.
“I think you have to be fair to this administration. We have been in office for four months.
“Every week, you have been invited to a press conference and in the interim, we have still been answering questions.”
In a statement on the incident earlier this week, the Office of the Prime Minister said the RBDF is responsible for the safety of the building and places the orange safety cones about the property every day as part of its “security practices”.
It also said the press secretary invited reporters to send “requests” in advance so ministers can be made available, and also to use the press briefing room for their interviews.